Five Steps to Make the Most of Your Gym Experience.

( The beginning of the year always brings new fitness enthusiasts to the gym. Unfortunately most do not stick around to long due to a number of reasons. The most popular reason is they simply do not know how to use the gym for the most effective workout. The gym can be your best friend – if you make the best of it!  Using the gym in a systematic way will lead to more results. The bottom line is to have a plan in place. You can make the best of your gym experience by following these five simple steps.


Warm Up

The warm up is the most neglected part of a workout these days. Gym-goers typically check in at the counter and head straight to the weights. Lifting weights (especially heavy weights) without a proper warm up is a recipe for injury. It’s best to perform a 7-10 minute low-impact warm-up before beginning your workout, preferably on a treadmill or recumbent bike. If you aren’t one for cardio machines, a simple jogging in place or around a concourse will do just fine. A warm-up is important because it increases the body temperature in preparation for the workout. Without one, your body remains cold and less flexible.


StretchCouple stretching in gym

Stretching is also a neglected part of the workout for most people. As a result, most people remain inflexible. The greater your flexibility the more likely your muscles will be challenged. Do a 3-5 minute series of stretches before you begin your workout. Something as simple as toe touches for your lower body and shoulder stretches for your upper body will do the trick. Or, you can use the stretching stations that are becoming more popular in gyms.


Do Cardio

After a warm up and some mild stretching, you have your choice of whether to do cardio first or life weights. There are several schools of thoughts regarding which way is most effective.  For some people, getting the cardiovascular training in before lifting weights seems best. For others, lifting weights first is preferable, since it may act to reserve energy resources that cardio training may deplete. Do what feels best for you. I personally like get my weight-lifting in first and then punctuate that feeling of ‘tightness’ with some high-intensity cardio. You should aim for 20-25 minutes of cardio on lifting days and 40-45 minutes on non-lifting days. With cardio training, you are maximizing the heart and lungs, so it’s important to get it in.


Lift Weights

The next phase of the workout is lifting weights (if you elect to do this one first). For most, lifting weights is the chief reason they go to the gym. After all, lifting weights increases one’s muscle and bone strength. The intensity of weight-lifting will depend on your fitness goals and your fitness levels. Don’t try to lift too heavy. Start out light and work your way up. Get some direction from fitness professional if you are unsure of where to begin. Lift weights for about 20 minutes, incorporating your compound muscle groups for maximum fat loss. If your goal is to get bigger, use heavier weights. If you just want to tone and increase fat loss, use lighter weights. One important note here: Women will not get ‘buffed’ like a man by lifting weights. Use high reps with light weights for best toning!


Cool Down

Again, another neglected aspect of getting fit – the cool down. Most people will jump off a stair master or elliptical machine with their heart rate at around fifty or sixty percent of their maximum heart rate. This is dangerous. It can cause a sudden drop in blood pressure, making you feel dizzy and disoriented. Gradually bring your heart rate down to about 30% of your maximum rate before ending your workout. If you’re lifting weights, it’s best to incorporate a low-intensity cool down before calling it quits.

The gym can be your best friend!

Staff Writer; W. Eric Croomes

This talented brother is a holistic lifestyle exercise expert and founder and executive coach of Infinite Strategies LLC, a multi-level coaching firm that develops and executes strategies for fitness training, youth achievement and lifestyle management. Eric is an author, fitness professional, holistic life coach and motivational speaker.

In October 2015, Eric released Life’s A Gym: Seven Fitness Principles to Get the Best of Both, which shows readers how to use exercise to attract a feeling of wellness, success and freedom (Infinite Strategies Coaching LLC, 2015) –