How to Get Fit in the Gym

Going to the gym is a great way to get in shape, but it can be intimidating if you’re just starting out. Even if you’re a regular at the gym, you might feel like your routine isn’t producing results. Fortunately, getting fit in the gym is more than possible, regardless of your personal fitness goals. The key is to develop effective, safe workout habits and to arrive at the gym prepared and ready to succeed.

EditSucceeding at the Gym
Come up with a realistic gym schedule that you’ll be able to stick to. It may be tempting to plan on going to the gym every day of the week for faster results, but this can lead to burnout and you might feel discouraged if you miss days and don’t meet your goal. Instead, decide how many days of the week you can realistically make it to the gym and start there. You can always increase the frequency of your workouts later on when going to the gym becomes more of a habit.[1]
If you’re new to working out, try setting aside 2 days a week to go to the gym. That way, you can get your feet wet without feeling overwhelmed.

You could also try going to the gym every other day of the week so that you have a day off in between your gym sessions.

If you think you’d have a hard time going to the gym on the weekends, you could go every day after work or school and then take the weekends off.

Wear comfortable clothes and supportive athletic shoes to the gym. You want to wear clothes that will make your workout easier and that won’t get in your way while you’re exercising. Go with shirts that will wick away sweat and shorts that don’t restrict your range of motion.[2]
Shirts and shorts made out of polyester, spandex, nylon, or a cotton-polyester blend are good choices for the gym.[3]
Polyester, in particular, needs to be laundered after every time you sweat in it. Unwashed polyester can quickly develop an unpleasant smell.

Bring a water bottle with you to stay hydrated during your workouts. Working out at the gym makes you sweat and lose water, so it’s important that you’re replenishing your body as you exercise. Aim to drink of water every 15 minutes during your workouts.[4]
Dehydration can actually negatively affect your workouts by causing cramps and dizziness, as well as making your muscles weaker.

If you’re going to be working out for longer than 1 hour, it’s a good idea to bring a sports drink with you too so you can refuel your body. However, not all sports drinks are the same. Look for an isotonic sports drink that contains carbohydrates and sodium, which will give your body more energy during your workout.[5]

Warm up for 5-10 minutes before your workouts so you don’t injure yourself. Make it a habit to do your warm-ups right when you get to the gym. Focus on doing active, dynamic movements that bring your muscles through their full range of motion, like leg swings, high knees, and arm circles. A dynamic warm-up will get your body ready for your workout session.[6]
Not warming up before exercising can leave your body more prone to injury, so make sure you don’t skip your warm-ups at the gym.

Do both cardio and strength-training exercises. Try not to limit yourself to just one kind of exercise. Instead, take advantage of the weight machines, cardio machines, and free weights so you’re getting a balanced workout. With cardio and strength-training exercises, you’ll be burning calories and also toning your muscles.[7]
Aim to get 150 minutes of moderate cardio a week. For strength training, try to get at least 2 workouts comprised of 20 minutes of resistance training each week.

You don’t need to do cardio and strength training on the same day. Instead, you could spend one workout doing cardio and then your next one doing strength-training.

While a balanced workout will help you get fit in the gym, you can adjust what exercises you’re doing more of depending on your personal fitness goals. For example, if your goal is to build more muscle, you could spend most of your time doing strength-training exercises. Or, if you’re trying to lose weight, you could focus more on cardio exercises.

The right ratio of cardio to strength-training exercises will depend on your personal fitness goals, your weight, and the type of exercises you’re doing.

Have a post-workout snack after the gym to replenish your body. Choose a healthy snack with carbs to restore your body’s energy, and protein to help build your muscles. If you’re trying to lose weight, have a low-calorie snack that’s between 150-200 calories.[8]
For example, you could have a banana and some almond butter or a cup of nonfat Greek yogurt with some honey and fruit as a snack after the gym.[9]
You could also make a fruit smoothie with some protein powder.

EditDoing Cardio Exercises at the Gym
Walk or run on a treadmill. Treadmills are available at most gyms, and they’re a convenient way to get some cardio exercise in and burn calories. Many treadmills let you adjust the speed and incline that you want to work out with, so it’s a good choice regardless of your fitness level.[10]
You can burn around 125 calories per walking briskly on a treadmill if you weigh .[11]
Using a treadmill can be hard on the knees, so you may want to use a different cardio machine if you suffer from knee pain or have a knee injury.

