How to Get the Most Out of the Gym

There’s going to the gym, and there’s going to the gym. You may be a weekend warrior, or you may even be a four-or-five-time-a-week-er, but if you don’t go to the gym (the second half of my first sentence), there’s really no point. Here are the 4 ways to get the most out of the gym so you can actually get in shape and live a healthier, stronger life.

1. Set Attainable Goals

The first order of business before you even set foot in the gym is to set goals. These goals could range from weight loss or gain, running a certain distance, or lifting a certain amount of weight. One that I recommend to people who are starting out in the gym is to set a goal of just getting to the gym at least twice a week for an hour each time. This at least gets you in the gym, and twice a week allows you to go once on the weekend and once during the week. Easy peasy.

Setting attainable goals allows you to actually achieve them. Often times, people start working out for the first time and set out a goal to lose 20 pounds in a month or achieve 8% body fat in 2 months. Setting unrealistic goals will not motivate you. In fact, they will do the opposite. After working at it and not reaching your goal in time will be discouraging and likely lead toward quitting.  

Be realistic and keep yourself in check by setting viable goals for a month or two at a time at most so you can reach them quick, reflect, reevaluate, and set new goals to achieve.


2. Use a Progress Journal

You may be reluctant at first to adopt this, but if you are setting attainable goals, you’re going to want to do this.. Keeping a progress journal is crucial to success in the gym. This doesn’t mean using the Notes app on your phone.  I mean actually writing everything down using pen and paper. It doesn’t have to be neat – mine is a mess. But I’m the only one that needs to be able to read it and I can clearly see what I did and need to do. Also, take notes in your journal. So instead of just writing what weight you lifted or what speed your treadmill was on, if you feel like you could do more weight or a faster speed, write that down so that next time you’ll actually remember. This will help you to continue toward your goals and help you get stronger and healthier.

Keeping a journal and writing everything you do down helps you keep track of your progress so you know how to improve, what weight to choose, and overall, make you feel good that you are making positive steps towards achieving your goals.

3. Keep it Simple

This is one of the best pieces of advice I can give to anyone who is starting out in the gym, or anyone who is beginning to exercise at all. In order to get the most out of the gym, keep things simple. Make your exercises and workouts easy on paper but make killer efforts in the gym.

What I mean is that you shouldn’t set out to try things you’ve never done before in the hopes that you’ll get in shape quickly.. Stick with what you know, and learn over time.  In order to develop your skillset and knowledge of different movements and exercises, ask a trainer for help or do a lot of research yourself. Stepping into the gym and trying out something new or complicated before you really know what you’re doing will only lead to injury.

4. Make it Fun

The only way you’re going to get the most out of the gym, and exercising in general, is if it is fun. It is extremely important to enjoy what you are doing because if you dread every workout, you’ll never want to go. This is not synonymous with saying “make your workouts easy,” actually it is quite the opposite. Your workouts should be challenging and that is what makes it fun as over time, you’ll do the same workouts and you’ll feel them get easier and easier. Then it’s on to the next challenge!

Expecting to go to the gym and having it be easy will only lead to disappointment.  However, taking steps toward making your work outs more fun will motivate you to get to the gym more often and to work hard while you’re there. You can try things like going with a workout buddy, taking classes that your gym offers, or popping on your favorite tunes. There’s so much you can do as well as so many different ways to work out and have fun at the same time that there’s really little room for excuses. So get up and get out there – a healthier you is on the horizon!

About Ben Ilaria

Ben is a personal trainer and recent graduate of Fordham University. He loves everything health and fitness.  You can check out Ben’s fitness and lifestyle blog, Mind Matter Fitness, where he offers advice, motivation, and workout plans for free.