Straight to the Bar

All Things Strength

HELPING YOU GET STRONGER SINCE 2004

Best Gym Exercises for Beginners: Navigate Your First Gym Visit
Posted By Jain Sourabh

Deciding to join the gym – or create a home gym for yourself – is an excellent lifestyle choice. Regardless of your weight and physical strength, working out should be a part of your daily routine in order to keep your body functioning optimally. Now that you have made this excellent choice, it is time to collect your workout gear and head to the gym for your very first day. This guide will detail how to spend your first time at the gym as a beginner.

Beginner Workout at the Gym


A common mistake beginners make at the gym is overworking their bodies on the very first day. It is important to set realistic goals for yourself, and keep the first few days for warming up and building body strength to handle physical exertion. Overworking your muscles on the very first day can lead to exhaustion, poor sleep, and even injury.

Here is how to navigate your very first day for optimal results.

Warming Up

Beginning your first workout without warming up can be disastrous, and even more so if you usually lead a sedentary lifestyle. Warming up will prepare your muscles for training and will get the blood flowing, so that you don’t sustain any injuries or unbearably sore muscles after your first day. The best way to warm up is to stretch your body with various moves that cover all your muscles. This is called Dynamic Stretching. 

Start off by slowly walking or jogging on the treadmill. Do this for 5 minutes at a slow pace, without tiring yourself out. You can also hop on the stationary bike and pedal for 5 minutes. Remember that the purpose right now is just to get your body moving. If you are at your home gym, simply march or jog in place for 5-10 minutes. Then, perform a combination of these stretches for at least 3-5 minutes in total to warm up your body.

  • Jumping Jacks
  • Walking Lunges
  • Leg Swings
  • Arm Swings
  • Shoulder Circles
  • Butt Kicks
  • Side Bends
  • Knee Hugs

Your body should already feel like it’s in workout mode!

Beginner Strength Workout

The next step is to start building your strength. It is unreasonable to try to lose weight or build muscle on your very first day. At this point, it is simply about preparing your body and strengthening it for the workouts to come in the next few weeks. If you are at a commercial gym, use the following machines for your strength workout.

Leg Press

This is an easy machine to use for a beginner and does wonders for building leg muscle. Start with a very easy weight level and one set of 10 movements. If you feel like you can do more, do another set with some added weight. Even if this does not tire you out, don’t push yourself to the fullest on the first day.

leg press

Rowing Machine

Rowing is highly recommended because it engages your entire body. Select a light level of resistance and row for 5 minutes. Then increase the resistance while still keeping it at a comfortable level, and row for another 5 minutes.

rowing machine

Step-Up Machine

Step-Up is also great for beginners and works on building both your legs and your arms. You can easily perform 2-3 sets of 10 each.

stepping machine

Tricep Push-Down Machine

Your first day should include some exclusively upper body workouts, since this is the area where most people lack if they don’t work out on a daily basis. You can do 15-30 reps on the tricep machine with a comfortable level of resistance.

tricep pushdown machine

Bicep Curls

As a beginner, you should start exploring dumbbells on the lower weight end. Sit on a stability ball with your spine straight, and use light dumbbells to do 15-30 bicep curls. Increase the dumbbell weight slightly if you don’t feel any muscle strain.

bicep curl

Plank

A 30-second plank is a great way to wrap up your workout by engaging your entire core! It might be difficult for you to achieve the 30-second mark on your very first try, but maintain the plank position for as long as you can.

plank

Cool Down Cardio

Finally, cool your body down with 5 minutes on any cardio machine that you prefer. A treadmill or recumbent bike should be the easiest. Stay at a slow pace and allow your heart rate to return to normal. This will prevent extreme muscle soreness, while also keeping your metabolism high for the next few hours to come.

cardio cool down

Cooling Stretches

Repeat the stretches that you began with one more time. This is an important step that stretches your muscles and keeps them from tearing. With these final stretches, you would have completed a very successful and effective first day at the gym!

stretching

Additional Tips for Your First Day at the Gym

Optimize your first day at the gym with these useful tips in mind:

  • Work with a trainer. If you are completely unfamiliar with gym exercises, it is advisable to seek the help of a trainer at the gym to ensure you don’t injure your muscles.
  • Stay hydrated. Make sure you repeatedly drink water during your workout to keep your stamina high.
  • Invest in gym attire. Proper gym apparel will keep you comfortable during your workout and make sure your stretching isn’t hindered. You can shop quality gym apparel at many shops both in the ‘real world’ and online.
  • Start slow. You might feel like you can do more, but a 30-45 minute workout is ideal for your first day. Pushing your body too much can exhaust it and decrease your performance in the days to come. Build your strength slowly but steadily. 

If you have decided to start working out but don’t have the time to regularly visit a gym, you can easily set up your own studio gym at home. Find affordable gym equipment at Nirvana Fitness and start working out within your home.

Over to you. Drop us a line on Twitter ( @scottbird ), or add a comment below.

Cheers.

 

NB : if you love talking about strength-training as much as I do, you might also like to check out the weekly newsletter (there's also a daily version available). A regular dose of fitness-focussed discussions, absolutely free.

1 Comment

  1. Scott Bird

    Cheers Jain, timely article. Certainly plenty of people heading to the gym (or building one) after being locked down for months.

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Monday, 12 Jul 2021 – Strength & Fitness Newsletter - […] Best Gym Exercises for Beginners: Navigate Your First Gym VisitJain Sourabh (Nirvana Fitness) | Follow @nirvana_techGet started the right…

Leave a Reply

What's This?

Straight to the Bar is the online home of fitness enthusiast Scott Bird, and looks at the many training approaches, essential techniques, uncommon exercises and superb equipment to help you become as strong as humanly possible. In short, this site is the home of all things strength.

images of strength

Strong.

Want to see (and learn) more Feats of Strength like this? Dive in.

Just Joined Us? Try These.

There are some incredible writers on the team here. To give you an idea, check these out :

If you enjoyed these, check out the complete ‘Best Of Straight to the Bar‘ list. Fantastic.

setting up a home gym?

If you’re getting ready to put together a solid Home Gym (fantastic thing), here’s how.

For more, swing by the full guide. Absolutely free.

And of course, you’ll find everything you need over in the SttB Strength Store. Massive range.

Ever Tried Kettlebells?

If you’ve seen people using them but never taken the plunge yourself, here are the ones I use personally. You can also pick up a book/DVD/course if you want to learn how to put them to work.

Ready To Learn Even More?

I love learning new skills, and the many seminars & workshops available are a great way to do that. If you’re looking for a specific type of workshop nearby, check out the ones on Dragon Door. Great mix of kettlebell and calisthenics-based offerings.

The Precision Nutrition Certification Program

The Precision Nutrition Certification Program

The Precision Nutrition Certification Program.

If you’re a fitness professional and love the Precision Nutrition approach, check out their certification offering. To say it’s comprehensive is an understatement.

Wherever You Are, We Are.

In addition to the main site, you can share your strength-training passion with a like-minded community on :

Wherever you like to hang out, get your regular dose of strength. Straight to the Bar.

Written By Jain Sourabh
Jain Sourabh is part of the team at Nirvana Fitness, a gym equipment supplier in Melbourne, Australia. And yes, understandably, obsessed with fitness.
Drawing of Scott Andrew Bird performing a deadlift. Artwork by Vince Palko.