Starters Guide to the gym
Hello all and great start to the Commit to Get Fit regime. It would appear that all of you are upping activity levels or avoiding those nasty delights.
The following ramblings are jargon busting explanations for some of those words you here the scary instructor say – do more reps, do more sets – and a little intro into a few weeks training and what you should look to do.
Repetitions – the number of times you lift a weight. If you do 1 squat this is one repetition. The general population should look to perform 6-15 repetitions, depending on your goals. If you cannot reach 6 repetitions the weigh is too heavy, if you can do more than 15 repetitons the weight is too light.
Set - a completion of series of repetitions. If you complete 10 squats you have completed one set. If you rest for 60s then do another 10 squats, you would have completed 2 sets
Overload – without the stimulus of overload you will not progress and reach your goals – this means increasing the resistance, distance or speed every couple of weeks.
Super Set – performing a set on one exercise then moving straight onto another exercises, completing a set on this before resting. By working out this way, or even a Tri-set or Quad set can save you time in the gym, whilst still getting the results you are after.
Interval - predetermined intervals of exercises and rest periods, for example, cycling for 60s at 90% your max pace interspersed with 120s at 40% your max pace. Complete the desired number of repetitions. Theoretically, intervals with the appropriate spaced work to rest ratios allow more work to be accomplished at a higher exercise intensity with the same or less fatigue than during a session at the same pace (60% max pace) for 20 minutes.
Toned – in the gym environment we here this word a lot. Unfortunately you cannot tone a muscle, you can increase it size, decrease the body fat around a muscle or increases in strength to get the look you are after. To get a ‘toned’ muscle you will have to lift a heavy resistance, no more that 15 repetitions each set, if you can continually lift the weight for more repetitions, I would not go as far as saying you are wasting* your time in the gym, due to the positive mental and social benefits of the gym, but with regards to reaching your goals it will take a lot longer.
*Note – this may be suitable for those injured and on rehabilitation programmes, or even sports specific. But with the majority of goals in the gym being increase muscle size and decrease body fat percentage this way of training, performing more than 15 repetitions each set would not be advantageous.
Prior to every session
Warm up – this involves some basic mobility drills which a link is attached below. Spend around 30s on each drill, this will loosen up the joints and prepare you for the exercises ahead.
Mobility exercise look to improve areas of tightness and increase our range of movement around a join, aiding us in our exercise performance.
Getting Started – three week very rough, very basic guide
Day One - as this is your first day in the gym look this is all about familiarising yourself with the equipment at the facility you are using, either the Falmer Sports Complex, Sport Centre Gym or a gym of your choice.
Start performing the exercise with a light warm up set, this would be selecting a resistance that allows you to get to your target repetition range comfortably. Keeping adding a little weight the next 1-2 sets, until the weight just about allows you to reach your target repetition range.
The exercises you select should fit into the following movement planes
Knee dominant exercises – squats and deadlifts. There are a variety of squats which can be performed so everyone, no matter of their physical ability can start to perform squats and progress
Hip dominant exercises – hip hinges, leg curls
Vertical Pull – pulldown, pull ups
Vertical push – shoulder press, cable press
Horizontal Pull – seated row, cable row
Horizontal Push – chest press, press up
The following link shows a variety of progression which you can work your way through over the coming weeks/months.
Now before we select and exercises from each group, as we are most likely to be sitting at a desk most of the day, we want to open up the back and prevent our shoulders rounding in. We should make sure that we perform more pulling exercises in a session that pushing exercises, so we do 2 pulling exercises to one pushing exercises.
Secondly we do not want to come in and train the core through crunches, this will only reinforce the bad posture we already have. Again look to perform some of the core exercises progression on the Sussexsport philosophy.
Finish the session with some intervals on a bike, cross trainer, rower or treadmill – lasting 10 -15minutes. The interval length will depend on your fitness level and ability.
Day two – rest, you may feel what is known as DOMs (delayed onset of muscles soreness) this is a good thing, but it may not feel it at the time! This shows that you have overloaded the body, the body is repairing itself ready for the next time, getting stronger, ready for the next session.
Day three- if you are still sore give it another day to recover. If you are feeling fine it’s time to hit the gym again. The body will have adapted. As you cycle through the month listen to your body, if it is sore rest and recover, if you are feeling good hit the gym/another class.
Repeat the exercises you performed on the first day. This time on your first and second sets add a little more weight compared to the first day.
Day Five – repeat. If you feel recovered repeat your second workout again.
Day eight – the start of a new week. Increase the weight you have been lifting by no more than 10%. Look to challenge yourself a little this week- it is ok to fail. If you fail because you can not technically perform a repetition this is the body telling you it has worked hard. That is fine, stop lifting at that repetition and rest.
Day 12 –Things should have moved on a notch this week, you should start to get the hand of the exercise, know the weights you are lifting, are they challenging? Can I lift more? Run faster? Run further?
Day 15 – week three is time to challenge yourself. The third week is all about the power of 2. Using your target repetition range, select a weight that is challenging. The weight should be set so you can either A= reach your target repetition range; B = can only do 2 or less repetitions above your target; C = you are below you repetition target by 2 or less. For example my target is 12 repetitions A= 12; B= <14 C = >10.
Thanks for staying awake and reading this far