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How to Start Excercising


© Georgiy Pashin | Dreamstime.com

If your physical activity at the moment is limited to exercising your thumbs (laptop/Playstation/Xbox/Wii), this article is for you. It will outline some of the basic things you need to think about before hitting the gym with all your might.  

First of all, it is essential that you set very clear goals: what would you like to achieve?

  1)  What are you unhappy about (ex. weight, shape, proportions, etc.), and body parts would you like to work on 

  2) What health objectives do you have in mind (ex. increase or decrease blood pressure, improve cardio, etc.)

The workout schedule will heavily depend on the goals that you set for yourself.

Workout schedule

Cardio - endurance training that improves the cardiovascular system. Running has a big impact on the joints, so the YMCA trainers at the Montreal downtown location recommend sticking to biking or the elliptical. If your goal is weight loss, cardio is for you. However, cardio training is not capable of targeting specific body areas, so the trainers recommend combining it with weight training.

Weight (anaerobic) training - is geared towards targeted increas in muscle mass. If you want  to change your body proportions, weight training is for you--it is capable of increasing the missing muscle of some areas while decreasing the volume of other areas.

Interval (circut) training - this training style is based on varying the intensity of high and low impact training. Depending on your personal preference, those intervals can be measured by time, distance, or heart rate. Most often interval training is a blend of weights and cardio. The trainers at the Montreal YMCA recommend interval training for weight loss purposes. 

Pilates and Yoga - are not usually considered training, but are a great way to complement your gym workout by increasing flexibility as well as improving muscle tone and balance.

It is best to have a minimum of 5-10 individual workouts with a trainer in order to make sure you know your way around each machine and have a routine that suits both your health status and goals.


During the Workout

1) To make sure that you do not over-work it is necessary to be aware of your heart rate at all times. On average, the trainers recommend the maximal heartbeat to follow the formula:

220-(your age)

The aerobic zone, where the calories are burned most effectively, is at 60-90% of the maximal heart rate. You need to adjust the workout intensity to keep your heart rate in the aerobic zone. 

2) Do not forget to breathe regularly. Normally you should inhale when you are straining and exhale when relaxing.

3) If your goal is weight loss, make sure you actually need it. Take the time to calculate your BMI (body mass index). There are many ways to determine your BMI, but the simplest forula is:

BMI=(body weight in kilos)/(height in meters)squared

  • <15 is severely underweight
  • 15-20 is underweight
  • 20-25 is the norm
  • 25-30 is overweight with little to no health risks
  • 30-35 is mildly obese
  • 35-40 is moderately obese
  • >40 is morbidly obese

If you have an chance, take the firness test in your gym to find out the state your body is in and % body fat--it will be more accurate and informative then calculating your BMI. If you can not do it, make sure to try and keep track of your weight loss/muscle gain by measuring yourself (stomach, hip, knee, wrist, calf, and shoulder/arm).

And most importantly--enjoy the workouts and have fun with them! If you love them, they will love you back, delivering good results!

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