Adapting to lifting for the first time can be more easily said than done. This is especially true if you’re hoping to do it right this time, using free weights as opposed to the machines your personal trainer might have told you to use. This means that in order to be a better personal athlete, it pays to take a few preparative steps in the effort of self-care.
The first month or so of a new lifting schedule can be quite difficult to adapt to, emotionally, physically and psychologically. We’d recommend the following to ensure you stick to this time, and to do so in the healthiest way possible:
Head To The Gym At The Same Time Daily
Heading to the gym at the same time daily can help you become used to the routine, and this helps you emotionally develop in sync with your renewed physical efforts. It’s hard adapting to a new schedule of intense physical work, particularly if you’re trying to learn exercises that might not otherwise be very comfortable with. Does this mean you should neglect to learn them? Not at all! Simply heading to the gym at the same time every time you go will often help you mentally attribute that time with working hard, and therefore will prepare yourself for it.
We’d recommend heading there as early in the day as you can, as this often helps you feel wonderful and rejuvenated for the rest of the day. Waking up and heading to the gym will often become something that is the new norm for you, and when this becomes a habit it’s much less easy to break it and fall into a lack of attendance.
Ignore The Flash Personal Training Antics, Do Home Research!
Personal trainers can be wonderful tools of self-development. They can also be experts at selling you what you don’t need. If they seemingly want you to workout on the machine circuit, if they don’t offer you a practical plan or lend you insight into the exercises you are doing, you are not a project but an income to the personal trainer. This means that you are best left to your own devices. As a default, you are likely best left to your own devices anyway. Often there are many plans such as Starting Strength or Stronglifts 5×5 that offer a comprehensive guide to the beginners lifting regimen.
You can hire a personal trainer to help you check your form, but be sure to understand that some trainers are educated in different manners. For example, a personal trainer with an understanding of Olympic lifting will be much more aware of lifting mechanics than someone who has potentially conducted the gym-approved cardio and Zumba course. This isn’t to disparage those who work as personal trainers in the least (they can be incredible tools of change,) but just be sure you know who and how you are investing in, and if a home study alternative might not be superior.
Often, it can be easy to experience micro-injuries or fatigues as a result of overtraining or exercising incorrect form. It might be that you have to adapt to an old injury you might have always had trouble with. For example, using kinesiology tape for a knee joint that might have seen better days when outside of gym or performing cardio can allow for that structural support that you might need the most. The same could be said for learning new bar grip methods to ensure you don’t injure calluses on your hands, or wearing a belt for squatting and deadlifting to help you press against your held breath and add more structural support to your spine.
Sometimes, mitigating injuries is as simple as eating enough (we mean plenty) and sleeping enough. The added drain on your system will often need to be combated in a way that makes sense, and your repair requirements will often be much more pronounced than they are usually. This means simply adding an hour or two to your nightly sleep pattern and raising your diet around 500 calories can be worthwhile depending on your goals.
Leave The Stretching Until After
Leave the stretching until after each workout. It’s very easy to try and do this at the beginning, and dynamic stretching will often help you adapt. However, performing your lifting range of motion with light weights (which you should be doing anyway) at the start of each workout and slowly raising the weight to your usual workload will be a worthwhile stretch enough. Static stretching beforehand can lead to pulled muscles when actually contributing to your work sets, so be sure to leave this as a method of cooling down those extremities after you have cooled down from workout out.
With these tips, you can be sure that adapting to lifting for the first time becomes sustainable, achievable, and enjoyable.