What's the first thing I should do in a gym?

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  • What's the first thing I should do in a gym?
  • nicko74
    Member

    First thing to do in the gym? Probably get changed. Jeans and a winter jacket are OK for noobs, but after a while the chafing can really put a dampener on your program

    TooTall
    Member

    First thing to do? Get some proper advice from a real live human being who can show you how to use the equipment and how to do the exercises properly. If you are that unaware of the kit and what you might need to do, then find someone – pay a pro if you have to – to give you the proper pointers. If not, you’ll likely injure yourself.
    Does your work have access to instructors at all? If not, can you find a local fitness centre that does introduction sessions? Perhaps pay a personal trainer type to come in to work and do a couple of sessions and set you off in the right direction.

    Sam
    Member

    Second the Rippetoe Starting Strength book.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber
    Premier Icon coolhandluke
    Subscriber

    Spot the MILF with the best behind on a thread mill or cross trainer and select the gym machine behind her.

    I bet you’ll stay on that machine for a while longer than you would if a fatty was on the treadmill therefore rather than being a bit creepy, it’s actually good for you, probably.

    antigee
    Member

    Sounds like you might need to move to a busier gym for this to work effectively but a lot of people favour sitting on a machine and checking their texts, update Facebook, ask questions on STW – do this until other people run out of options and then start your first set. Don’t forget that extended smartphone use between sets aids recovery as does a good old chat

    The time crunched cyclist book has some basic exercises shown with bands and dumbbells but the same routine would be easier with machines for a lot of the exercises

    KINGTUT
    Member

    Warm up if you like I generally don’t unless I’ve run before hand, when it comes to the weights compound lifts are the best bet for a beginner such as;

    Bench Press
    Shoulder Press
    Bent Over Row
    Deadlift
    Squats

    These lifts will attack all muscles of the body equally giving you all over strength and muscle development, by all means do isolation exercises (such as bicep curl) but you really will get better results from compound lifts, it also makes for a shorter more intense workout so you are less likely to get bored.

    If you want to build muscle mass eat more (bulking), if you want to be scientific about it and can be bothered you can clean bulk by working out all your daily protein and carb intake or you can dirty bulk by just eating more and making sure you get plenty of protein (about 1g per lb of body weight), be warned dirty bulking is likely to increase body fat slightly as well although that should come off eventually.

    mrmonkfinger
    Member

    go and buy starting strength by rippetoe, it is good.

    zilogs post is good. so is kingtuts.

    at the gym
    – do freeweight squats, deadlifts, presses, rows & pullups
    – avoid weights machines (less effective than freeweights), cardio machines (boring), anything containing the words “core” (faddy bullshit)

    at home
    – eat a lot of food, meat & 2 veg type stuff
    – rest

    on the internet
    – ignore everything anyone tells you, there is a far too much conflicting crap written about strength for you to know what is useful and what is useless

    oh, and

    So what’s your favourite bit of kit and why?

    squat rack, barbell & weights

    because everything else is either less effective in varying degrees, or a pointless distraction

    BTW, I concede cardio machines (rowers/treadmills are best IMO) have their place but I’d rather be outside riding a bike.

    Premier Icon howsyourdad1
    Subscriber

    I gotta disagree about squats and deadlifts. As a beginner, training alone with no guidance, I would start on a mix of machines and some free weights. Build a little strength first, then after a few months switch to deadlifts, bench and so on.

    Premier Icon zilog6128
    Subscriber

    I would start on a mix of machines and some free weights. Build a little strength first, then after a few months switch to deadlifts, bench and so on.

    It is the stabilising muscles, balance, etc. that you need for free weights and you aren’t going to get that using machines so you will need to start from scratch on the free weights anyway. You can start barbell exercises from an empty bar if necessary if strength is a problem.

    mrmonkfinger
    Member

    incidentally, bruce lee (I read) did a lot of olympic lifts, and compound freeweight lifts (squats/deads/presses/rows)

    plus an absolute crap load of lightning fast ass kicking, obviously.

    Premier Icon DezB
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    Ask on a dating website. All the women on there go to the gym.

    Premier Icon howsyourdad1
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    That’s why I would use a mix .

    mrmonkfinger
    Member

    As a beginner, training alone with no guidance, I would start on a mix of machines and some free weights

    Couldn’t disagree more.

