Getting in shape: How to make the gym work out. Part 1

Part 1: Getting started and Goal Setting

It’s tough making the decision to start working out.  Anyone can continue living the life they do now, but you can step up and start making changes.  You’re already interested enough to be reading this post, and learning how to start is the first step.

I’m going to tell you my experiences, gives tips to help you get a schedule going, and also introduce types of exercise.

This post is built around my experience with working out, and is directed at doing intense, efficient, and effective workouts.   It details my approach to setting goals, cardio and weight lifting, as well as staying motivated.

How I started

In May 2009 I started working out regularly with Joe.  At the time I was 6’1″ and weighed ~146 pounds.  I’d had my tonsils out not too long before, and lost a bit of weight while recovering.  Our goal was to gain weight, and strength.  I wanted to hit 160 pounds before the end of summer.  We were concerned about our endurance, since it is very hard to build endurance and strength at the same time while gaining weight.  I hit my fall weight goal, and now about a year later I’m stronger, more fit and weigh 175 pounds.  Joe and I are still working out.

Go To The Gym

Going to the gym sounds easy, right?  It only takes an hour or so, and going 3 times a week makes a big difference.  Then why do so many people fail?  A lot of people tell all their friends they will start working out, get intense about it and then quit after only a few weeks.  Sound familiar?  Here’s some things I think are essential to understand and are often why people fail:

  • Results don’t happen overnight.  People assume things will happen immediately when it takes time.  Stick with it.
  • Get a friend to go with you who has similar goals.  Or meet someone new who has a similar routine. It’s harder to fail when someone else is depending on you.
  • Go regularly, but understand that life will get in the way sometimes. If you miss one day, that’s ok, don’t hold yourself to a strict schedule. If you work out consistently 11 months out of the year, you’ve been successful.
  • Figure out why you want to get in shape and internalize that goal.  Have specific long term goals in mind.  You don’t need to set a specific time limit.
  • Start small and use incremental increases.  Set up a workout that you know you can do without too much trouble, then slowly make it more difficult each time you go.

Goals

Set measureable, attainable goals and continue to raise them.  If you’ve never bench pressed and your goal is to bench your body weight, that’s a tough goal.  Break it up into smaller pieces than you can focus on, like first bench pressing 100 pounds, then 135.  Each session you should have a goal for the day, for example, “Today I will bench press 100 pounds 25 times” so that you don’t get stagnant.

Make sure going to the gym is about what YOU want.  Pick an area of your life that will benefit by being in better shape.

Disclaimer

I’ve done a fair amount of research on how I can achieve my goals more effectively, and work out efficiently. My advice is generally slanted toward what I’ve found that works, and will work for most people, but may not be everyone’s approach to fitness.  I don’t claim to be a dietitian or personal trainer.

Stronglifts.com has a very good knowledge base for people looking to get stronger, gain weight, or lose body fat.  That’s all for today!

Part 1: Getting started and Goal Setting – You are HERE

Part  2: Run faster and jump higher: Cardiovascular Fitness

Part 3: 101 guide to carrying people:  Weight Lifting

Part 4: Staying Motivated

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