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New to the gym? Here’s expert advice to make your workout smoother, effective

There’s a lot to know before you start sweating it out at the gym. From the right kind of food to your training schedule — here’s help at hand.

fitness Updated: Jul 26, 2017 12:27 IST
Prerna Gauba
Prerna Gauba
Hindustan Times
A few easy tips can help you ace your gym game.
A few easy tips can help you ace your gym game.(iStockphoto)


Gyms can be intimidating for first timers. The unknown machines, unsaid rules and your anxiety to lose the extra kilos can leave you perplexed. Fret not! We list a few things to keep in mind to help you move in the right direction.

When to eat:
Consume a mix of carbs and protein two to three hours before the workout session. Have oats, whey protein, a bowl of nuts or fruits. “Protein will help in building muscle whereas carbohydrates will generate energy for exercise,” says nutritionist Manisha Mehta. Eat a banana an hour before your workout, or drink a glass of coconut water if eating pre-workout makes you uncomfortable. Stay hydrated throughout your workout, as it catalyses the weight loss. However eating within 15 mintues to one hour after the workout is crucial. “Eat within 30 minutes of workout for proper recovery. Aim for 15-20gm protein, from either an egg and a glass of milk or a cup of boiled chana with a bowl of yoghurt,” says nutritionist Lovneet Batra. Begin by eating a fruit to recover instant energy, followed by protein.

Best time and workout:
This depends on your capacity and the zeal to lose weight. However, when you start, make sure your heart rate is high and don’t let it dip. “The heart should beat faster than normal to get the desired results,” says Mehta. Nutritionist Batra adds that a 45- to 60-minute cardio daily, and strength training — 2-3 times a week — is good for beginners. Fitness expert Ashish Gupta, however, advises that first-timers should avoid excess workout initially. “Follow what the trainer tells you. Excess might cause cramps and muscle pulls,” he says.

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The right footwear:
We often forget the basics. The right shoes are important. “One must wear comfortable and well-fitted shoes — not big, not small. They should be able to withhold the impact from your workout,” says Mehta. If you’re jogging or running too much, then, special running shoes must be worn, as they would absorb the jerks better. Casual sneakers or oxfords are definitely not the right pick. Last but not the least, wear cotton socks as they help absorb the sweat so that your feet are not slippery, and helps prevent the shoes from bad odour.

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Balancing workout and diet:
Exercising five days a week with a good amount of rest for the body to recover is best. “Alternate days of cardio, weights and strength training. Strength training helps increase the stamina of the body and keeps the heart healthy,” says Mehta. However, balancing your workout with the right diet is equally important. “It’s not about starving your body for more weight loss, but fuelling it well to prepare for good workout intensity,” says Batra.

Know your body:
It is important to understand your body well, and know its health before hitting the gym. “Get your BMI (Body Mass Index) checked and go for a blood test because exercise and diet alterations must only be made keeping that in mind,” says Gupta. It is also important to know your body’s water retention and fat percentage to plan the workouts better.

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