Exercising is one of the most important aspects of life today, because being productive at work and your state of mental well being all depend on the well being and fitness of your body. In an age of technology (which some regard as an evil) where teenagers as young as 15 have started suffering from grave problems like obesity and diabetes, exercising on a regular basis seems to be the only prevention (and cure). But the fundamental question remains unanswered to the beginner: How to use this mind-blowing facility to the fullest?

Well to be honest, it hardly matters what your goals are or what your condition is, the most fundamental thing that maximizes your chances of making the most of a gym is following the 4 step rule, that begins with a proper warm-up and finishes with a proper cool-down and stretch.

It is a universally accepted convention to have a brief warm up session before any strenuous physical activity. So be it any form of work-out: strength, cardio, endurance, toning, or the routine ones, always start with a warm-up session. Try to include dynamic stretching and some jogging, as they help to coordinate the functions of the heart, lungs, circulatory system and muscles so they work together from the very beginning of the exercise session. It is advisable, according to several leading physiotherapists, not to include static stretching in the warm-up as it has some adverse repercussions like temporary decrease in strength and ability to leap. A quick warm-up session of about 5-10 minutes drastically reduces the risk of injury during the session.

The part that arrives after the warm-up is the strength exercise session. This section however depends on a very crucial question: What is the objective of your working out? To build strong and manifestable muscles, use heavy weights or high resistance settings on machines and perform repetitions until it’s difficult to do any more. If you are confused about how much weight to use, try as much weight as you can work out with for not more than 90 seconds. It is recommended to have a period of two minutes as rest before the beginning of another set. Maintain at least 24 hours between two resistance-based workouts, or (even better) perform an upper-body workout during one session and a lower-body workout the next, to allow your muscles to repair and grow larger. And for general muscle health, non-bodybuilders who wish to maintain strength for performing daily activities at home and work should perform 10 to 15 of each resistance exercise using only enough weight to challenge your muscles.


To improve the health of your heart (and burn calories), exercise at the maximum heart rate you can maintain for 30 minutes or longer. Choose an intensity that lets you continue for at least 30 minutes. However, increasing your heart rate during subsequent workouts as you build stamina and endurance is quite necessary. If you can only exercise for 10 minutes at a particular heart rate, reduce your intensity to get a longer workout. For general heart health, exercise at a moderate intensity, similar to brisk walking, for 150 minutes each week. If possible, monitor your intensity by checking your heart rate while you’re exercising. Use a personal heart rate monitor or the one on a cardio machine to keep a proper track of your heart rate.

After the exercise session is done with, it is quite necessary to cool down the body. However, this should not be done in a sudden manner, like by drinking chilled water or moving into an air-conditioned room. It should be done in a gradual and eventual manner. Sitting down quietly and taking deep breaths for some time is helpful. This should follow a brisk session of stretching to elongate your muscles.

As I have already said, staying fit is a necessity. Now that you know how to use a gym properly, why not start?

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Written by Pranjal Mondal

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