Try using an elliptical machine. Working out on an elliptical is also a good calorie-burning cardio exercise, and like a treadmill, you can usually adjust your intensity level. Ellipticals are popular exercise machines, so you shouldn’t have a hard time finding one at your gym.[12]
You can burn 170-320 calories in 30 minutes on an elliptical, depending on your weight and the level of intensity you’re working out at. For example, if you weigh , you could burn 286 calories by working out on an elliptical at a high intensity for 30 minutes.[13]

Exercise on a stationary bike. Pedaling on a stationary bike at moderate intensity for 30 minutes can help you burn 200-700 calories, depending on your weight.[14] It’s also a great choice if you have knee problems since most of your body weight is being supported by the machine.[15]
For example, if you weigh , you could burn 250 calories by exercising on a stationary bike with moderate intensity for 30 minutes.

If you’re new to exercising, you can start out pedaling on a light intensity setting and then gradually increase your intensity level as you improve.

Work out on a rowing machine. Rowing is a great, full-body cardio exercise that won’t place a lot of stress on your joints. On a rowing machine, you can burn calories while working out your arms, legs, and core. Start out on a low-intensity setting and progress slowly so you don’t hurt your back.[16]
Depending on your weight, you can burn around 400-700 calories by spending 1 hour on a rowing machine. For example, if you weigh , you could burn 650 calories by working out on a rowing machine with moderate intensity for 1 hour.[17]

EditTrying Strength-Training Exercises
Try bodyweight exercises when you’re first starting out. Using weight machines and free weights at the gym can be intimidating if you’re new to working out. Fortunately, you can still get a good strength-training workout in by doing exercises that only use your bodyweight for resistance. Some bodyweight exercises you can try are:[18]





Do free-weight exercises to add more resistance to your routine. Most gyms will have free weights you can use, like dumbbells and barbells. The extra resistance will make your exercises more effective at building muscle. Start out with light weights that are easy to lift so you can perfect your form, and gradually progress to heavier, more challenging weights. Some free-weight exercises you can try at the gym include:[19]

Bicep curls

Bent over rows

Bench presses

Give your gym’s weight machines a try. Weight machines can be intimidating if you don’t know how to use them, but they can be an effective way to build muscle if they’re used correctly. If you’re interested in using your gym’s weight machines but you’re not sure how, ask someone who works there to show you the right technique, or consider working with a personal trainer who can show you what to do. Some common weight machines you can try are:[20]
Lat pulldown machine: A good machine to try if you’re looking for an upper body workout, including your latissimus dorsi, biceps, and forearms.

The Smith machine: It’s great for working out your quads, hamstrings, glutes, shoulders, core, and upper back.

Cable machine: You can use different types of cable machines to add resistance to exercises like shoulder presses, step ups, lateral raises, and crunches.

Lower back extension machine: It’s helpful for exercising the muscles along your back.

Make yourself a workout playlist with upbeat, motivational music that you can listen to while you’re working out at the gym.

If you’d prefer to work out at the gym when there aren’t a lot of people around, try going in the middle of the day or late in the evening when there’s usually less of a crowd.

EditRelated wikiHows
Do Treadmill Routines

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Feel Comfortable at a New Gym

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Protect Yourself from Gym Germs

Exercise Without Joining a Gym

Get Fit at Home

Get Fit in 10 Minutes a Day

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Today in History for 1st January 2019

Historical Events

1863 – Franz Schubert’s “Missa Solemnis,” premieres in Leipzig
1935 – 1st Orange Bowl: Bucknell beats Miami (FL), 26-0
1954 – Yugoslav parliament chairman/VP Milovan Djilas criticize communism
1971 – 37th Orange Bowl: #3 Nebraska beats #5 LSU, 17-12
1981 – Greece is 10th country to join European Economic Community
1987 – 53rd Orange Bowl: #3 Oklahoma beats #9 Arkansas, 42-8

More Historical Events »

