The most important thing you do at the gym has nothing to do with cardio.
Shocking, right? But isn't cardio the best workout ever and, like, the best way to burn massive amounts of calories?
OK, yeah, sure, there's a time and place in your workout for cardio, but it's not all the time every time you hit up the gym.
Outside of the negative effects it has on any muscle mass you have, if all you ever do is use cardio machines, aren't you just paying a monthly fee to do what you could be doing outside?
The truth is, the best thing for you to do in the gym comes in two pieces that are nowhere near as complicated as you'd expect.
1. Add variety to your workout routine.
Stop spending 45 minutes on the treadmill three times a week. It gets boring and you eventually lose any sense of challenge or accomplishment in your workout because you are doing the same thing over and over again.
If weights aren't your style (we'll get to this later), most gyms offer a variety of fitness classes to help you shake up your routine and challenge new muscle groups.
I'm sorry, but you just can't get the same effects from the elliptical as you do from an hour of pilates. And if you're worried about aggravating any past injuries, instructors typically call out how to modify moves based on injury factors.
Yes, you might feeling like crying the first time you go because it's a new challenge, and you may feel the same way the second time you show up, but fitness is about working up to a better you. There's no reason not to try new things.
2. Recognize who this is really about.
You. Oh yeah, you're happy to hear that aren't you? It really IS all about you, OK? This means if your excuse for not lifting weights is because you are embarrassed someone else is curling twice the amount you know you can handle you have to sort of... shut up and do it anyway?
No, I am not being rude. When you go the gym you are there to make you better, not to focus on how much weight someone else can lift.
I have been there. I started lifting tiny, tiny amounts of weight and I remember thinking, “What is the point of this... This is the amount people lift in physical therapy after massive surgery to build their strength back up."
But guess what? That's fine. I stuck with it and graduated to more weight and built my strength and muscle along the way.
I do not care if you have to start out at the lightest weight available on every machine and on every rack of free weights. The only way you ever get better at anything is to find out where you stand and where you want to go from there and do it.
You have to lift the small weight because you can't lift the big one yet. You build up and grow your fitness abilities through accepting your fitness journey is yours and any step you take forward and any progress you make is something to be proud of.
If you want to go from “lol what even is a push-up?” to “I can do more push-ups than you” you have to start struggling through one, two, then three, and eventually cranking them out.
The most important thing you can do at the gym is get in touch with yourself. Get in touch with your abilities and the abilities you want.
The best thing about working out ( and life in general) is if you seize your opportunities and push yourself you can achieve whatever you want.
You want to squat your weight? You can get there. You want to plank for two minutes straight? You can get there. You want to do pull-ups like it's nothing? You can get there.
Accept where you're starting from and Do. Not. Stop. Until you reach your goals. Forget everyone else. Focus on you because you deserve to be in the shape you want and to feel the satisfaction of meaningful workouts.