Tuesday, 3 July 2012

How to push yourself at the gym

If you're following me - and I know there are five of you out there - you've probably forgotten you follow me, because it's been a while since I posted. I've averaged about one post every 7 or 8 weeks of this year so far, but my plan is to at least try for a weekly post.

As I was pushing myself on the treadmill today ( I'd already done 10 minutes cycling, and followed the run with 20 minutes on the cross-trainer) I looked around and noticed how other people weren't sweating buckets and glowing bright red. These people come to the gym - mostly women, I'm sad to say - potter about on a couple of machines, maybe lift a dumbbell or two, and leave. Some of them leave with their make-up fully in tact - whereas I do not, ever ever wear make-up to the gym because it wouldn't last two minutes.

These ladies, who look lovely and are able to catch up on their reading while cycling, will find that in a couple of months they will still have the same levels of fitness as they did today. They will still weigh the same, even though they're convinced they should be losing tens of pounds because they come to the gym three times a week. After a while, they'll become disillusioned and give up.

I don't want you to give up. I want everyone who walks into a gym for the first time to achieve their goals eventually. I want them to enjoy working out, to even grow to love it like I do!

So, what's the right way to push yourself?

  • Workout at the right heart rate -we use the Karvonen formula, which allows for a higher working heart rate zone. This link is interesting, because it compares different formulas.
  • If you haven't increased the levels on your cardio machines for a few weeks, just increase it by one. You can always lower it back down half-way through the programme, but you should find that after a couple of sessions you won't need to.
  • Increase the weight you lift by the smallest increment available and see if you can complete the same number of reps. If you can, do the same after another couple of sessions until you have to reduce your reps a little bit.
  • Do not be afraid to sweat.
  • Don't worry whether other people are watching you. They'll be stares of admiration.
  • At our gym, we offer regular reviews of your programme. I know some gyms don't offer that service or charge - if that's the case, get an instructor to check your technique periodically. It's very easy to fall into bad practices.
  • Use the mirrors to check your technique - that's what they are there for.
These are just a few ways to make sure you are always pushing yourself. Although it might not be what you want to hear, working out should never be easy. But, as your fitness, endurance and strength increase, you'll be able to handle it better!

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