First Time at the Gym? Here is what you do

The decision has been made. You are going to join a gym. What now?

You will let the decision stew for a day or two and you will probably change your mind or more likely you will just forget.

Don’t be that person.

Making the decision is only the first baby step you have taken toward building a muscular body. The next baby step would be to show up at the gym. You need to motivate yourself and there are plenty of ways of doing that:

Find Your Motivation

  • First, remove all the invisible barriers that you are putting in your own way.
    • “Weather is too cold, too hot, rainy, etc. Didn’t eat anything good so cannot go to the gym.”
  • Buy the right gym gear. Making a purchase like that gives you a reason to use them.
  • Join a gym you like the first chance you get.
  • Visualize your goal for going to the gym.
  • Find a partner to join you at the gym or find one. Remember, while a partner is important, not having one around could demotivate you, so learn to go the distance alone too – in the end, it is all about individual progress.
  • Don’t be too ambitious, you won’t become a young Arnold Schwarzenegger in one month.
  • Keep a close track on what progress you are making. Weigh yourself, measure your bicep, etc.

Photo by: Men’s Health

These don’t get you to the gym then nothing will.

What to do at the gym

Now that you are pumped up for going to the gym, you will need to know what to do when you actually get to the gym. Not to worry, we have you covered. These instructions are for your first day at the gym, we will be back with more focused muscle building exercises in our future blogs.

Pack a Gym Bag

Before you leave for the gym you should put together a gym bag, you will be thanking us later.

Pack a towel, a water bottle, a change of clothes, gym gloves, your favorite music player and you will be all set.

Warming Up

Finally, you are at the gym. Time to lift some weights, maybe not just yet. You have to do your warm ups before you can start the workout.

Warm up exercises

First, you need to perform some basic body weight workouts to warm up your muscles.

  • 5-10 pushups x 3
  • 5-10 Squats x 3
  • 3-5 pullups x3

Then you can move onto stretching.


Do a dynamic stretch routine and stretch your body to prepare for the workout:

  • Stand up straight and raise your hands over your shoulder, clasp your fingers together, and take them all the way up, stretching your shoulders and chest. Repeat for 8-10 reps.
  • Perform a lunge and bring your upper body down and touch the foot of the leg that is in the front. Straighten the leg while keeping your upper body in place. Hold for 3-5 seconds. Repeat with the other leg.
  • Stand up straight and hold your hands together over your head, interlace your fingers. Bend towards your right slightly and hold for 5 seconds. Bend your body to the left and hold for 5 seconds.
  • Hold your hands behind your back, interlace your fingers if possible. Bend down and bring your hands towards your head. Hold for 5 seconds.
  • In a sitting position, bend your knees and put together the soles of your feet. Put your hands on the floor slowly while trying to keep your hands straight. Hold for 5 seconds.

You can add more rounds of these stretches if you feel like your muscles require a bit more loosening up.

The goal is to get your heart rate up just with the stretches; if you are not sweating by the end of the session, you are not doing it right.

Hit the Weights

It’s finally time to lift some weight – arghhh!

You have to give a wakeup call to every muscle group in your body. Beginning with your arms.

Pick up some dumbbells. Pick ones that you are comfortable with and then put them back and pick up some lighter ones. After 5-6 reps that comfortable weight gets to be very uncomfortable.

Dumbbell alternate curls:

  • You can do this exercise either standing up or sitting down on a bench.
  • Stand up straight and hold the dumbbells so that your palms are turned towards your body.
  • Bring one dumbbell up, while keeping your elbow in and rotating your forearm.
  • Bring the dumbbell to your shoulder level and breathe out.
  • Repeat the movement with the other arm.
  • Perform 8-12 reps and 2-3 sets.

Triceps Curls:

  • Stand up straight with your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Lift a dumbbell with both hands and move it over your head.
  • Bring down your hands so they are positioned at the back of your head.
  • Lift the weight by moving your elbow joint and keep your upper arm in place.
  • Make sure to keep the movement stable.
  • Perform 8-12 reps and 2-3 sets.

Seated barbell shoulder press:

  • Again, you have to try the exercise without weights on the barbell.
  • Sit down on the edge of a bench, preferably one that has a back support, hold the bar on a rack or on your legs.
  • Grip the bar properly and lift it up in front your head at shoulder level.
  • Keep your elbows out and push the bar up slowly over your head until your arms are straight.
  • Bring it back down to shoulder height slowly.
  • Perform 8-12 reps and 2-3 sets.

Bench press:

  • Don’t put any weight on the bar if this is your first time doing a bench press. You can add some weight to the next set if it feels too light.
  • Lie down on the bench and hold the bar by the grips marked on it.
  • Un-rack the bar and bring it down slowly towards your chest.
  • Push it back up while keeping your feet flat on the ground.
  • Exhale as you are pushing the bar up.
  • Perform 8-12 reps and 2-3 sets.

Leg Press:

  • You will need to use the leg press machine for this.
  • Put a light weight plate on the machine.
  • Take your position in the machine and put your legs on the weight platform.
  • Release the safety lever and push the weight up while exhaling, until your legs are straight.
  • Bring the weight down slowly and inhale.
  • Perform 6-10 reps and 1-2 sets.

This should be enough for day one, if you want to try out other exercise machines, then you can. But remember not to lift too much weight or do too many reps.

After you are done you should do a 10 minute cool down routine, it can be a slow jog on the treadmill or any activity of your choice.


You have just made it through your first gym workout, give yourself a pat on the back if your arms allow.

You have to start thinking about nutrition soon after finishing your workout – and in case you’re wondering what sort of nutrition is required then you should check this out. It is recommended that you refuel your body within 30 minutes of the workout. Stay away from food with fat. Instead, you need protein and good nutrients to heal the small tears in your muscles. A milk shake or a smoothie is a good start.

Muscle Soreness

It’s a reality, you cannot avoid muscle soreness when you first workout. And it will be bad, but don’t be deterred. It is a necessary part of working out and there are ways to soothe the sore muscles.

  • Ice the muscles.
  • Take warm baths (heat can be soothing).
  • Do light activity for relief from soreness, like walking, stretching, etc.
  • Lots and lots of rest.
  • Cherry juice is beneficial for muscle soreness.
  • Drink lots of water, dehydrated muscles are sorer.

We will hold the congratulations on your surviving the first workout until you have actually done it and not just read about doing it. Stick to the plan and you can always ask the trainers available at the gym for advice on proper form and technique.

Want to know something more about muscle building? Ask away by commenting below.

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