The New Year; the time when we all promise to get fitter, stronger, richer (anyone have any tips on that one?!) and most importantly – healthier. It’s no secret that January is the time when gyms see the biggest increase in numbers (which is great of course!) but with that comes a set of “Gym Rules” that we all must abide by in order to be happy, healthy beasts!
Whether you’re just starting off, getting back to the grind or even a dedicated lifter – we all need to remind ourselves of good gym etiquette as well as some beginners tips because trust me when I say this: If you curl in the squat rack you are asking for trouble.
It leads to bad places.
1) DO KNOW YOUR GOAL
Before you even step foot in the gym make sure you know what you’re trying to achieve. Is it general fitness? Strength? To build muscle? You need to figure this part out FIRST so you can train TOWARDS that goal. Training for a purpose provides you with motivation, measurable progress and most importantly – the feeling of achievement when you’ve reached your goal.
2) DON’T RESTRICT YOURSELF
While it is important to have measurable and specific goals, it can be beneficial to try your hand at all aspects of fitness before you set up camp in the CrossFit corner – especially if you’re new to the lifestyle. The best way to do this is to keep an open mind, connect with people with other areas of interests and even visit different types of gyms and get a taste to how diverse your training can really be. Personally, I started lifting with my mind set on powerlifting. Then, I made some friends who did CrossFit and I quickly realised that was NOT for me (I laugh at my attempts…) and THEN I discovered kickboxing after visiting a local club; and now I am a proud member of Spartan Academy. This was for me and since then I train for that by incorporating strength training, endurance training and (my attempt at) high intensity training. So play around, see what you like and you will eventually find your true love…of lifting.
Yes. It’s a thing.
3) DO ASK FOR HELP
If you’re new to the gym and feel intimidated by the “big and strong” people – don’t fret. We’ve all been there. The truth is these “big” people are just people who started off just like you! If you’re unsure about how to use something – ask someone. We don’t bite (Yeah, I just sneakily called myself a “big and strong” person. I can throw a fine kick, though!)
4) DON’T BE THE “FORM FIXER”
This may be controversial as help is often appreciated in the gym; don’t consistently offer unsolicited advice when unasked. Offering to help to someone who clearly is new is one thing; but critiquing someone’s form or technique when not asked can be irritating. This doesn’t apply to everyone and the situation may vary but in general – don’t be the form fixer. They will learn (or maybe you will) but for now – leave them at it. Unless they’re attempting to deadlift with their neck… then I’d say it’s fairly okay to kindly step in and save their life.
5) DO EAT ENOUGH FOOD!
This is a no brainer but unfortunately needs to be said. If you are going to be training you need to ensure you give your body the fuel that it needs to perform and recover. This applies to those attempting to lose weight, too. You may need to drop your calories to drop the pounds but don’t starve yourself. This will hinder progress, motivation, recovery and the ability to stay sane because we all need chocolate!
There is no “Don’t” to follow this because it’s simple… don’t not eat enough food!
6) DON’T BE FOOLED BY INSTAGRAM
While it is recommended to start your training with a specific plan in order to avoid confusion and provide you with a direct approach to reaching your goals; don’t be fooled by Instagram and the “30 Day Squat Challenges”. Of course you can make progress in 30 days but don’t expect your dream body within that time frame. Have patience, remain consistent with your training and the results will follow.
7) DO FOLLOW A PLAN
A training plan is one of the most valuable pieces of arsenal in your pocket if you really want to make measurable progress. It needn’t be complicated or lengthy but it needs to be done. I’ve written about this before in my article “Why and How to Plan in the Gym” where you can find all the information you need to make your own plan, tailored to your own goals. Simples!
8) DO TRAIN TO STIMULATE
If you’re reading this, the chances are, you either love to train or you want to fall in love with training (oh, it will happen – trust me!). Obviously, you want to be able to train as best you can as often as possible. One way NOT to be able to do this is to absolutely obliterate your muscles every time you hit the gym. Some people feel that if they’re not limping home after leg day that they had a “bad workout” or didn’t train hard enough – and this is far from the truth. In order to spur muscle growth and strength you need to STIMULATE the muscles to change or adapt to stimulus (i.e. Training). This does not mean you need to be crying through your workout; you just need to challenge yourself – continuously – and the rewards will follow. No limping required!
9) DON’T TRAIN TO ANNIHILATE
As I’ve mentioned; a stimulus is required in order to spur muscle growth and increase strength. You cannot effectively do this if you’re tearing your muscles to shreds in every session. This will result in extreme fatigue, pain, injury and even muscle and strength losses. A damaged body is not a strong body.
Train to stimulate not to annihilate.
10) DON’T CURL IN THE SQUAT RACK