Everyone who goes to the gym remembers their first workout – a lot of unknown simulators, which you don’t know how to approach, and so little knowledge about exercises. To avoid the stress of the first visit and quickly get used to the iron, you need to prepare. If you are going to train with a personal trainer, then preparation is not required, and if you decide to train on your own, then you need a beginner training program, which will have to be changed taking into account your characteristics and contraindications.
Basic principles of beginner training
Most of the exercises in a beginner’s program should be on simulators, not dumbbells or a barbell. The trajectory of movement in most simulators is thought out for you, which makes them a suitable option for people who have not yet learned how to move correctly and do not feel the work of muscles in exercises.
One or two exercises in the program can be done with your own body weight and with dumbbells. Most often, squats, push-ups, press are done with the weight of their own body, and with dumbbells they work out the shoulders (calorizer). Beginners need to work out the muscles of the whole body with each workout in order to consolidate the skill of performing the exercises technically.
The service life of the first program is 4-8 weeks. This time is enough to improve your physical performance, master the technique of movements and prepare for difficult exercises.
How to choose exercises for training
70% of your workout should be in basic exercises. Before starting the program, you need to adapt it for yourself. Start by working out the large muscle groups in the lower body, gradually working up to the muscles of the shoulder girdle.
Thighs and buttocks
To train the muscles of the thighs and buttocks, the following are suitable: a platform for a leg press, trainers for extension / flexion of the legs, a crossover and machines for abduction / extension of the legs.
The leg press is a basic exercise that loads the entire muscle mass of the thigh. For beginners, the leg press is the best alternative to the barbell squat. Biomechanically, leg presses are more dangerous for the knee joints (control technique) than squats, but safer for the spine. Complete the front thigh leg press and the back thigh leg curl in appropriate machines.
For back problems, the leg press is your solution, but for sore knees it is not your option. Start your workout by abducting a straight leg on a block machine or a special machine, then do hyperextension and leg extension. These exercises do not put stress on the knee joint and allow you to fully work the muscles of the hips and buttocks.
For back workout, use a gravitron, a vertical block, a horizontal block, and a lever arm simulator. Gravitron pull-ups and vertical block pulls can be done by everyone – choose one of the two.
In case of a problematic back, it is worth replacing the traction of the horizontal block with a link arm. The support on the stomach allows you to keep your back straight and relieves the load on the lower back.
Do not rush to lie down under the barbell. Strengthen the stabilizer muscles with push-ups (you may need to start at the knees) or with a Hammer machine. These exercises will strengthen your pecs, triceps, and stabilizers to prepare and get the most out of the barbell press. Additional load on the chest muscles can be given in the Peck-Dec machine – this exercise will prepare you for raising the dumbbells on the bench.
Beginners should refrain from dumbbell presses, limiting themselves to dumbbell swings. This is a small muscle group and doesn’t require a lot of exercise. With the growth of training experience, you can add new exercises, but you should not do this at the beginning of training.
People with back problems should be aware that all upward presses should be done seated for further workouts. Standing dumbbell or barbell presses place a dangerous axial load on the spine. And people with shoulder injuries and those who want to keep their shoulders healthy need to decisively throw out the barbell press from behind the head and the pull of the upper block behind the head from the arsenal of exercises – these are useless and traumatic exercises.
But beginners do not need to train their hands. Biceps work in back rows, triceps in chest presses and push-ups. In the first 2 months of training, this load will be sufficient. Then you can add the extension and flexion of the arms on the block, curl of the arms in the simulator or with dumbbells.
People with back problems should refrain from using an incline press and hanging leg raises. An alternative would be twisting on the floor without lifting the lower back, planks.
Anyone can do cardio machines – you set the load yourself. The beginner’s cardio intensity should be within 65% of HR / max. People with varicose veins should choose an exercise machine more carefully. A recumbent bike will be the most suitable option for cardio training.
Going to the gym, you should know your contraindications. Not all trainers are qualified to find the right workout. You are responsible for your health. Always warm up before your workout and stretch your muscles afterwards (calorizator). Check out the correct exercise technique online. Remember, all machines are customizable. If it seems to you that the simulator does not suit you in height, reconfigure it.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to cover all aspects of training in one article. If you have obvious health problems, get permission and recommendations from your doctor before starting training, and then contact your trainer with these recommendations to give you an induction.