learning how to be a well-rounded athlete: part 1

Cross-training days have been going well, for the most part. My biggest problem: making them as effective as they can possibly be. That probably makes you ask, “well, then why are you bothering with the cross-training workouts if they’re not effective?” or “why are you slacking?”

My problem isn’t that I’m not trying to be effective or even that I am slacking. My problem is that I know for some of my cross training (weight lifting, muscle conditioning, and things of that nature) I simply do not know how to do it properly so I am not getting the most of out those workouts.

The solution to this problem seems obvious: learn how to do it the right way, and start being the most effective you possibly can. Duh!

Well, that seems simple enough, but let me ask you: when was the last time you were in the gym and it was easy to learn how to use the machines or how to lift weights properly? Unless you are a female and there is a man who is good looking and looks like he could support every single one of your purse and shoe buying habits (and looks like he would be nice enough to interrupt his workout to help you), you are most likely not going to ask some other random person to help you. Ok, and let’s be honest…even if you are female and that guy is there, you are still probably not going to ask him for help either. My point is: it is not the easiest thing in the world to learn how to properly do exercises.

I want to learn how to do things the right way, and have them be effective as well. So, lucky for me…I have a few personal training sessions coming up and my personal trainer knows that this where I really want to work the hardest and learn the most. I have one person dedicated to me, during the time I spend with him, to teaching me how to do these things. Now, I know that most people are not going to run out and get a personal trainer (in fact, I will be completely honest and let you know that I would not be working with one if the first couple sessions were not free). I’m not saying you should either, or that you even need to. However, this has made me think about all of the times I have talked with people who mention the same thing I have mentioned: “I don’t really use the machines or lift  weights, or anything like that because I don’t really know how and I don’t know who to ask; but, I wish I knew because I feel like that would be good for me.”

That being said, there have got to be ways to learn how to use machines other than hiring a personal trainer, right? Can’t think of what these “ways” might be? Let me help…let’s think about it:

1.) Grab a friend just as clueless as you are. If you guys head to the gym together, you can have a partner in crime to figure out the machines right along with you. No worries about feeling dumb, because you’re with someone else and having fun figuring everything out together.

2.) Grab a friend who is in the know. You always try to figure out how that one friend of yours stays in such good shape. He/she always talks about going to the gym. You know they do some lifting, do some circuit training, and know how to do it the right way, so why not ask them to go join you in the gym for a day or two, or even more? You guys could end up training together even after that, who knows? Or, at the very least it will be time you get to spend with your friend while getting in shape, too–kill two birds with one stone!

3.) Ask a trainer, other gym employee, or someone using the machine. Did we forget why most people work at their place of employment? Most people apply to places they are interested in, doing something they enjoy at least a bit and are knowledgeable about. That goes for gym employees and trainers too! Take a step outside of your comfort zone and ask a trainer or other gym employee if they have a second to show you how to use a machine or two that you are curious about. Chances are they will be more than happy to help. If they are busy, they will probably refer  you to another person who is not busy at the moment or will offer to help you as soon as they can.

Another option here is to ask someone who is using the machine you want to use. Does the person using it look pretty friendly, like they might not mind taking a minute or two from their workout to help you out? When they are resting (obviously not in the middle of their hard work) ask if they would mind showing you how to use the machine, and if you might be able to watch their next set of reps so you can see how it is done properly. More often than not, the person will actually take it is a compliment that you are asking them for help.

4.) Go late. Belong to a 24-hour gym? Or, one that is open pretty late? Usually the crowds start to wane off around 9pm during the week. After that, the number of the people working out is minimal, which means you have less people looking at you (which people probably aren’t anyway, even when there are a lot more people there). You have a nearly empty facility to figure things out on your own, read the direction on the machine, and get a solid workout in! Before you know it, you won’t be afraid to head to the gym any time of day, busy or not, because you’ll feel confident and comfortable getting in just the workout that you want to.

Hopefully this helps, and you can start achieving even more of your goals at the gym! Now, get out there and get it done 🙂


1 Comment

Filed under Marathon Training

One response to “learning how to be a well-rounded athlete: part 1

  1. amy

    Another suggestion, if possible for your gym: sign up for a group fitness class that involves circuit training or something with free weights/med balls/resistence bands. You’ll learn some great exercises AND have an instructor making sure you’re doing it right.

    AND a class will also help you stay accountable for strength training.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s