    The compound free weights exercises mentioned above are all natural movement patterns.

    As zilog says, if strength is a ‘problem’, start light with the bar. If the bar is too awkward, do them without a bar.

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    The compound free weights exercises mentioned above are all natural movement patterns.

    Although if you don’t know what you’re doing you can easily trash your lower back with squats and deadlifts. Eg you won’t know what range of motion over which you keep a constant lower back curvature whilst squatting without someone watching from the side and telling you. When I started I had quite poor flexibility and could only squat to 90 degrees before my lower back switched from concave to convex. A year or so later I can keep it concave all the way till I bottom out on my calves, mainly through a lot of stretching.

    Another one most people do incorrectly is Bench Press, pressing with the shoulders floating and the bar high up the chest. To reduce the risk of shoulder injuries you need to learn to use your lats to pull your shoulders down and into your chest and press off the whole body (also locking abs to create a solid platform from the hips to the neck).

    Premier Icon howsyourdad1
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    As a beginner, training alone with no guidance, I would start on a mix of machines and some free weights
    Couldn’t disagree more.

    The compound free weights exercises mentioned above are all natural movement patterns.

    As zilog says, if strength is a ‘problem’, start light with the bar. If the bar is too awkward, do them without a bar.

    Well either way, whatever route you decide some training in the gym, squats and deadlifts, on machines or free weights or whatever you choose is better than nothing!

    Have fun and you’ll figure it out!

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    As Dan John says, if you only have time for one exercise, make it Squats.

    But get someone to show you how….

    Premier Icon zilog6128
    Subscriber

    Although if you don’t know what you’re doing you can easily trash your lower back with squats and deadlifts.

    That’s why you buy, read & understand Starting Strength 😉 – over 50 pages dedicated to “how to squat” alone! I workout on my own so videoed my lifting a lot to check my form. Still took over a year before I was 100% satisfied with my form though, and it’s important not to get carried away with the weight until your form is good.

    Getting someone to show you is a great idea IF you know anyone who knows about good lifting form. For me, I didn’t, nor did I have any idea where I’d find such a person. Certainly not any of the “instructors” I’ve seen whenever I’ve been in a commercial gym (fortunately those days are long behind me now!)

    Premier Icon DezB
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    OP: I personally just want to increase upper body strength

    reply: if you only have time for one exercise, make it Squats.

    You can tell this is the right place for advice. 😆

    TooTall
    Member

    There is a bit of a lack of empathy going on here. So many people saying ‘get on the free weights’ to a man who evidently doesn’t know what he is doing. Can’t you remember when you were new at this, or have you forgotten, or are you of the MTFU brigade?

    Get someone to show you what the equipment does and how to use it. If your work doesn’t have some sort of initial briefing for the gym equipment then that’s a bit gash.

    Premier Icon DezB
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    TooTall – It’s just the usual “I’m an expert, me” stuff that goes on here.
    (In amongst the good advice, I might add 😉 )

    breatheeasy
    Member

    Get someone to show you what the equipment does and how to use it. If your work doesn’t have some sort of initial briefing for the gym equipment then that’s a bit gash.

    In fact I’m surprised there isn’t some H&S thing that means you can’t use the gym until someone has shown you round!

    KINGTUT
    Member

    In fact I’m surprised there isn’t some H&S thing that means you can’t use the gym until someone has shown you round!

    There is in most gyms.

    scud
    Member

    If it is to improve your cycling, then I would use the spin bikes to do some high intensity intervals, much easier to take your heart rate up to 85-90% on a spin bike and to keep a structured routine than on a real bike, may be Suffervest videos or similar to keep the interest.

    If you want to do some weight training and are in it to improve cycling (not just to get disco shirt muscles) then this is a good book:

    The rowing machine is a great tool, but make sure you use it correctly, especially for good for MTB’ing, building a strong core and some strength in your shoulders and arms.

