You’ve just made the commitment to begin your very own workout plan. Congratulations! That is a big step in the right direction. Now you want to make absolutely sure that you are doing everything you possibly can to see success. If you’re going to be spending your precious time in the gym, it’s vital you see results.
The good news is that because you are sitting there right now reading this article, you’re already on track to ensuring success.
Did you know that a big part of getting results happens outside of the gym? Before you even step foot on a treadmill, bike, or elliptical or venture into that free weight section, there are some things that you can be doing to make the most of your routine.
Let’s go over what these are so that you are prepared and ready to see great results.
Get Comfortable Workout Gear
You might be tempted to find the hottest little number to don in the gym, wanting to look your very best, but this could be a grave mistake. Not to say you shouldn’t look good while you’re there (because hey, when you look good, you often feel good!), but in some cases, comfort needs to trump fashion.
If you’re wearing clothing that’s at all restrictive or you feel self-conscious in, this could seriously limit the results you see. Consider both the movement you need to be doing as well as the temperature of the gym. You don’t want to get too hot or too cold either as being uncomfortable can make for a very unpleasant gym experience and decrease your desire to go back.
Find Internal Sources Of Motivation
Perhaps one of the most critical things you must do to get results is to find an internal source of motivation. When most of us first start up at the gym, we do so for rather ‘quote-on-quote’, shallow reasons.
We want to look better naked. We want to fit into that pair of skinny jeans. We want to attract that cute guy we’ve had our eye on at the local coffee shop.
While these reasons can all be very motivating, they aren’t all long-lasting. Meaning, they may not hold the test of time.
If you plan on making big changes to your body or fitness level, you need commitment. You aren’t going to reach your goals in a few weeks or likely even a few months for that matter. In an ideal situation, you want to be committed to the gym for life as that way you’ll not only reach your goals but maintain them going forward.
This is going to take some internal (also known as intrinsic) motivation. So think hard about what it is you want from your plan. Do you want more energy? Do you want a lower risk of disease? Do you want to feel more confident in all you do – work, play, and as far as your health is concerned?
There are so many reasons to start a fitness plan, so list as many as you can. Think deep here. The deeper you go – the more meaningful to you – the better. This is what will keep you lacing up those trainers even when you’re tired and doing a workout is the last thing you feel like doing.
Have A Program Ready (Or Book A Session With A Trainer)
You wouldn’t travel to your favorite beach spot without a map of how to get there (or previous knowledge), would you? Definitely not. The same applies here.
Think of your program plan as the road map that is going to help lead you from point A to point B. If you have no program plan, you really have no way to ensure that you are on the road to seeing success.
Having a good plan does two things:
It gives you confidence in the gym.
First, it’s going to give you confidence. As a beginner, the gym can be a mighty intimidating place. You might feel a little lost and like you’re an outsider who doesn’t fit into this perfectly fit world inside.
When you have a plan, you’ll have a feeling of the power of knowing what you should be doing every step of the way. This will go a long way towards calming that sense of being ‘lost’.
One of the biggest reasons why many beginners put off starting a workout at the gym is because they just don’t get how to start. Get a good plan and let it guide you.
It helps you ensure you are making small improvements each and every day.
A second reason you need a plan is that it’ll help prevent the progress plateau that so many people get lost in. It’s easy to get ‘stuck in a rut’ as they call it, hitting the gym daily and doing the same thing each and every time.
Eventually, you’ll just be going through the motions. When that happens, you know you aren’t on track to seeing any sort of results.
By having a plan in place with built-in progression, you can feel confident you are always moving forward. Few things are more frustrating than spending all that time and energy doing your workouts but not really getting anything in return for it.
If you aren’t able to find a plan that will work for you on your own, take the time to consult a personal trainer. You don’t necessarily even have to do a series of sessions with them if you don’t want to and feel capable of exercising on your own. Get the first session so they can provide you with a program and possibly a follow-up session a few weeks later to ensure all is going okay and you’ll be set.
Want a trick to really give your progress a boost? Visualize success. Many high-level athletes use this technique and there’s no reason you can’t start including it in your plan as well.
Before you hit the gym, find somewhere quiet to sit. Now close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Do this for 2-3 minutes. Once you feel calm and relaxed, picture what it will be like when you hit your goals.
How will you feel? What will change in your life? How will you act differently? Will you be able to do things that you weren’t before?
Your goal here is to make this vision so realistic that you can almost taste it. You want to get a hunger for success in your mind that you will do almost anything you can to achieve success.
You can also then call upon this vision when you are having one of those days where you’re lacking in the motivation department. Remember that while you may be very motivated to begin your journey right now (most new beginners are!), sooner or later, that initial motivation will wear off and you may not feel quite as excited as you do at this point.
This is normal and natural. Like anything you do or get that’s ‘new’, it’ll lose some of its appeal. The trick is to keep up that through any other means possible.
Set Realistic Expectations
Finally, the last thing you want to be sure you do is set some realistic expectations. Some beginners go into their workouts thinking they are going to see quite significant results in just a few short weeks.
While beginners do tend to see faster results than someone who has been exercising for many months or years (due to something called ‘newbie gains’), you probably aren’t going to see very visible changes taking place within a week or two.
If you go in with these expectations, it’s very likely that you’ll be setting yourself up for some disappointment. Some beginner’s fall off the bandwagon entirely after a few weeks because of this effect, so coming to reality with what is likely to happen in terms of progress is important.
If you aren’t sure what you’re capable of, you might consider consulting a personal trainer to help advise you.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t set goals that are aggressive and force you to work hard but avoid setting goals that are simply not attainable. This goes for any point in your fitness career but especially in the beginning when you are new to exercise and learning the ropes.
So there you have the five things that you should be doing before you step foot in the gym in order to see maximum success going forward. Always remember that being prepared is half the battle. Many beginners get started a little too quickly because they are excited and just want to get results NOW but they don’t take the time to think through their approach and just rush into the first program they find.
Take your time, do your research and make sure you are both physically and mentally prepared. This will be the best way of boosting your chances of seeing the success you desire.
Shannon Clark holds a degree in Exercise Science from the University of Alberta, where she specialized in Sports Performance and Psychology. In addition to her degree, she is an AFLCA certified personal trainer and has been working in the field for over 15 years now, and has helped others of all ages lose weight, build muscle, and improve their physical performance. She’s been featured in Bodybuilding.com, Muscle & Strength Hers and Oxygen magazine.