Famous Birthdays

1827 – William Lewis “Old Tige” Cabell, Brigadier General (Confederate Army)
1883 – Ichirō Hatoyama, Japanese politician, Prime Minister (1954-56), born in Tokyo, Japan (d. 1959)
1915 – Francois Bondy, writer
1937 – Adam Wiśniewski-Snerg, Polish author (d. 1995)
1968 – John de Visser, soccer player (SC Heerenveen)
1989 – Daniel Ricciardo, Australian auto racer (Monte Carlo GP 2018), born in Perth, Western Australia

More Famous Birthdays »

Famous Deaths

1944 – Sir Edward Lutyens, British architect who designed New Delhi (b. 1869)
1958 – David Broekman, musican (Think Fast), dies at 55
2006 – Hugh McLaughlin, Irish publisher and inventor (b. 1918)
2007 – Darrent Williams, American football player (b. 1982)
2015 – Donna Douglas, American actress (Elly May Clampett-The Beverly Hillbillies), dies of pancreatic cancer at 82
2016 – Vilmos Zsigmond, Hungarian-born American cinematographer (Close Encounters of the Third Kind), dies at 85

More Famous Deaths »

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How to Start the New Year Fresh

After you celebrate New Years Eve, it’s time to get to work on those New Year’s resolutions! If you are looking for a way to start the new year fresh, consider changing your look, tidying up your life, and setting goals and intentions. You can do things like get a haircut, donate unworn clothing, start a workout routine, or perform more random acts of kindness. Whatever approach you prefer, it’s great to start the new year feeling refreshed and focused, so you are ready to take on the year ahead.

EditPolishing Your Look
Get a haircut to freshen up your face. Schedule an appointment with your stylist early into the new year. You can get a trim for a subtle upgrade or go for a bold new hairstyle for a totally different look. This way, you’ll feel fresh for the year ahead.
For instance, if you have long, straight hair, consider chopping it to shoulder-length and adding some layers.

If you have a short hairstyle, consider cutting the sides even shorter for a subtle change. For example, if you have a pixie cut, you can take it even shorter.

Experiment with your look by trying something new appearance-wise. Doing something new with your appearance can help you feel confident as you enter the new year. You can do things like rock a bold lip color, get a new facial piercing, or upgrade your current glasses style. Find what works for your style and budget, and go for something new![1]
You can also dye your hair a bright color, go on a shopping spree for new clothing, or invest in a new pair of shoes.

Start a fitness routine. Think about your current health and your overall fitness goals, and make a plan to improve your health based on where you are. For instance, you can start taking a 20-minute walk after work every day, or you can train to run a marathon in the fall. Start simply and gradually so you can stick with your goals.[2]
If you are new to exercise, you can find a gym in your area and start going 3 times a week. Walk on the treadmill for 20 minutes each time to get started.

If you are a fitness enthusiast, make a goal to improve your BMI or get a six-pack by the end of the year, for instance.

EditUpdating Your Attitude
Practice gratitude every day to fill your life with kindness. Practicing gratitude can boost your mood overall and improve your outlook on life. Each day before you go to sleep, write down 3 things you are grateful for. In addition, express your gratitude for the people in your life by telling them you appreciate them.[3]
For example, you can write things like, “I am grateful for my cat,” or “I am grateful for the sunshine today.”

Include a positive affirmation in your daily routine. Positive affirmations refer to a simple, short sentence that you can use as a reminder throughout your day. Using positive affirmations can boost your self-esteem over time, which is helpful when starting off a new year. To work with positive affirmations, find a phrase that works for you, like “I am worthy,” or “I am capable of challenges.” Tell yourself this first thing in the morning and throughout your day as you start to doubt.[4]
Tailor your affirmation to your particular life and circumstance. For example, if you are working on being a more supportive friend, your affirmation can be “I am fun and loyal.”

Do random acts of kindness as often as possible. Random acts of kindness are small, deliberate actions performed to bring happiness to other people’s day. Do these actions without expecting to get anything in return, but rather to brighten someone’s day. This is a great way to start off the new year on a positive, compassionate note.[5]
You can do things like giving generous compliments, smiling at strangers, and volunteer for charities.

