Gyms are strange places, full of machinery that looks like it’s been borrowed from the Spanish Inquisition. Even more curious are the men who know how to use it but definitely don’t want to tell you.

So step in pre-armed with the knowledge you need to get better results – without wasting time.

Prepare Better

Nike didn’t become the world’s most valuable clothing brand by giving its kit away. Training gear is expensive and, since all you do is sweat in it, you need a lot of it. That said, it’s worth the investment according to Dylan Jones, personal trainer and founder of P4Body: “If you look the part you’ll feel the part.”

Rock up in an old T-shirt and moth-eaten shorts combination and odds are you’ll have jacked in the gym membership before it even needs replacing.

“You will also find that the right kit will allow you to move more freely giving your body more of a chance to develop correct, unrestricted movement patterns,” adds Jones. Style and substance.

Don’t Go In Blind

Grab weight, lift weight, drop weight, done. Right? Not quite. Fitness is built on knowledge; so without a programme, any gains will be more by accident than design.

“Failing to plan is planning to fail,” says Jones. “The best way to achieve success and optimise your time in the sweat zone is by having a trainer or following a programme designed specifically for you.”

Even one session with a PT every month will ensure that what you do the rest of the time is driven towards achieving your goals.

Scrub Up

Sweat doesn’t smell. The bacteria that feed on sweat most certainly do. “Although we want to promote functional movement, similar to how we used to move as cavemen, that doesn’t mean we need to mimic their smell,” says Jones.

If training three times a week you’ll need at least two complete sets of kit, so while one’s on your back, the other can be in the machine. And don’t use fabric softener – it clogs the sweat-wicking fabric and will make your shorts stink and chafe.

Slow And Steady

Those fitness magazines are lying, a six-pack is not built in six weeks. Train like it is and you’ll spend at least six weeks sidelined after being crushed by a barbell.

“Going in too hard and too fast is asking for trouble and may slow your progress down as you nurse an injury,” says Jones. “Take your time and allow your connective tissue and neurotransmitters to mature before you start throwing the big weights around.” Go big early and go home via the hospital.

Know Your Goal

The more specific the aims, the easier it is to track progress. If your aim is just ‘get in shape’, it’s hard to know when you’ve achieved it. If it’s ‘lose 5kg by my holiday’, then if you’re not getting there you can take steps to improve your training.

“Having a goal and clear definition of what you want to achieve will give you the motivation, drive and direction you need to succeed,” says Jones. “Record your measurements so you can monitor your progress and tweak your diet or programme.”

Eat Right

There’s truth in the thinking that fitness is 20 per cent gym and 80 per cent diet.

“There is no truer saying than abs are made in the kitchen,” says Jones. “Up your protein and switch the high sugary foods for slow release carbohydrates like brown rice, sweet potato and quinoa. Replace soft drinks and alcohol with water and eat plenty of greens. Further enhance your diet with performance supplements to support your training demands and speed up recovery.”