The new year comes with new goals – one of our favourites is kick-starting a fitness journey at the gym. There are a huge range of activities to undertake at every gym across Australia. Whether it be using free weights, using the machines, treadmills or body weight exercises, here are some general tips to get you in the groove at the gym safely. Here at Pivotal Motion Physiotherapy, we want you to be safe and supported by using safe and correct gym techniques. Continue reading to learn more about safely starting out the gym.
1. Stay hydrated
Good hydration means drinking the right amount of water before and after exercise. As your body releases sweat, it sustains optimal body temperature. However, drinking water is essential to replace the lost fluid and will ensure optimal functioning capacity.
2. Warm up and cool down
As discussed in previous blogs, warming up your muscles is integral to achieving your maximum potential. A dynamic warm up increases the blood flow throughout the body and allows adequate oxygenation throughout your workout. A cool down is also a very important method to loosen the muscles you have targeted, allowing them to recover well for your next session.
3. Good posture
Good posture is essential for protecting your spine. Your spine is made of interconnecting vertebrae, jelly-like discs and all of which protects the spinal cord and allows movement. Lower back pain as discussed previously on blogs can be extremely disabling. To ensure the exercises you undertake are hitting the right targets and not hurting your back, our tips are to ensure correct posture. These include:
Keeping your shoulders relaxed and down
Holding your neck in line with your spine and your pelvis tucked slightly under while pulling your belly button in towards your spine.
4. Lift the appropriate amount of weight
Many beginners start off at the gym wanting to lift large amounts of weight. However, safety is a higher priority than your ability to lift an object. The gym is a long term commitment, so use of weights should be gradual over time. If using a 5kg weight is comfortable for you, exchanging this for a 10k weight is not a safe option.
5. Remember to breathe
Often during exercises, particularly weights at the gym, focusing on tensing your muscles can distract your focus from balancing your breath. In general you should inhale upon lifting an object and exhale when lowering it. Holding your breath can create sharp increases in blood pressure, increasing the risk of fainting or light-headedness. Likewise if you are too out of breath, take a rest to let your body catch up.
6. Ask for help when starting out at the gym
Using machines and equipment at the gym can be confusing and stressful. Trust us, we’ve all been there. Asking a professional inside or outside your gym will provide you with greater information on how to use equipment and reduce your risk of injury.