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Not sure what to do at the gym?Updated a year ago

I still remember it as if it happened yesterday...

The first day I ever stepped foot in a gym.

To me, it was intimidating.

Up until this point in my life, I had never touched a weight, much less performed any exercise with weights for that matter.

It seemed like everybody walking around, with the exception of me, was a veteran in their fitness journey.

That, amongst several other things, left me scared, confused, and embarrassed all at the same time.

I'm not kidding when I say this ... I had no clue what to do to get started!

But, I wanted to make the commitment to myself before committing to anything else, including any sort of personal trainer or fitness coach.

So, when it came time to start pursuing my fitness goals and earning results, it became very clear to me that I had a lot to learn.

This is something, I think, that most people who are just getting started with their fitness journey really struggle with.

This could be another reason why some people never end up reaching their fitness goals, or even staying committed to them for longer than a week or two.

I wanted to write this article for those of you who are just getting started at the gym.

...regardless of whether you're somebody who works out already ... or not!

Maybe you're a runner, and you're looking to get into weight training.

Maybe you're new to fitness as a whole, and you don't know where to start when it comes to the gym.

Either way, I'm here to give you some direction and tips … so you're confident and well-equipped next time, and any time, you step foot in a gym!


Before we really dive into what you can do for workouts at the gym, I want you to consider this…

What is your goal?

Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to gain weight? Do you want to burn fat? Do you want to build muscle? Do you want to be healthier overall? Do you want to improve your performance?

One of the best ways to find direction when talking about what to do in the gym is by first, establishing your goal.

I mean, think about it ... if you don't know what you're going to the gym for, you're certainly not going to have any direction when you get there.

Plus, depending on what your main goal is, there are some styles of training that are more effective for specific goals than others.

For example, if you wanted to, say, gain 5-10 pounds of lean muscle, you probably wouldn't go to the gym to run on a treadmill every day.

You'd most likely want to prioritize weight lifting as your main style of training.

However, with so many different things you can actually do at the gym...

It's no wonder why it can be hard to know just what to do when you're first getting started.

So, start with your main goal.

Identify what you want the focus of your workouts to be on.


With your goal in mind, it's time to actually talk about what you can do at the gym.

Now, I know everybody goes to different gyms with different equipment and different amenities, and that's okay! For the sake of this article, I'm going to reference equipment that you can find in virtually any gym ... as well as exercises that can be performed pretty much anywhere that has this equipment!

But before we talk about that, and what the equipment can be used for, let's talk about warming up. This is a critical step that you should always include in your workouts. Warm-ups are designed to help prevent workout-related injuries … so don’t skip them!

There are two major components to a proper and effective warm-up routine: an aerobic warm-up, and dynamic stretching.

An aerobic warm-up can be something as easy as 5-10 minutes at a moderate pace on the treadmill or stationary bike. This helps raise your body temperature, increase blood flow, and literally "warm-up" your body to train.

Immediately after you do your aerobic warm-up, it's time for some dynamic stretching. You do this by simply picking a few lightweight/bodyweight exercises to do through a full range of motion.

This can be push-ups, air squats, pull-ups, lunges, and much more.

By doing these light compound movements, you're making sure that your shoulders, hips, knees, and other joints are ready to go.

After a few minutes of performing these exercises, the body should be ready to work out!


Once you're all warmed up, it's time to roll into the workout itself.

Let's get into the nitty-gritty … the different training styles you can do in the gym, and everything else you need to know — not only so you know exactly what to do when you get to the gym, but also so you can start earning the results you're after.

Because let's be real ... you probably want to know what to do in the gym so you can start pursuing your health and fitness goals.

Shoot, everybody does!

...and I'm sure you're wondering, "Well, what are my options for workouts at the gym?"

Well, depending on the gym you go to … the possibilities are nearly endless.

For the most part though, the workouts you can choose from are all going to be consistent across the board.

What I'm saying is ... whether your gym has the newest and finest equipment or not, you pretty much have the same options at mostly every gym.

Here are some of the options you have:


Resistance training is any workout that uses resistance to increase muscular strength and endurance.

