By Helen Von Morton
Whether you’re a gym rat or a gym newbie, there are sure to be a few things you can’t figure out. From machines that intimidate, to exercises that hurt, to the innocuous conundrum of what to wear to the gym without looking like you’re trying too hard, let our Inside Fitness experts guide you through overcoming your biggest gym beefs.
Problem: “How can I do a pull-up without looking like an amateur?”
Solution: Rita Catolino, certified personal trainer, motivational speaker, and fitness model says, “Training heavy with a lat pulldown machine is a good starting point. Also, knowing how to engage your latissimus dorsi (the largest back muscle) and ‘think’ with those muscles instead of your arms.” The back
is the muscle group lifting your body weight, so working on eccentrics, or the lowering portion of a rep, can really help. Rita suggests using a pull-up bar over a bench to hoist yourself up. Holding the top position for as long as possible before contracting your back muscles and slowly lowering yourself back down. Weekly reps are a great way to improve back strength and if you’re looking to work out at home, and Rita recommends using superbands to help pit with this movement.
Problem: “I can’t find workout clothes that are a happy medium between too tight and baggy.”
Solution: Don’t worry — Rita faced this challenge when she started her own fitness journey and now she has some great solutions. “Brands like Lululemon, although tight, have an array of colours, styles, and fits. Try buying a size bigger than normal so you don’t feel like a sausage stuffed into its casing,” Rita suggests. For those on more of a budget, local big box stores, like Winners, also have a range of brands at reasonable prices. “Personally, I find that Adidas clothing has the perfect balance of fit, function, and fashion,” Rita shares.
Problem: “I’m bored of my workouts and my body is not changing anymore. It’s been six months of the same old thing. How can I drag my lazy butt into the gym?”
Solution: Keeping things fresh, Luke Veens, CSCS, CPT, BSc, says, is as easy as changing up your workout routine every four to six weeks. “This will not only ensure your body doesn’t hit any plateaus physically, but will also stop boredom and mental plateaus from defeating you before the workout even starts.” Another tip he highly recommends is holding yourself accountable by having someone rely on you to be there. “Whether that means hiring a personal trainer or simply having a workout buddy for regularly scheduled appointments, a little friendly competition in this case doesn’t hurt either.”
Problem: “Once I start working out I’m fine — getting on the treadmill is the hardest part!”
Solution: Grab a skipping rope to get your mojo revved up. “I do a few rounds of jump rope,” Rita says, “The endorphins and energy start to kick in, and the transition to the next machine is a lot easier! The more you sweat, the more you want!” And if you’re a morning exerciser like Rita is, studies have shown that a cuppa Joe can boost energy and increase fat burn. “I like to drink a strong espresso coffee 15 minutes before I work out, first thing in the morning.” Luke agrees with having a pre-run coffee but cautions against a caffeine jolt post-workout, stating, “It could actually have adverse effects as it can increase cortisol levels, which we actually want to come down after a hard workout so that muscles can properly recover.”