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“New Year/Month/Day, New Me” is the infamous phrase we all use before joining the gym in an attempt to change our lifestyle. Supporting and assuring ourselves that we’ll succeed is key, but learning the proper techniques and knowledge about the gym is also crucial. The gym can be a place where injuries are easily sustained. Using equipment wrong, having the wrong form, and recklessly lifting heavy weights can cause physical injuries and long-term damage to the body. So, I’ll be providing some information for beginners on how to avoid the mishaps, get started at the gym, and sustainably progress. 

First of all, the vocabulary and acronyms used at the gym can be hard to understand, so here’s a guide that will ensure that you’re able to converse with people at the gym and feel confident in your knowledge.

  • Reps: Also called repetitions; how many times you repeat a movement/exercise.
  • Sets: The number of rounds that you complete a series of exercises.
  • HIIT: High-Intensity Interval Training
  • Warm-Up: Stretching and activating the muscles to engage and loosen them before beginning an exercise. Not warming up can result in damage and soreness in the muscles.
  • Cool Down: Stretching and doing less strenuous activity to bring the body back to it's normal level.
  • RDL: Romanian Deadlifts
  • AMRAP: As Many Reps As Possible 
  • Active Recovery: When you take time away from exercise, often on rest days, to engage in active rests such as walks or biking. 
  • Superset: A pair of exercises that will repeat for a certain number of sets.
  • Pull: Upper-body exercises that consist of pulling motions (e.g. Hammer Curls, Bicep Curls)
  • Push: Upper-body exercises that consist of pushing motions (e.g. Shoulder Press, Bench Press)

Focusing on every body part is crucial to see progress, so it’s important to have a split and work  out different muscle groups. Working out 5-6 days a week is ideal, but due to our busy schedules, we may not have so much time. Instead, 4, 5, or 6-day splits are better, as they allow the body to slowly strengthen without putting on too much stress. Try the examples below:

6 DAY SPLIT5 DAY SPLIT4 DAY SPLIT
DAY 1: Back + Biceps = PULL
DAY 2: Cardio + Abs
DAY 3: Glutes + Quads
DAY 4: Chest, Shoulders + Triceps = PUSH
DAY 5: HIIT
DAY 6: OFF
DAY 7: Glutes 
DAY 1: Glutes + Quads
DAY 2: Chest, Shoulders + Triceps = PUSH
DAY 3: Cardio + Abs
DAY 4: OFF
DAY 5: HIIT
DAY 6: OFF
DAY 7: Back + Biceps = PULL
DAY 1: Back + Biceps = PULL
DAY 2: OFF
DAY 3: Glutes + Quads
DAY 4: OFF
DAY 5: Chest, Shoulders + Triceps = PUSH
DAY 6: OFF
DAY 7: Cardio + Abs

Hopefully, this guide gives you a little more insight and confidence to head over to your local gym and start working out! 

Harshpreet Mann

Waterloo '26

I'm a first year Honours Legal Studies student at the University of Waterloo. I am the Social Media Director for Her Campus Waterloo. I love being able to socialize and talk to new people who I have never engaged with before and slowly connecting and building relationships with them. My hobbies are singing, art, and going out with friends. I'm happy to be apart of this team of amazing individuals!
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