So, it’s January, the month where many of us try to restart or start a fitness routine to start the new year off in the right way. And for many of us, that can mean signing up to using a gym. Whether you’re new to a gym or you haven’t been for a while, it can be an intimidating place. But everyone was new at some point and needed to start somewhere, use these gym tips to help stretch, avoid injury and enjoy your new surroundings.
It doesn’t matter if you’re lifting or looking to do cardio, a warm up is vital to slowly raise your heart rate and get your muscles ready for action. When we are warming up bodies up we want to look at dynamic movements such as air squats or lunges, leg swings or arm circles. Try to avoid static stretching here. Keep you stretching active ie your body’s moving and stretching. One of the focuses of your warm up is to get your heart rate up a little bit before your work out.
Slow and steady at first!
OK, you’re warmed up and ready and eager to smash your workout but start easy. We would all love to be lifting as much as all the people grunting in the corner or going as fast as the people on the treadmill with their impossibly small shorts but remember that they all started somewhere. Starting easy will give you the opportunity to learn the movements and will lower your chance of injury, a house needs strong foundations and these foundations are being built by you learning the techniques.
Once your workout is done, its a great idea to stretch. In fact, this is probably more important than your warm up so spend a little more time on this. Static stretching is better suited for after you’ve exercised so here’s a few you can try.
Quad stretch – stand up straight and lift a foot up to your bum, hold your foot with your hand and keep your knees together.
Hamstring stretch – lift your leg onto a chair or raised surface, keep your leg straight and slowly lean your body into the stretch. You should feel it down the back of your leg.
Back stretch – stand straight with legs slightly apart and slowly lower your hand down one leg allowing your body to bend with you.
Hold the stretch for 10-15 seconds and then swap sides.Your rest and recovery starts now, rest is as important as the workout, rest allows your muscles to grow and gets you ready for your next workout.
If you’re upping your exercise game, then up your protein intake! This will help you muscles recover, repair and grow. Many of us don’t tend to eat enough protein at the best of times; if you’re exercising it’s even more important. There are many, many products out there now – protein shakes, protein bars – and these can serve a purpose in our busy lives. Obviously though, ‘real’ food is better Recent research has shown that one of the best things that you can have post exercise is a glass of chocolate milk! Packed full of protein and a bit of sugar to help recover and repair. And super tasty!
In pain the next day?
DOMS……You know the next day when you cant get off the toilet or down the stairs? That’s DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). DOMS are common after a hard workout or if you’ve been doing exercises that you haven’t done before. Resting these muscles for a couple of days before working them again can help as can making sure you’re drinking enough water and eating enough protein. Using a foam roller on the muscles and sports massage has been shown to be the most beneficial way to reduce DOMS,
If in doubt, ask!
And you remember, when you’re in the gym, its ok to ask questions. Your fellow gym goers or the PT’S will be happy to help you along your path.
If you have any questions, need advice or think you could benefit from a sports massage, please get in touch. We’re happy to help and keep you injury free! If you need to come and see us, we’re based at Dolphin Leisure Centre in Haywards Heath.