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Beginner’s Guide to Gym Workouts: Essential Tips for First Timers

Gini Grimsley
Apr. 19, 2024 / VASA Admin
Beginner’s Guide to Gym Workouts: Essential Tips for First Timers

Starting a fitness journey can seem like a daunting task. What exercises should I do? How often should I go to the gym? How intense should my workouts be? How many burpees do I need to do? These are some common thoughts that might cross a new gym member’s mind as they walk into the gym for the first time.

Keep in mind there’s no right way to work out, there’s only what’s right for you. So, before you start comparing yourself to the guy or gal on the machine beside you, congratulate yourself for doing more than you were able to yesterday, last month, or last year.

Here are nine steps to make the most of your new workout routine.


Female athlete doing a medicine ball workout on turf


Step 1.  Set a Goal

Having a bigger reason for your gym visits will keep you coming back to the gym even when you don’t feel like it.  Your goals don’t have to be massive changes and can be more routine based, like getting more steps in every day, or lifting weights three times per week. Setting a goal helps you come up with a workout plan. How often you go to the gym and what you do once you get there are parts of the beginner workout plan. Keep in mind that you can always change and progress your plan as you reach your goals.

Step 2. Start Slow

Your new fitness journey shouldn’t interfere too much with your everyday life. What you do in the gym should enhance the things you already enjoy doing, like walking your dog or playing with your children. While it may not seem like much in the beginning, taking smaller steps towards your goals will lead to better consistency in your workout routine and ultimately greater results. You might want to start with an easy leg day or an easy arm workout and build on that as you get more comfortable in the gym.

Step 3. Warm Up and Cooldown

No matter what types of workouts you choose to do, each should start with a good warm-up and end with a cooldown. Warm-ups help get the blood flowing and prepare your body to work. Cooldowns help lower your heart rate and breathing so you can return to everyday life without being wound up from your workout.


A female athlete doing a kettlebell exercise with a personal trainer at VASA Fitness


Step 4. Learn Good Technique

One of the biggest mistake new gym-goers can make is doing too much with bad form. Take some time to learn how to brace your core and move safely before adding too much weight to your exercises or going too far with your running and jogging. Personal Trainers can be a great resource for learning how to move well in the gym.

Step 5. Cardio and Weights

Many new gym goers choose only cardio or weights, when really, they need both. Cardio improves overall stamina and helps with heart health while strength training improves muscle function and tone. Combining these two activities will get you the best results in the long run.

Step 6. Build in Rest and Recovery

Doing too much too soon when it comes to exercise is a recipe for injury. Give yourself some grace and take a day or two between workouts in the beginning until you get used to doing more. Over time, your body will adapt to the stresses of working out and become stronger, allowing you to do more. However, that is only if you give yourself time to recover between hard workouts. Listen to your body. If it feels tired and rundown, it probably is! Taking a day off and away from the gym will help you do your best when you’re ready to get back.

Step 7. Eat Well, Drink Water

Now that you’re taking care of your body, you need to fuel it, so it continues to perform for you inside and outside the gym. Eating plenty of protein and whole foods are a great way to get all the vitamins and minerals you need without too many extra calories. Eating a whole foods-based diet, and limiting how much pre-packaged food you consume, is one of the best ways to control weight and keep you from craving junk food. Just as importantly, drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated helps with performance. Be sure to drink at least half of your bodyweight in ounces of water every day, plus more on days you sweat a lot.


Male athlete putting weight onto a barbell for a female athlete at VASA Fitness


Step 8. Gym Etiquette

Put your weights back and wipe down the equipment with sanitizing wipes. This helps ensure the gym is ready for the next member to have an awesome workout, too. If you’re going to a group fitness class, be sure to show up a few minutes early, so you have time to find your spot and set up your equipment. Don’t forget a water bottle, lock (if you’re storing valuables at the gym), and a small sweat towel.

Step 9. Ask for Help

VASA Fitness has Personal Trainers on staff who are ready and willing to help you on your fitness journey. They can help you set up a gym schedule and training program that advances with you as you get stronger. If you’re not in Personal Training but still need assistance, Trainers can offer a spot, small pieces of advice, and answer any questions you have.

Coming to the gym shouldn’t be a scary endeavor. Progress takes time, and with consistency, you’ll become a gym regular in no time. The communities found in gyms are like no other; everyone is there for the same thing: to become better, stronger versions of themselves. You might even be amazed at how many new friends you’ll make throughout your fitness journey.