Now, when most people think of resistance training, they think of weight lifting. This isn't wrong, however, there are plenty of other forms of resistance training outside of lifting weights.

Generally speaking, if your muscles are contracting and working against a force, it's a form of resistance training.

You can do resistance training with dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, body weight exercises, resistance bands, weight machines, and so much more. Important note: AT LEAST some, if not all, of this equipment can be found at just about every gym.

Most people who go to the gym incorporate resistance training in their workouts ... if not every training session, most training sessions. Personally, I like to work in resistance training for the majority of my training sessions.

That's because resistance training is phenomenal for those of us looking to build muscle and strength, while also being great for improving fat loss. This isn't only because these heavy lifts burn a ton of calories either...

You see, when you exercise in general, your body burns calories by consuming oxygen. Resistance training workouts will also force your body to dip into muscle glycogen (carbohydrates stored in muscle tissue) and adenosine tri-phosphate (ATP) for energy, as well as break down muscle tissue.

Because of this, your body is forced to consume extra oxygen after the workout to replenish its energy stores and get the blood to normal levels of oxygen saturation. It’s during this process when your body actually burns even more calories! Yes, your body literally continues to burn calories AFTER you weight train.

This is referred to as EPOC (Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption), and is one of the reasons why resistance training is a great option for anyone looking to burn fat as well.

Also to mention, assuming you’re giving your body the protein and calories it needs, weight training can also help you build lean muscle and strength.

The more lean muscle your body has ... the more calories you'll burn throughout the day. That's because muscle tissue is metabolically active, helping you burn calories, even at rest.

For these reasons and more, resistance training is great for both building muscle and burning fat.


Cardiovascular exercise is used to describe anything that involves aerobic activity. Aerobic just means “with air” … or as it applies to fitness, oxygen is the primary fuel source used to sustain the activity.

During cardiovascular exercise, your heart rate elevates and your breathing becomes deeper in order to take in more oxygen.

Running, swimming, biking, and even speed walking are all forms of cardiovascular exercise.

…and like I mentioned earlier…

Most gyms have a vast selection of equipment that you can use, especially for cardiovascular exercise.

They'll likely have stationary bikes, elliptical machines, treadmills, and if you’re lucky, you may even find a rower, ski erg, or assault bike.

For those of us who are looking to improve our overall health, lose body fat, or improve our overall performance ... cardio can be a great tool to help us earn the results we’re after.

Most people find that a healthy balance between resistance training and cardio is the most ideal for their goals.

That said, there is another style of training that is designed to give you the best of both worlds…


Another great option you have for training is mix modal training. If you’re not familiar, "mix modal" just means resistance training and cardio.

This style of training is essentially the marriage between resistance training and cardio.

Personally, I think this style of training is super effective and fun, but it’s not the most friendly option for beginners.

For one, you definitely want to make sure you are performing the exercises safely ... especially when it comes to mix modal styles of training like CrossFit, where there are several difficult compound movements that are regularly involved.

…and since these exercises require a lot of technical mastery … it’s hard to jump right into this kind of training without any sort of technical foundation in place.

If you’re interested in giving this style of training a try, you may want to start with some EMOM (Every minute on the minute) style workouts. I wish I would have known about EMOMs when I first started going to the gym.

EMOMs are a form of HIIT training where you get a minute to finish a set number of reps of an exercise. After the reps are over, the remainder of the minute you have to rest, before going right into the next exercise at the start of a new minute.

If you need a quick sweat in 15-20 minutes … try out an EMOM! You will be surprised at just how difficult they can be when you really push yourself.


Depending on the gym you plan on going to, you may want to look into different classes and services they offer.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how many gyms host classes and other activities that you can participate in, and still get a great workout. Heck, maybe you just want to be instructed and coached on what to do in the gym without having to come up with the workouts yourself. Well, a personal trainer can certainly be a great idea for you!

Either way, you won't be short of things that you can do in the gym.


We understand that there is no “one-size-fits-all” workout plan or program that will suit everyone’s goals and preferred training styles … and that’s okay! If you’re still feeling unsure about what exactly you should be doing in the gym, let us help! Reach out HERE!!

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