Yet Another Cycling Forum

General Category => The Knowledge => Health & Fitness => Topic started by: peliroja on November 30, 2010, 06:45:27 pm

Title: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: peliroja on November 30, 2010, 06:45:27 pm
I now have access to a gym (unstaffed) on a regular basis and would like to start using it in a less-than-half-hearted way. I've never really used a gym before and don't want to throw myself at the machines and do myself a damage. There are steppers, bikes, treadmills, weights and mats.

Any tips for a newbie on how to use a gym safely (and keep oneself entertained while doing so)? I wouldn't want to do more than 40 minutes in there, max. Thank you!  :)
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: mattc on November 30, 2010, 07:00:45 pm
There are steppers, bikes, treadmills, weights and mats.

I suspect it's very difficult to cause injury with the first 3; just apply your "cycling brain" - warm up, build up speed/effort gently, pace yourself.
No rowing machine? unusual. If they have one it's worth finding a rower to show you the basic technique, as I suspect one could do some damage with those.

I only do very conservative weight work, so wouldn't dare give any advice. Plenty of more knowledgable people on here  :thumbsup:

[A general strategy i used was:
- 5-10mins warmup on rower/treadmill/etc
- do some weights
- do flat-out aerobic stuff on rower/treadmill/etc
- warmdown on above
- if time, stretch!
]
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: andygates on November 30, 2010, 07:04:31 pm
Sounds like you've got the kit you need.  What is your goal?

(the "throw yourself halfheartedly" mis-approach usually comes from an absent or vague goal)
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: David Martin on November 30, 2010, 07:06:48 pm
Got a spinning bike there? Here is a quick tutorial for a basic routine.


    YouTube
        - Spin Bike prove
   (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rx9SIyFMfcY&feature=player_embedded)
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: Jaded on November 30, 2010, 07:19:10 pm
Remember to look in the mirror a lot.


That's what I see people doing all the time at the gym.
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: redshift on November 30, 2010, 07:22:13 pm
I use the work gym sometimes.  I cycle most days, so that's about 80-100 miles a week depending on shifts.  Anything I ride at a weekend is on top of that, but is variable.  In the gym I:

1. Warm up in a way that I don't normally exercise, e.g. one of those Nordic elliptical jobbies.  I have a lower back injury that is a bugger to manage sometimes, and shifts have kept me away from Aikido for a long time now.  Elliptical warms up without impact, treadmill doesn't.  I have to be fitter than I am now to run any distance without my back going twang.

2.  I usually do a bit of flexibility stretching - nothing pushy, just trying to maintain range of motion with age.  I found two weeks of kayaking two hours a day did more than the last 6 months of trying to remember to stretch.  Moral: The Real WorldTM does it better.

3.  Aerobic rowing - middling settings on the resistance (it's a Concept 2 machine) and do 2500 or 5000m at about 30 strokes/min depending upon how much time I have to spare.  This helps the back.

4.  Multigym weights, fairly light, to keep upper back, shoulders etc. in reasonable fettle.

Goal:  To use it or lose it.  It's easy to decline once you're into your 40's.  All you have to do is let it happen...
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: CrinklyLion on November 30, 2010, 07:30:26 pm
I hated the bikes - why would I want to use one of those when I could just go for a ride?  I didn't particularly enjoy walking on the treadmill (I don't DO running - there's only so much M&S can do for a girl!) given that at the time I was using the gym a lot I was also walking between an hour and 4 hours shoving a buggy most days.  The cross-trainer caused extreme hot-foot pain after 3 minutes the first time I tried.  The stepper was the invention of the devil and after less than 2 minutes I had to stop and put my lungs back in.  And the weights area was full of intimidating body-builder types.

I ended up going 5 days a week, for anything up to 2 hours at a time  ;D

Is there any chance you can get someone properly qualified to do an introductory session, either at that gym or somewhere else nearby?  Our council gym does a 'how to use the kit and here's a programme to get you started' session for £18.50 for PAYG punters (or for free if you sign up) but that's probably northern prices!  I found a bit of advice about technique very very useful, and the programme was a very useful starting point.

