How to Succeed as a New Year Gym Newbie

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Person silhouette standing in 2017 on the hill at sunset

Will 2017 be your year?

Back in 2015, we wrote about how to deal with new people in the gym come January. This time, we’re going to be a bit more supportive of that new flock.

People wanting to get in shape, whatever time of year, is something that we like. It’s a lot better than people sitting in front of the TV all day. But so many gym newbies, especially those who start in January, fall off the wagon.

So here’s 8 tips that will improve their chances.

1. Know why you started

Whatever your reason for joining the gym, or starting to workout in January, it needs to be clear. If not, you will struggle to find a reason to workout after a while.

Many newbies like the idea of working out and being in shape more than actually doing it. The same as a poorly written character in some soppy rom-com likes the idea of love, more than love itself.

So find yourself a personal reason, such as losing some fat, improving health or trying to get a date with Sheila in accounts, and go for it.

2. Find a friendly regular or knowledgeable mate

not what it looks like gym

Image source: Flickr
How close you get is up to you…

The gym can be a scary place. Full of angry looking people slamming metal down like some weird semi-clothed ironmonger convention. So if you can find a friend to hold your hand – literally if you have poor balance and want to use the treadmill – then that is a good thing.

Ideally your gym-friend will have some knowledge of what they are doing, they’ll be patient and they’ll be comfortable spotting you.

For having a good spot is important if you want to try and master some of the gym’s most important movements. The bench press for example is scary, but if you have someone to catch the weight if you fail, then you won’t become a popular video on Vine entitled “Tool nearly dies in epic gym screw up.”

3. Stick to the basics

Knowing how to do a Bosnian reverse decline bicep squat is all well and good. However, if you are new to it all, the chances are that moves like that target something very specific, so there is no need for you to try it, nor should you bother taking the risk of doing something that is probably quite complicated and likely to injure you.

Instead, do the basics. Your squats, your cable flyes, your bench press. All of these are in themselves not a piece of cake, and it is important to research proper form (as we will go into some more shortly), but by mastering basic moves you have grounds to improve and learn more.

4. Don’t overtrain

Many newcomers to the wonderful world of fitness, and more specifically, bodybuilding, think they need to train everyday. There is so much written about “the only bad workout is the one you didn’t do”, but that, in short, is a load of bollocks.

Going everyday, is a sure fire way to cause yourself injury, and to make yourself tired.

Keep it simple, stick to working on your chest one day, squatting on another and your shoulders on the third. You’ll work your back naturally, and you can take it from there.

5. Small changes are better than big

Another reason people often fail in January is because they try and change everything in one go. Imagine doing that in another part of your life, like in the way you speak. If you suddenly tried to go from sounding like you, to Stephen Fry, then you’re going to fail miserably.

So instead of trying to change every single aspect of your diet, exercise regime and lifestyle in general, make a few small tweaks and build on them.

Join a gym, try and improve your diet and maybe invest in some supplements to help you out. You can get more specific and look to increase protein intake, or cut down on sugar, but that’s as far as you should go. Suddenly cutting out all the food you like, moving into the gym and living off only broccoli and chicken isn’t exactly a recipe for New Year happiness is it? So keep it simple and keep changes small to start.

6. Give yourself 6 months


Image source: Flickr
Find yourself a calendar, and look towards June.

The Burj Khalifa, Rome and my back patio all have one thing in common. None of them were built in a day. Not much in the world is. So to expect your body to go from Jabba the Hutt to Arnold in a few weeks is pretty moronic.

Patience is key, and likewise commitment. You may well get “beginner gains” as your body responds to your new regime. But after the early stages, you might think, “what now?”

Set yourself a 6 month review. Am I enjoying it? Do I feel the benefit? Am I closer to my actual goal? Is Sheila likely to go on a date with me now? If you can answer yes to any of them, you are onto a winner. If the answer is no, then you should review what you have done, set yourself a new target and maybe forget about Sheila.

7. Form over weight

No one wants to just lift the bar, or to be on the lightest setting on a machine. But until you are comfortable doing an exercise, this is where you should start: light.

Training with weights that are too heavy is one of the most common mistakes anyone makes. It can cause injury, muscle imbalances and loud crashing noises when you drop the weight.

So if you want to avoid injuring yourself, and stopping any chance you may have of making friends, then keep it light to start, and, yep, you guessed it, build from there. As your form improves, so will your muscles, and so will the weight.

8. Ignore others (optional)

Black Headphones.

Take a look at Matrix Nutrition’s playlist of 2015

Some, and this is a small percentage of gym newcomers, fail because they get looked at, laughed at or made fun of on the internet. These days one is required to use the term “haters” for such occurrences. And though that sounds like something a fourteen year old One Direction fan would say, it is true.

If you are quite large, and are looking to do something about it, then go you. Don’t let some moron who thinks they are god’s gift to man be your excuse.

So we hope you can take these 8 tips, and really achieve whatever it is you want to achieve. As always, we are available to help. Just drop us a message on social media. Good luck!

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