HOW TO START AND MAINTAIN A GYM HABIT


Whether you’re a complete beginner or someone that lacks consistency with maintaining a habit of going to the gym, there are some fundamental principles that you can adopt to improve your gym experience. The foundational principles will provide you with all the knowledge, motivation and excitement you need to create a consistent gym routine.

Starting with the complete beginners, going to the gym for the first time can put you outside your comfort zone. You’re not sure what to expect, what the best time of the day to go is, what equipment to use, how to use equipment properly, or what the correct gym etiquette is. All of these uncertainties can discourage you from forming a habit of going to the gym.

Research

An essential first step is to begin researching before you step into a gym. Research can automatically remove a lot of your hesitations about the gym, like correct gym etiquette or how to use the equipment. Information on every piece of equipment and all the gym rules is available online or in books.

You will be able to find the questions to all of your answers on these types of topics. Many people step into the gym, feel uncomfortable, and feel like everyone is looking at them because they don’t know what they’re doing. This situation can be easily avoided by researching gym etiquette, gym exercises, equipment use, and any other questions you have.

If you’re not a beginner, but you just haven’t formed a consistent gym habit, then research is the first step here too. If you’ve been to the gym before, you will already know what to expect. But since you haven’t formed a consistent gym habit, it means you haven’t done enough research.

Research and preparation are critical. Imagine you’ve got a busy week at work starting on Monday. In the first scenario, you forget all about work over the weekend, you do no preparation, and you tell yourself you’ll deal with it when you get into work on Monday morning.

The second scenario is that you spend some time over the weekend getting organised for Monday. You set a plan and set some goals over the weekend of what you want to achieve by the end of your busy work week. You have an action plan ready for when you go to work on Monday.

When Monday comes around, do you think you’re going to be more motivated based on the first scenario or the second scenario? When you get into work on Monday, having not prepared, you’re going to feel unmotivated and face a lot of resistance. But if you go to work having prepared in advance, you’re going to feel more enthusiastic and fired up to start the week.

The gym works the same way. The more time you put into research, the more invested you will become in the gym. It will improve your gym performance because you’ll better understand how to get the most out of the exercises. You’ll feel excited to test things out that you’ve researched, and you’ll feel invested because you’ve spent time researching. Spending a small amount of time researching in advance can create a huge difference in how much focus, motivation and energy you have for the gym.

Using your intuition

One thing that shocks people when they start researching health and fitness is how many sources of information are online and how much conflicting information there is. Two scientific journals are often stating contradicting results to one another. The way to overcome this influx of information is to continue researching.

The more you research, the more you develop an intuition for what advice you should listen to. Certain information will start resonating with you; particular exercises will look more appealing to you. There might be specific people in the health and fitness sector that you buy into.

As you research more, you develop trust in yourself, and you go with your intuition. Your life is filled with vast quantities of conflicting information, and as you go through life, your intuition grows, and you learn to trust your judgement. The gym works in the same way.

From a biological standpoint, you would assume certain exercises would promote the highest level of muscle growth for everybody, so they would be recognised as the best gym exercises. Or if your goal is something else like burning fat or increasing strength, you would assume the same exercises would work for everybody. But when you begin researching, you realise it doesn’t work like that.

Everybody has different body types, strengths and weaknesses, different muscular imbalances, different postures, etc. What works for one person is not guaranteed to work for another person. You have to use your intuition to assess what you think will work for you, and then you have to go and test that in the gym.

When you’re starting in the gym, it might feel like you’re the only person trying things out for the first time, but that’s not true. Everyone who attends the gym will be tweaking their gym workout once in a while, trying out new exercises and workouts, so it’ll never be the case that people have perfect form on every exercise they do. Instead, the gym is a continual learning process.

Simplicity is Key

Once you’ve done some basic research, the key is to refrain from researching too much information. Try to master the first set of exercises for each body group you’ve researched, and keep the momentum going. One of the biggest reasons people cannot maintain a gym routine for longer than a few months is that they try to do too much too quickly.

There are so many eye-grabbing videos and posts, such as six-pack abs in 12 weeks or creating the perfect body in 4 months. If you haven’t got momentum built up, going straight into a programme like this will not be beneficial for you in the long run. You might be able to complete it, but you won’t enjoy it, and it will tarnish your perception of the gym.

You want to build up slowly so that you can enjoy the exercises you’re doing. If you start with a primary group of exercises and stick with them for a few months, you’ll be able to see how much you’re progressing visually. Whereas if you’re constantly switching up exercises to find the most exciting thing, it’s challenging to track your progress.

All of the hardcore exercises come later once you’ve built up momentum. After you’ve been going to the gym for 6+ months, you can get to the point where the ‘burn’ no longer feels painful to endure because you’re used to it. Your mind associates it with muscle growth and releasing endorphins.

So for the first six months, focus on doing the fundamentals as well as you can. Research them as much as possible and become as proficient as possible. This strategy works for any type of exercise: weights, cardio, HIIT training, pilates, yoga or anything else you do at the gym. When you slow everything down and go at a good pace that you feel is enjoyable but challenging, you’ll see incredible results in the first six months.

It’s critical to go at a pace you feel you can sustain for six months. After six months of consistency, going to the gym will become firmly ingrained into your identity, and it will be hard to stay away from the gym.


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