You've been working out at home for the past two years. Or maybe you're in the gym but the sheer amount of equipment, free weights, and people is enough to give you a low-key panic attack and walk out.
I get it. I've been there.
The gym can be an incredibly overwhelming place. However, if we want to be strong, feel amazing, and lose weight, we need to become friends with the gym. We need to learn how to gain confidence so that we can walk in there, crush our workout, and leave feeling amazing.
Here's a quick guide on how to prepare yourself for the next time you walk into a gym. And no, you won't find anything about cardio machines in this article. Because you're not in the gym to walk or jog on a treadmill. You can do that outside. You're in the gym to use the weights.
I remember the amount of times I've entered a gym and basically wandered around figuring out what I was going to do until I gave up and walked out.
Creating a workout plan for yourself (or finding one) is like checking off a to-do list.
The truth is, if you have 5 tasks that you completed in a day, you'll go to bed feeling much more accomplished if you had listed out those 5 tasks on a piece of paper and checked them off as you did them vs. just having done them by chance. You may have completed the same amount of work or chores, but the intention was also there. You had a plan, you executed it, and now you feel great.
Doing that in the gym is the same. Create intention behind your workout by pre-planning exactly what you're going to do.
This will do two things. First, it will give you some confidence going in there. You have your workout, you know what the movements are, you know what weight you're going to use. Now you just have to go in and execute.
Second, it will allow you to scope out the equipment you need before you need it. I know how nerve-wracking and awkward it can be to ask someone if they're almost done using the weights you need. But I also know that this nervousness came from me not really knowing what I was doing.
So once you walk into the gym, head to where you need to be right away. If someone is there, you politely ask them, "How many more minutes do you think you'll need here?". That will determine how long you can go off to the side and stretch/warm-up! Once he or she is done, you swoop in and start your workout.
That way, you can scope out your next set of movements and figure out where you're going to go next as you're finishing up your squats (or whatever).
If you don't already have one, get yourself a journal that you can keep for all your workouts. Or, you can use your phone to track as well. There's just something about a journal that I really like using.
Ask for help
Chances are if you're going into the gym prepared, you likely will be able to get in and out of there without needing much help. However, it's ALWAYS better to ask for guidance if you're feeling like you need it.
Asking for a spot
There is absolutely ZERO shame in asking for someone to help you out with a lift that you're pushing yourself through. Whether it be a squat, a bench press, or a dumbbell press, ask someone close by if they're comfortable spotting you. Make sure they say yes! If they hesitate, ask someone else. You want to make sure that person has experience spotting and is totally comfortable spotting you.
Click to see a vid on how to spot a squat. This is just for your reference so that you can be aware if the person spotting you knows what they're doing! Knowledge is power!
Asking for equipment
If there's something that you need to be doing as a part of your workout, and you don't see the equipment around, make sure you ask someone working there.
"Hey, this is the exercise I'm supposed to be doing, but I don't see that you have X. Do you know where I could find it, OR do you have another piece of equipment similar that I could modify the movement with?"
This is an easy question that you can ask to make sure you're still staying on track with your workout. It's easy to get derailed and discouraged inside the gym. There's a lot going on. But once you have a game plan, it's easy to ask for help to stay on that plan.
Go with a friend
Ok, this one is simply so you can enter the gym with the buddy and make it a FUN time! Working out should always be fun. It's a time you can let off steam, push yourself, try something new, do something better. It's also a time for you to get some socializing in if you've been in front of a computer all day.
The last thing I want you to do is stress out about being inside the gym. It decreases the chances of you making it a part of your life. And that's what we want. I want you to LOVE going to the gym.
Bonus: Post Gym Nutrition
You're home from the gym and you're feeling amazing. Let's keep that going by properly fuelling yourself to make sure we're optimizing your new gains.
As mentioned earlier, if you're in the gym, you're there to grow lean muscle mass. You're not there to poke around on the cardio equipment and break a little sweat. Sorry, a glow.
You're there to lift some heavy shit and trigger some body recomposition.
And in order to optimize that, we need our protein synthesis to happen quicker than protein breakdown. How? By consuming carbohydrates and protein within a 30-minute window of exercising.
That window might seem short, but there are studies showing that women benefit from a quicker replenishment of nutrients than men do.
Dr. Sims research on women has shown that 30 grams of protein within 30-45 minutes post-workout is the ideal amount to promote optimal recovery in premenopausal women
Dr. Sims also recommends post-workout nutrition to stop the catabolic response post-exercise, replenish depleted glycogen stores from exercise and prevent an LEA (low energy availability) state
LEA is when a person is under eating for their activity level and has small, sometimes unnoticed, but negative effects on energy, performance, and overall health*
So what do you eat?
Something YUMMY of course. Now, if you're rushing back to work or you just don't have the time or means to make something, a why protein scoop (with leucine) in water and a banana is a fantastic option while you're driving in the car or walking back home.
If you want something a bit more, here is a great post-workout meal!