I found targets useful - "I will convince the machinery that I've burnt 2000 cals" which is surprisingly easy when you start off very overweight on machines that consider that info when they calculate energy usage, working up to 5, then 10, and eventually 45 minutes on the cross-trainer and then the same on the invention of the devil stepper.  Intervals worked well to give it a structure when it stopped being a challenge just to stay on the machines for any length of time.  And I ended up scaring the muscle-bound narcissists out of the weight area, because free weights are fun.

I miss the gym :(
 
I now have access to a gym (unstaffed) on a regular basis and would like to start using it in a less-than-half-hearted way. I've never really used a gym before and don't want to throw myself at the machines and do myself a damage. There are steppers, bikes, treadmills, weights and mats.

Any tips for a newbie on how to use a gym safely (and keep oneself entertained while doing so)? I wouldn't want to do more than 40 minutes in there, max. Thank you!  :)
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: peliroja on November 30, 2010, 07:37:58 pm
Sounds like you've got the kit you need.  What is your goal?

Goals: 1. to take some time out at lunchtime from working too hard (the gym is right next to my desk), 2. release a few endorphins to keep me going through the rest of the day and 3. maintain some base fitness during the winter.

Thanks for the replies so far! One more question: how does one 'do weights'? 
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: Jakob on November 30, 2010, 07:56:55 pm

Thanks for the replies so far! One more question: how does one 'do weights'? 

You shouldn't really do weights unsupervised and you can do a perfectly good workout using bodyweight alone, especially if you got a pull-up bar.

Toes-to-bar:

    YouTube
        - Movement Demo-Toes to Bar
   (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dR94bQAoMhs)
Knees-to-elbow:

    YouTube
      - Broadcast Yourself.
   (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqOgtFcqWbE)
Burpees:

    YouTube
        - CrossFit Burpee Demo
   (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21dvQyNiTjM)
You can add some light weights to Turkish Get-ups relatively safely:

    YouTube
        - Turkish Get Up
   (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vhJza-2xiI)
Get a skipping rope and add some double-unders:

    YouTube
      - Broadcast Yourself.
   (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TfjmxeUsIs)
Etc..

I think the key is to break it down into sets (similar to what we do at Crossfit):

Example:
5 push-ups (from the knees if needed)
10 knees-to-elbow (or as high as you can get your knees)
15 air-squats
20 double-unders.

Then do as many rounds as possible within a given time frame (max 20 minutes).
(And trust me, 20 mins is more than enough).

Combine that with a light warm-up beforehand and a stretching session afterwards and you can be in & out in 40 minutes and you will get a huge improvement in base fitness if you do something like this 2-3 times a week.

Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: Kim on November 30, 2010, 10:01:11 pm
Is it me, or has everyone missed the most important aspect of using a gym?

Step 0: You're supposed to drive there.   ;D
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: peliroja on November 30, 2010, 10:15:58 pm
Oh dear. I cycle there.

So there is also the problem of what to wear. I can't, quite frankly, get changed out of wet cycling gear, into work gear, only to change into dry gym gear, then back into work gear, then into soggy cycling gear to ride home (and then into lounge-about gear).

Help!
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: saturn on November 30, 2010, 10:33:17 pm
I only go in the gym to kill time while my daughter's in the pool so have no specific objectives - but I quite enjoy it, despite having never fancied gyms until I gave it try. 1.5 hours flies by and I have to keep an eye on the time. I do 15-20mins warm up on bike; circuit of most of the weights m/cs 3 sets of 15-25 each nothing heavy though; 10 mins row; some more weights, maybe 10mins on cross trainer or rarely treadmill (hate them); another 15-20 mins on the bike building up to an all out effort for the last 5 minutes; finish with some stretches.
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: redshift on November 30, 2010, 10:33:39 pm
Thanks for the replies so far! One more question: how does one 'do weights'? 

'Do?'

Weights require repetitive operation - the muscles adapt in response to repetitive stress, so you alternately stress the muscle and then let it recover.  The amount of weight is entirely personal, and directly related to your current muscularity, along with your intent.  Was it Andy Gates who had a sig that went "Remember, somebody somewhere warms up using your 1 rep max...?"