Pick up trash on the side of the road, help an elderly citizen cross the road, or give food to the homeless.

You can also pay for the next person’s coffee or give your server a large tip.

EditTidying up Your Environment
Start your spring cleaning early to tidy up your space. Shortly into the new year, clean up your room, kitchen, bathroom, and/or basement. Tidy up any cluttered areas, throw away garbage, and put away items that are out of place. This way, you’ll enter the new year feeling neat and organized.[6]
It is also helpful to clean out your car. Get rid of any trash, and sort through your center console and glove box, for instance.

Sort through your clothes and get rid of those you don’t wear often. The new year is a great time to take inventory of your wardrobe and get rid of items that no longer fit or suit your style. Take out the clothing in each of your drawers, and create 1 pile for clothing to keep and 1 pile for clothing to rehome. Then, fold your clothes neatly and return them to your dresser or closet. This helps you declutter your space and freshen up your style.[7]
After you create a “rehome” pile, consider giving your items to your friends or family members, or donating them to a thrift store or consignment shop.

Add a fresh coat of paint to your walls to freshen up your room. Consider repainting the walls of your home early into the year. Cover the floor and your furniture with a drop cloth, and use a paint roller to apply indoor house paint to your walls. You can pick a new color for a change of pace, for instance.

Purchase a few new decorations to revamp your space. Visit a local thrift or home supply store, and pick out a couple new items to redecorate with. For example, you can get 2-3 decorative throw pillows, a rug, a lamp, or a new bookshelf. Adding a few new items can make your home feel fresh and new.
You can also get small items like paperweights, vases, and magnets.

EditSetting Goals and Intentions
Aim to try 1 new thing every month. In addition to your personal resolutions, it is helpful to strive to get out of your comfort zone at least 1 time each month. You can schedule 1 new thing each month, or you can pick a few things and choose when the time comes. Regardless, choose to do something you’ve never done before or learn about something brand-new to expand your horizons and grow as a person.[8]
Trying a new thing can be as simple as eating a cuisine you’ve never tried before.

You can do active things like going kayaking, horseback riding, or skydiving.

Other ideas include taking a language class, joining a yoga studio, or planning a camping trip.

Make a bucket list of 20-50 things to try in the upcoming year. Shortly into the beginning of the year, sit down with a notebook and write out several things you want to do throughout the year. Choose simple, easy things such as “eat more vegetables” or specific, realistic goals like “Go back to college.” Add as many items to your list as you feel compelled, and check them off as you complete them throughout the year. The list provides a visual reference, helpful when trying to set goals.[9]
You can use this list to help get ideas of new things to try each month.

Ideas for your bucket list could include visiting New York City, picking your own pumpkin, adopting a dog, taking a cooking class, and traveling to the beach.

Update your resume so you’re ready for new opportunities. Shortly into the new year, open up your resume, read it over, and look for ways to improve it. For instance, if you started a new job at the end of the year, add it under your “Employment” section. You can also update the dates to reflect the new year. This way, if you want to apply for a job, you are ready when the time comes.[10]
You can also update your contact information or address.

Strive to improve your sleep habits. When the new year rolls in, getting more meaningful and restful sleep is a great goal to add to your resolution list. You can aim to relax more before you go to sleep, such as taking a bath, drinking chamomile tea, and reading a book. You can also go to sleep and wake up around the same time each day to get into a natural rhythm. Improving your sleep will, in turn, help you feel focused and energized throughout the year.[11]
You can also use white noise or nature sounds to help you fall asleep.

Consider taking a melatonin supplement if you have trouble sleeping. Melatonin is a hormone produced in your brain that helps regulate sleep cycles. By adding 1-3 mg a day, you may get more restful sleep over time.

Ask a friend to do some of these things with you. This is a great way to make new year’s resolutions fun and engaging.

Avoid setting too many goals. Sometimes, trying to do too many things at once gets overwhelming rather than inspiring. Keep your ideas realistic to your life, and start simple so you can get stuff done!

EditRelated wikiHows
Accomplish Your New Year’s Resolutions

Hold an Elegant Ball for New Year’s Eve

Choose a Dress for New Year’s Eve

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EditQuick Summary
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