Maximize your Muscles: Finding Success at the Gym in the New Year


2020 is here. It’s a new year, and with every new year comes new resolutions that target improving your health. Fitness facilities in particular brace for the January rush, where new members come in with high hopes of dropping holiday weight and gearing up for summer. So, how can you be the most successful in the gym? We’ve got some tips.

Set Attainable Goals

It’s easy to run into a gym or other fitness facility fired up in January and burn out by February. So set attainable goals you can maintain throughout the year. “Many of the people I see are ready to start the new year off with health and sustainability,” says Michael Muldoon MS, PT, Rehabilitation Site Manager for the Center for Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine at Beverly Hospital. “A lot of them are ready to jump in feet first and sometimes they jump in too intensely.” 

So where is the fine line? “I’d rather they exercise for five minutes seven days a week than exercise an hour several days a week. You have to start small,” encourages Muldoon. Plus, if you are relatively new to working out, get your body accustomed to new movements and challenges to prevent injury. “Your muscles will do an okay job adapting but the ligaments and tendons won’t and that can cause problems.” 

Find a Workout That Fits Your Personality

Are you outgoing? Hop into a Zumba® class or other dance format. Are you a dominant personality who is results oriented? Try a competitive workout where AMRAP (as many reps as possible) is a focal point. Different personality types gravitate towards exercises and that combination can achieve the most effective results. 

Keep the Party Going—Avoid Injury

What’s worse than setting yourself up with lofty fitness goals only to get hurt and press the pause button on all your progress? 

“The key is making sure they do exercises that don’t hurt them,” says Muldoon. This is especially critical for those coming back from injury. “For example, if you’re a runner but the treadmill hurts, we have to find an exercise (like the stationary bike) that will keep you engaged in that activity but won’t cause further pain.”

And don’t let your workout gear be the culprit behind injury. This means investing in your activewear as much as your body. A poor fitting sneaker or shoe that isn’t appropriate for a specific workout could lead to a variety of physical issues, ranging from plantar fasciitis to stress fractures. “Think about your sneakers, even your clothes, like a car. What would you do if someone sold you bald tires? You wouldn’t want those. View this as the same thing. Shop for the best deal and for the best quality,” urges Muldoon. 

If you experience prolonged pain, be sure to cease your workout and visit a medical professional so you can identify your issue properly. 

Stay Germ Free

There’s a member at the gym you can’t see, and they’re there everyday hogging up the equipment: germs. Multiple studies have shown that gyms are a hotbed for bacteria and infectious disease, so do yourself a favor: wipe down your equipment!

“Clean in and clean out,” says Muldoon. “Clean equipment before you use it. Don’t assume someone cleaned it prior to you getting there, and be kind to the next person—wipe it down when you’re done.”

Still worried about consistency? Incentivize and de-incentivize yourself. “Create a pact with yourself,” suggests Muldoon. You can treat yourself to something next month when you stay consistent this month. Muldoon also suggests altruistic discipline when you don’t meet your goals. “If you don’t go to the gym, donate that money to a charitable organization. At least if money comes out of your pocket, do something good with it.”

For more information on how to make the most of your workout in 2020, speak with your health care provider.

*The content on this website is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Please consult a physician regarding your specific medical condition, diagnosis and/or treatment.

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