So weights involves cycles of stress, relax, stress, relax. Usually, a series of a certain number of operations of the muscle, followed by a short recovery period, all repeated a number of times.  This is what's known as 'repetition' or 'rep.'
An example might be a cycle of 3 sets of 10 - i.e. ten operations of the weight (machine or free weight), then a short recovery period, say a minute or so, and then another set the same, and finally a third set.

The weights used, the number of repeats and whether you increase the weights between sets will all depend on what your goal is.

I would recommend that you find someone who knows what they're doing to give you a starter session.  You can easily injure yourself with poor lifting technique, and as Jakob said, free weights should really be with someone else around to act as a spotter.
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: geraldc on November 30, 2010, 10:37:05 pm
Remember to spray and wipe down equipment after you've used it. No one wants scrum pox.
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: simonp on November 30, 2010, 11:14:29 pm
Remember to look in the mirror a lot.


That's what I see people doing all the time at the gym.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to look good naked. I still need a paper bag though so I can't see what it looks like!
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: peliroja on December 01, 2010, 03:06:40 pm
I just spent five minutes on an very easy setting on the exercise bike in my work clothes and feel soooo much better for it! I think I'll do this regularly!
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: mark on December 01, 2010, 03:11:19 pm
As a number of people have said, some kind of introductory session with a trainer or knowledgeable person can be very helpful, especially if you want to get into a weight lifting routine. Stationary bikes and steppers are fairly self-explanatory, but it helps to have someone with a little knowledge devise a routine for you and give you some pointers before you start doing free weights.

Like Jakob said, you can do a lot with just body weight, you don't necessarily need elaborate machines.
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: Flying_Monkey on December 01, 2010, 03:36:23 pm
How to use a gym?

Change.

Laugh at people in gym as you go outside.

Go out for a 40 minute run or cycle - do intervals, whatever.

Laugh at people in gym as you return.

Use their showers.

Change.
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: andygates on December 01, 2010, 04:14:30 pm
Monkey, that's as useful as the "How to do this in Windows?" posts that are answered with "Buy a Mac" or "Get Linux", you know.   ::-)


There are some actions that use lots of muscles, and some that use a few.  The ones that use lots are great time-savers, with the squat or lunge, and the benchpress, being good ones to include in a general list. 

http://www.exrx.net/Lists/Directory.html is an epic and bafflingly long list of exercises (a useful reference, if nothing else!). 
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: Flying_Monkey on December 01, 2010, 04:40:05 pm
Monkey, that's as useful as the "How to do this in Windows?" posts that are answered with "Buy a Mac" or "Get Linux", you know.   ::-)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8KisK2zBWE (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8KisK2zBWE)

is funny, no?  ;)
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: CrinklyLion on December 01, 2010, 05:55:25 pm
Stationary bikes and steppers are fairly self-explanatory

Actually, that reminds me!  I was given Very_Stern_Warnings about the stepper, and how poor technique is not good for various joints.  Can't remember what I wasn't s'posed to do though because it was ages ago.  Sorry, that isn't very helpful....
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: Jaded on December 01, 2010, 06:01:58 pm
Monkey, that's as useful as the "How to do this in Windows?" posts that are answered with "Buy a Mac" or "Get Linux", you know.   ::-)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8KisK2zBWE (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8KisK2zBWE)

is funny, no?  ;)

Depends where you are trying to view it from.
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: peliroja on December 01, 2010, 06:35:00 pm
On the steppers, are you supposed to keep your feet flat on the 'pedals' or is it OK to go up onto the balls of your feet?
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: Flying_Monkey on December 01, 2010, 06:35:09 pm
Depends where you are trying to view it from.

