Planning is key – before every gym session, write a plan of what you are going to achieve in that session. Include which muscle groups you are going to train, which exercises you are going to do, and how many reps and sets of each exercise. Whether you write the plan yourself, or take inspiration from someone else, having a clear plan will always lead to a much more efficient workout. There’s nothing worse than getting to the gym and wondering round aimlessly not knowing what to do, before half heartedly completing a few sets of a few different exercises and then leaving because you’ve run out of ideas. Go in with an idea of how long you intend to be there for to avoid getting side tracked and losing focus.
If you can, plan ahead for the week. Consider work and social commitments and write down the days that you are going to make it to the gym. When you know how many times a week you’ll be working out, you can then go on to think of a work out split – meaning which muscle groups you are going to exercise on which days. This would fully depend on your personal goals and what you are aiming to achieve.
Being in the gym can be daunting and even intimidating at times if you’re unsure of what you are doing. Learning to overcome gym intimidation and feel confident in yourself in essential to make sure you get the most out of your time there. Here is where the term ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ comes in to play. Act confident and no one will believe anything different, remember everyone is there for the same reason and everyone is so absorbed in what they’re doing that no one will even give you a second look! Put your headphones in with your favourite song on repeat and shut out the rest of the world. On that note, I highly recommend making a ‘gym’ playlist beforehand to save yourself the distraction of constantly getting your phone out and flicking through your music when Bohemian Rhapsody or Moana comes on shuffle in the middle of a heavy set (learnt from experience – very unmotivating). Try not to get distracted by your phone at all, turn it on flight mode if you’re going to use it for music, or leave it behind if you don’t need it at all! Training with a friend can be great, but if you also find this another distraction - an excuse to sit and chat and not get a lot done then think is it better to go alone?
From experience I’ve learnt that timing your rest periods between sets is a great way to keep focussed. Depending on your fitness goals you may need anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes between sets (I usually go for about 60 seconds on average), and timing exactly rather than guessing can be helpful. This will save you from resting for too little time and not letting your muscles fully recover, or getting distracted and resting for too long! Keep your focus on what you want to achieve and get the most out of the work you put in.
Lastly, I would always recommend eating 1-2 hours before you workout. There’s nothing worse than going to the gym on a full stomach and feeling bloated or uncomfortable, it’s important to let your food fully digest. On the other hand, training when hungry won’t allow you to put in as much effort due to a lack of energy, and constantly thinking about going home and eating - rushing through your workout isn’t ideal either! Find a good balance – everyone’s bodies react differently so experiment and find out what works best for you.
- Emily Lupton, Gaia Spa's Fitness Team -
Find out more about fitness and the Gaia Spa membership here.