Starting a fitness journey can be filled with excitement and motivation knowing that your health is about to improve. From the brand new gym membership and workout tools to the healthy foods and snacks in your fridge, there are many ways to prepare for this lifestyle change. However, one aspect you might not consider is your ability to actually be more physically active. Most bodies can’t automatically handle an intense change in physical exertion, which is why so many beginners get injured during their first week of exercising.
If you’re ready to start your journey in the safest way possible, then it’s important to take the time to learn how to prepare. All the tips you need to know are listed below to make getting started as simple and easy as possible!
Tip 1: Preparation
- Posture and TechniqueNo matter what type of exercise you’re going to do, it’s important to use the proper posture and techniques. For example, when lifting weights, it’s important to focus on quality rather than quantity. Going too fast, slumping over, or bending the wrong way could all contribute to being injured the first time you work out.
- ShoesWhether running, lifting weights, or dancing, supportive shoes are incredibly important. Take time to find a pair that fits well without being too tight and make sure they are comfortable. It’s recommended to break in every pair you buy by wearing them a few times before using them to work out.
- Warm UpMany beginners pull their muscles and exhaust themselves because they don’t warm up before they workout. This could be something as simple as a couple minutes of stretching followed by a short walk to help the body loosen up and prepare for a more intense workout.
- ClothingWorkout clothing is important because it helps wick away moisture that could cause painful chafing. You don’t have to buy the most expensive clothing brands, but you should have at least one pair of pants/shorts, a top, and a supportive bra (if necessary) to help keep sweat from bothering and harming you during an exercise session.
Tip 2: Get to Know the Gym
There are a lot of ways you can exercise at home, but if you plan on going to the gym, then you should become familiar with it before getting started. Most gym managers will take you through the building when you first get started so you can learn about what different machines do, the rules to use them, and how to avoid injury. However, if you want a more in-depth introduction to the machines and posture needed to use them properly, you should hire a trainer. Even just a day with a professional can teach you a lot of important tips that you can use every time you hit the gym.
Some of the most important things to learn are:
- Number of reps necessary
- When a spotter is needed
- How to clean machines for safety
Tip 3: Start Slow
The excitement of a new lifestyle can make you want to push yourself, but it’s important to ease into working out so you prevent injury. Create a workout plan that allows your body to adjust to the increase of movement. For example, if you were going to start running, you might want to follow a running plan that incorporates jogging and walking in intervals to make things less intense. This is especially true when working with weights, as adding too much can cause great injury.
Another aspect of starting slow is giving yourself time to rest when you’re sore. This doesn’t mean taking a week off, but it does mean allowing a day of rest after a particularly difficult session. The body does a lot of recovery while your rest, which is where it re-builds torn muscle and restores reserves that will get you through your next workout. Make sure to drink a lot of water and eat protein during this time, nutrients in these will help speed up recovery better than junk foods that could potentially slow that recovery process down.
Tip 4: Change Things Up
Varying your workouts might not seem like it’s necessary if you like what you do, but if you’re using the same muscles day after day, you could easily injure yourself. Just a couple of different workouts throughout the week is all you need to help protect your muscles, even if it’s something as simple as swimming instead of running. This may introduce you to a new form of exercise you like as well, so it can pay off in many ways.
Tip 5: Cooling Down
A cool-down might not seem necessary after you’ve worked hard, but it’s important because it helps get your heart rate down. Just a short walk for a few minutes is needed to do this, so it’s something most people can fit into their exercise regimen.
Tip 6: Treat Injuries
Even with extreme diligence it’s not guaranteed that you won’t get hurt while working out. If you do find yourself injured, then remember RICE. This stands for R(rest), I(ice), C(compression), and E(elevation). By doing these things you’ll reduce swelling, prevent the injury from getting worse, and avoid inflammation as well. Think something deeper is going on? Then take time to go to a doctor so they can do a full evaluation. You may have a torn muscle or even sprain that needs to be addressed before you can safely workout again.
Protecting Your Body
Thousands of injuries occur at the gym every year, whether from negligence or improper use of machines. However, if you prepare, learn about working out, and take time to ease into exercise, then you may be able to avoid any injuries to yourself. All of this effort might not seem like it’s necessary, but it is crucial for keeping your body safe. This is especially true if you’re a little bit older since you last worked out, as the body becomes more prone to injury as it ages.
If you’re ready to workout and get in shape, then get started with the tips above! From the proper shoes to stretching before you workout, everything listed is necessary to have a safe jump start to getting fit.