Was just Father Jack saying 'I'm so, so, so sorry' incredibly sarcastically for being funny. Indirect way of saying 'it was a small joke'. Not funny when explained.
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: Jaded on December 01, 2010, 06:38:47 pm
Ah. That's why Channel 4 have banned it here.  :)
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: peliroja on December 01, 2010, 07:03:29 pm
On the steppers, are you supposed to keep your feet flat on the 'pedals' or is it OK to go up onto the balls of your feet?
Bump - anyone know?
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: rafletcher on December 01, 2010, 07:05:40 pm
Sure you can go up on the balls of yr feet - loads the calf muscles more. Thing to be aware of is to stand up as straight as possible, don't lean forward. 
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: peliroja on December 01, 2010, 09:00:33 pm
Thanks! I might give it a go tomorrow.
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: Tigerrr on December 02, 2010, 05:46:49 pm
Some of the comments upthread are a bit unhelpful so I will lay out the basics:

Go to Sweaty Betty and get some serious foxy lycra kit and some tasty trainers.  Accessorise with head and wrist bands plus legwarmers.
Hairties are in - decide on croydon facelift or essex fountain.
Invest in decent Ipod and earphones, plus hot chunes on 120bpm.
Remove all body hair and fix bikini line - exfoliate and buff.
Spraytan essential
Invest in decent towel unless gym is quality with towels supplied
Ensure undergarments are AOK for changing room banter - no old skivvies in grey.

Once the basics are in place you are ready to do the gym.

Before actually using kit spray down with water to give overall shine and sweaty look, pinch cheeks for glow.

Machines are for beginners - free weights are where the serious guys and girls hang so go there. 

 
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: peliroja on December 22, 2010, 10:24:28 pm
I've started using the gym in earnest. I don't really have a plan, I just do a bit on each machine until knackered. I think I need to be more structured. I'll take a proper look upthread for ideas.  :thumbsup:
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: Feline on December 22, 2010, 10:29:16 pm
On the steppers, are you supposed to keep your feet flat on the 'pedals' or is it OK to go up onto the balls of your feet?
Bump - anyone know?

I seem to remember during my gym induction (about 6 years ago) being told to use flat feet, because it gives your behind a good workout which is part of the point of the stepper as opposed to the cross trainer.

I gave up using the gym when people started to stare at me when I wheezed and stopped to use my inhaler while using the equipment. I am considering going to spinning classes though because I need to work on my speed and CV fitness ready for longer rides this summer :)
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: andygates on December 23, 2010, 03:44:33 pm
Puff first, it's good for the whole session.  :thumbsup:
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: peliroja on December 23, 2010, 09:19:52 pm
I am such a weakling in my arms that I can only do 4-5 repetitions on the very easiest setting on the weight machine.  :-[ I am scared of hurting my neck and back. Should I just steer clear of it, or do some easier weights before trying it again?
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: andygates on December 23, 2010, 09:29:46 pm
Which exercise is it?
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: Feline on December 23, 2010, 10:13:19 pm
I am such a weakling in my arms that I can only do 4-5 repetitions on the very easiest setting on the weight machine.  :-[ I am scared of hurting my neck and back. Should I just steer clear of it, or do some easier weights before trying it again?

I am also a weakling! I was told that since the aim of weights for most females isn't really to get huge bulging muscles it is better to do lots of reps at a low weight you can manage easily and gradually increase it every couple of weeks. As if by magic I gradually increased what I could lift, all without any pain.
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: Manotea on December 23, 2010, 10:40:31 pm
Feline has it right. Start low and work up. As a rule of thumb after a (very) long layoff I find it takes ~ 4 weeks to get used to a movement and another 4~8 weeks for the body to start adapting to the strain of handling weights then about 6 six months to get to the point where you can really feel muscles working. Somewhere around 9 months things start to plateau out and you move onto a six times a week split program (ref: Gunners program) and that's where things start getting interesting...
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: DaveJ on December 23, 2010, 11:37:01 pm
I am considering going to spinning classes though because I need to work on my speed and CV fitness ready for longer rides this summer :)

I do a couple of spin classes each week and they are great.  Its not the same as being out on the bike, but its not a bad substitute especially when there is ice on the ground.  A lot does depend on the instructor and the other participants.  A good group motivates each other and you can work MUCH harder on the spin bike than you can on a real one.

Give it a go.

