New year, new challenges. It’s time to kit up and lay the groundwork to make 2019 your best year yet.
Whether you’re making a triumphant return after the Christmas break or you’re a complete newbie, here’s everything you need to know when you hit the gym.
Eyes on the prize
If you don’t have a goal other than non-specific ‘getting fit,’ it’s easy to fall off the wagon.
We all know Rome wasn’t built in a day, so concentrate on short-term, realistic milestones. It could be as simple as being able to run for five minutes without stopping. Once that's ticked off, can you go for ten? With resistance training, work on technique before you increase your weight or speed to minimize the risk of injury.
Signing up to an event like a running race or sportive later in the year gives you a longer-term goal to work towards. Plan your gym sessions to support your goal – an instructor should be able to help you come up with a plan.
Invest in a decent fitness watch to keep you in line. For example, the Polar Vantage M allows you to plan your workouts and track your progress. If you’re going through a low-point, being able to look back and see how far you’ve come can give you a real boost.
Nobody cares what you look like
Unless you’re hogging a machine somebody else wants or dropping the weights (guaranteed to get a few glares), it’s unlikely anybody is really going to pay you much attention. Why? Well, sorry to break it to you but their own training is probably more important to them than what you look like.
However, purpose-made gym kit can boost your confidence. Investing in a new outfit is a real statement of intent.
Modern sports fabrics wick sweat away from the skin so they don’t end up feeling clingy like a cotton t-shirt. The Under Armour HeatGear Long Sleeved Compression Top is a perfect choice to keep you cool and comfortable. Strategically placed mesh panels keep you cool and the HeatGear technology wicks moisture away. The construction is designed to support your muscles, reduce the risk of injury and accelerate recovery.
Decent gym kit is also created with movement in mind. Waistbands are often higher on tights and fabric coverage is considered so that you can squat with confidence. 2XU MCS Compression Tights feature a drawstring waist for a secure fit and have the added benefit of anatomically mapped muscle support for greater performance and recovery.
If you run, you’ll already know how important the correct footwear is. However, many of us won’t put nearly as much thought into gym shoes. If you’re serious about training without setbacks from injury or discomfort, your shoes are worth some consideration.
If you wear shoes that were designed for running, they’re likely to have a higher heel-drop and added cushioning to protect your joints from the repeated impact as you pound the pavement. Your foot is supported for forward, heel-toe motion. In the short-term, they might feel comfortable but could hinder your performance and even cause injury in the long-term.
Instead of cushioning, gym-specific shoes will have a very flat, thin and flexible sole. This allows you to land properly if you’re doing any plyometric jumps and it gives you a stable base to lift, push off and pivot. They’re designed for multi-directional movement rather than simply forwards so they’re more versatile for a range of gym-based activity. The Reebok Nano 8 is a popular choice and has the advantage of a breathable Nanoweave upper so your feet will stay cool.
Be your best supporter
For women, the right sports bra is as valuable as the right trainers. At any size, breasts can bounce up to 14cm during exercise. This puts a strain on ligaments, causing them to stretch. The damage can never be repaired.
Shock Absorber works closely with the University of Portsmouth to ensure that their sports bras will provide adequate support for a comprehensive range of activity. A Shock Absorber bra can reduce breast bounce by up to 78%. That’s up to twice as much as a conventional bra.
The importance of the correct nutrition cannot be overstated. Running on empty will impact your performance and increase recovery time so make sure you fuel smart.
Carbohydrates might have a bit of a bad reputation, especially in the context of weight loss, but they’re really important. Your body uses carbohydrates as essential fuel but if it doesn’t have enough, it will start converting your muscles back into energy instead. HIGH5 Energy Bars are a great gym snack because they contain a proven balance of simple and complex carbohydrates for both fast and sustained energy.
Make sure you’re getting enough protein too. When you’re working out, you’ll be putting strain on your muscles which causes micro-tears in the muscle tissue. Your body needs protein to repair those tears, creating bigger, stronger muscles as you progress. If you’re just starting out at the gym, we think the Bio-Synergy Gym Starter Pack is perfect. You get a full-size tub of their delicious Whey-Hey protein, as well as a shaker, the energy-boosting BCAA 2.1.1 capsules and Creatine Plus capsules to further boost recovery.
You’ll love that post-workout glow that you get from a good session at the gym, but the ‘sweaty’ look is definitely not great if you’re heading straight to work or the shops. Make sure you pack the right products to walk out feeling (and smelling) fresh.
We’re big fans of the Lab Series Pro Ls All-In-One Shower Gel200ml. The luxuriously rich texture cleans and refreshes your body, face and hair so you’ll be in and out of the showers in no time.
Get ready to do it all again
Don’t underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep. If you’ve stepped up your activity, you’ll need to give your body more time to rest as most of the maintenance and rebuilding work happens while you sleep.
You can help your body to recover with compression clothing which is designed to increase blood flow and reduce swelling and soreness associated with muscle damage and fatigue. Stretching will relax the muscles and you can use a roller if you need a deep massage. The Trigger Point Grid has a unique design with ‘Distrodensity’ for a more realistic massage experience. You can even incorporate it into your workout routine.