Going to the gym is a great way to get in shape, but it can be intimidating if you’re just starting out. Even if you’re a regular at the gym, you might feel like your routine isn’t producing results. Fortunately, getting fit in the gym is more than possible, regardless of your personal fitness goals. The key is to develop effective, safe workout habits and to arrive at the gym prepared and ready to succeed.

Come up with a realistic gym schedule that you’ll be able to stick to. It may be tempting to plan on going to the gym every day of the week for faster results, but this can lead to burnout and you might feel discouraged if you miss days and don’t meet your goal. Instead, decide how many days of the week you can realistically make it to the gym and start there. You can always increase the frequency of your workouts later on when going to the gym becomes more of a habit.[1]If you’re new to working out, try setting aside 2 days a week to go to the gym. That way, you can get your feet wet without feeling overwhelmed.

Wear comfortable clothes and supportive athletic shoes to the gym. You want to wear clothes that will make your workout easier and that won’t get in your way while you’re exercising. Go with shirts that will wick away sweat and shorts that don’t restrict your range of motion.[2]Shirts and shorts made out of polyester, spandex, nylon, or a cotton-polyester blend are good choices for the gym.[3]Polyester, in particular, needs to be laundered after every time you sweat in it. Unwashed polyester can quickly develop an unpleasant smell.

Bring a water bottle with you to stay hydrated during your workouts. Working out at the gym makes you sweat and lose water, so it’s important that you’re replenishing your body as you exercise. Aim to drink 8 fluid ounces (240 mL) of water every 15 minutes during your workouts.[4]Dehydration can actually negatively affect your workouts by causing cramps and dizziness, as well as making your muscles weaker.
If you’re going to be working out for longer than 1 hour, it’s a good idea to bring a sports drink with you too so you can refuel your body. However, not all sports drinks are the same. Look for an isotonic sports drink that contains carbohydrates and sodium, which will give your body more energy during your workout.

Warm up for 5-10 minutes before your workouts so you don’t injure yourself. Make it a habit to do your warm-ups right when you get to the gym. Focus on doing active, dynamic movements that bring your muscles through their full range of motion, like leg swings, high knees, and arm circles. A dynamic warm-up will get your body ready for your workout session.[6]Not warming up before exercising can leave your body more prone to injury, so make sure you don’t skip your warm-ups at the gym.