Dave
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: andygates on December 24, 2010, 07:19:08 am
Spin classes aren't going to work arms though :)

Generally in gyms, the "mats and balls" room (or area) has some smaller lighter dumbbells than in the grunt pit.  If you head in there, it's a much less macho environment and you should be able to find a weight that's right.  Then replicate the movement with your dumbbell instead of on the machine.
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: Euan Uzami on December 24, 2010, 12:36:47 pm
I was wondering what exercises or machines there are for lower back strength, my brother said lift some free weights "like health and safety people tell you not to", but i'm sceptical about doing that cos while it might have the desired effect i don't want to risk getting a slipped disk.
Any ideas?
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: andygates on December 24, 2010, 01:23:30 pm
Deadlift, stiff-leg deadlift, good-morning, and secondarily on things like bent-over row.  Links with animations:

Barbell Deadlift (http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/ErectorSpinae/BBDeadlift.html)
Barbell Stiff Leg Deadlift (http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/ErectorSpinae/BBStiffLegDeadlift.html)
Barbell Bent Knee Good-morning (http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/ErectorSpinae/BBBentKneeGoodMorning.html)

(http://1.bp.blogspot.com/__2z3YUOwSOo/RhFrFqaDvKI/AAAAAAAAAYw/2En0ZAIJE6Q/s400/20070326_PENDLETON_VICTORIA_01.jpg)

Good morning is one people don't do much, and it's great.  Get some weight on your shoulders (normally by taking a barbell, as you would for a squat).  Your back should be "set" - abs in, shoulders back, proper like.  Now bow from the hips, as if you were a butler formally bowing to your master (I always say "Good morning, Master Bruce" with each rep because I am (1) a colossal nerd and (2) it keeps the rep nice and slow; YMMV but it's not one to rush).  Start this exercise light because if you're back's wrong you want to feel "uh-oh" not "ARGH" -- an empty bar for you virgin set.

Good mornings are pretty lower-back specific.  

Stiff-leg deadlift (like Vicky there) is probably the most all-round useful as you can get some really good bum and upper back work, traps, grip, all sorts, especially if you shrug the bar back at the top of each rep.  

Regular deadlift is able to handle lots of weight.  If on any of these you find your grip going, switch to an alternate grip.  One hand is knuckles-out, the other knuckles-in, and you'll find you can hold a fair bit more.  
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: Jasmine on December 24, 2010, 02:13:18 pm
Pretty much all free weight exercises will increase core and back strength because you are working to keep the positions rather than isolation exercises that machines give.

For cyclists, add the squat.  Squat is king. 

I would strongly recommend taking someone who knows what they are doing the first couple of times to point out where the important bits of technique are.  As Andy says, start everything with light weights.  Doing big weight with poor form can leave you in a lot of pain.  Even with lightish weight, you will feel the work with enough reps.  Remember to include the bar and clamp weights.  An olympic bar (the standard big ones like in Andy's picture) weighs 20 kg and big collars (to hold the weights on if necessary) weigh 2.5 kg each.  If you are new to weights, try any exercise with just the bar at first to get used to where it will sit.

For the ladies - any barbell exercise that involves putting the bar across the shoulders needs the bar lower than you think.  On muscular men, it will sit nicely on a slab of muscle of the shoulders.  On skinny men or women, the temptation is to rest the bar on the nape of the neck rather than the shoulders.

Don't be put off by the macho talk.  I find the people who know what they are doing are always helpful and encouraging and understand that if you are new/female that lower weight is inevitable.

One for Andy: have you tried the bear? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WOP9J7QPwI
 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WOP9J7QPwI)
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: andygates on December 24, 2010, 02:22:04 pm
Pretty much all free weight exercises will increase core and back strength because you are working to keep the positions rather than isolation exercises that machines give.

Very true, especially the standing-up ones.

One for Andy: have you tried the bear? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WOP9J7QPwI (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WOP9J7QPwI)
Yes, I have, and it's a brute!
Title: Re: 'How to use a gym' advice?
Post by: Euan Uzami on December 27, 2010, 12:42:02 am
good info, thanks.

edit: tried those deadlifts, they are good. felt a bit stiff in places I don't normally which is a sign it's working! esp. the inside of the very bottom of the hamstring.