    Some good stretches here:
    http://www.bikeradar.com/gear/article/eight-stretching-exercises-for-cyclists-26074/

    When i was training for a big 250 mile ride last year and due to time constraints of wife working shifts and childcare, i used gym each lunchtime like this:
    Monday – intervals on spin bike, interval to replicate climbing, so high resistance.
    Tuesday – rowing machine for 40 minutes, level 8, 30 strokes per minute.
    Wednesday, 10 min warm up on elliptical trainer + weights.
    Thursday – intervals on spin bike, lower resistance – high cadence.
    Friday – 10 min warm up on trainer plus weights

    Saturday – REST
    Sunday – Long ride on an actual real bike. I’d then substitute the rowing day for riding real bike if i got chance during the week which was rare.

    might give you a few ideas.

    mrmonkfinger
    Member

    So many people saying ‘get on the free weights’ to a man who evidently doesn’t know what he is doing

    If he bought and read starting strength, he’d know enough to walk in the gym and get started.

    Can’t you remember when you were new at this, or have you forgotten, or are you of the MTFU brigade?

    No, I haven’t forgotten. My advice is still to get right on the freeweights. The OP is going to do some training in the gym and wants to know what is best – the answer from me is freeweights. It’s disingenuous to try and label this advice as insensitive, or to deliver an underhand insult (“the MTFU brigade” – really?) simply because you disagree with it.

    scud
    Member

    I’m with Mrmonkfinger, just because you are doing free weights doesn’t mean you are going to get in trouble. If you read up on it, if you don’t do the classic thing of trying to lift far too much (and doing it for 2 reps) and you’re sensible about it, then why not. Start squats just using the bar etc.

    If you are a fool and try to lift your own bodyweight straight away, and knacker your back or pin yourself to the bench that’s another matter, it is all about being sensible and knowing your limits to start with.

    Premier Icon DezB
    Subscriber

    If it is to improve your cycling

    OP: I personally just want to increase upper body strength

    mrmonkfinger
    Member

    one more for a hat trick DezB 🙂

    JEngledow
    Member

    I know you just want to increase upper body, but these videos seem quite good and there is some upper body stuff that might help with building that and improve your cycling: http://www.pinkbike.com/u/mtbstrengthcoach/channel/all/

    Premier Icon DezB
    Subscriber

    I know you just want to increase upper body

    Dammit!

    lilchris
    Member

    Get yourself a personal trainer to kick you into shape.

    scud
    Member

    You can increase upper body strength, which can be useful in mountain biking? Or you can increase muscle size and look a dickhead with a huge inflated torso and arms, but legs like a gnat like half of the kids in the gym?

    Always with the pedants in this place!

    Strength and muscle size aren’t always the same thing, many power lifters are half the size of body builders. Look at someon like Gee Atherton, does a huge amount of gym work and weight training, is no doubt physically strong, but doesn’t look like an overinflated baffoon??

    TooTall
    Member

    The OP is going to do some training in the gym and wants to know what is best – the answer from me is freeweights. It’s disingenuous to try and label this advice as insensitive, or to deliver an underhand insult (“the MTFU brigade” – really?) simply because you disagree with it.

    freeweights, yes. Unsupervised freeweights with no prior knowledge? No way is that a good idea. Short cut to bad form and doing something dangerous with something that can hurt. I see far more people doing freeweights with bad form than I see with good form.

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    Cycling specific weight training:

    Upper body stength? Get a singlespeed and say goodbye to your days of seated climbing.

    Actualy, I’m in the same position as you (3 broken arms in 2 years, tried to do an FTP test the other week and actualy failed to manage to ride for 20min!), if you’re as unfit as me then getting a SS and commuting is about as close to a DH specific workout as you’ll get. Save the gym for ‘marginal gains’ once you’re as cycling fit as you can be.

    sharkattack
    Member

    Thanks everyone, loads of good advice buried in between the hilarious quips and jpegs. This might be my longest thread ever! Painfully obvious how many people read just the thread title and go from there.

    I’m going to pick up some of the suggested reading material and get started.

    This is what I do.

    Workout A
    Deadlift
    Bench Press
    Rows

    Workout B
    Squats
    Pullups
    Shoulder Press

    5 x 5 for each after several warm up sets with less weight.

    Throw in some abdominal exercises as well, leg raises, sit ups etc (I do them between the 2 upper body exercises in each workout)

    3 non consecutive days a week, just alternate the workouts.

    Think long(ish) term and start off with weight you can fairly easily lift so that you can concentrate on technique/form, then start upping the weight 5% at a time when you can complete the 5 x 5.

    The ratios of weight lifted should be approx 5:4:3:2 for deadlift:squat:bench/row:shoulder press.

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