Whenever people start to incorporate exercise into our routines, most of us will usually turn to cardio to help us get started. Hell, that’s exactly what I did. Running is free and you can go at your own pace – what’s not to love? But what if you’re looking for a little more variety in your daily exercise routines? Have you considered getting started with weights training? At one time or another, most of us have thought about it, but there’s still the intimidation factor of the gym and the fear that other people will look on and shame you. I am not a personal trainer, nor am I a super toned gym bunny, just a pretty average gym-goer here to tell you that that’s just not the case. I’ve had some very positive experiences since officially joining the gym over a year ago but I know how difficult it can be to get started, especially when you’re looking to focus on weights. So I’m here to help.
Start with your bodyweight
Getting started in the gym all comes down to confidence. If you’re looking to take on movements such as squats and lunges, you don’t need to jump straight in with a barbell – instead you can take on resistance training with your own bodyweight. It’s more important to create workout routines that challenge you and that you enjoy if the aim is to keep you coming back again and again. Over time, you can look to up your game with resistance bands, kettlebells and more, before stepping up to the bar.
Go it alone, or with friends
It can be intimidating to walk into any new environment alone, especially in the gym when you feel completely unsure of where to start. But remember there’s strength in numbers and friends can be great motivators on your fitness journey. Yet, you may not have friends with the same goals, or the same schedule, so sometimes, you just have to go it alone. From someone who’s been there, just throw yourself in. Start with moves that you enjoy, whether you just want to focus on bodyweight movements or practice with the dumbbells in the first instance. Some gyms will have women-only areas or dedicated spaces for free weights, creating a much more comfortable area to help get you started. Or if you really can’t face working out alone, sign up to weights-based classes for that group encouragement. But the best bit of knowledge that I can share with you? No one is actually paying attention to anyone else. It’s true – we’re all too busy focusing on ourselves and trying not to look stupid.
Start with two days a week
Don’t feel as though all of your training has to be centred around weights just because you’ve hit the gym – it doesn’t. The experts recommend that you start out at two days a week, with another two days of cardio – where possible. If you really want to focus on strength training, you should be looking to train between three to five days a week but let’s be honest, no one starts out doing that. Plus, you need to introduce your body slowly to such a drastic change. Get started with 20 minute sessions then gradually increase your time by 5 minutes each week until you reach between 45 to 60 minute workouts. You’ve got this.
How many reps?
When you’re getting started, you don’t want to overexert yourself. After all, you want to be able to walk the next day and make it back to the gym for your next session. Try to get started with 15 reps per exercise, with three sets. For example, if you’re practicing your squatting skills, complete the move 15 times, stop for a breather and then repeat until you’ve completed your three sets. When you add in heavier weights, you can reduce the number of reps until you can build back up to 15 movements. Once you do this, up your weight. Rest and repeat.
Practice the same moves
The quickest route to improvement is to practice the same moves repeatedly at each session for the first few weeks, focusing on your technique. Not only will this to help fuel your motivation as you see yourself make improvements perhaps aesthetically or in terms of overall fitness and strength, but it can also help you to increase the weight you can lift week-on-week.
Stretch it out
Of course, after all that hard work, don’t forget to stretch yourself out. As well as feeling pretty damn good, this can help to improve your flexibility. Hold your stretch for around 20 seconds and try to make sure you hit the muscle groups that you’ve been busy working on that day with a static movement.
I know weights training can seem intimidating at first – it is for the majority of us anyway. However, there are so many reasons why you should make this part of your routine including improved posture, stress reduction, reduced risk of injury, improved strength, fighting Osteoporosis and much more. If you’re unsure of where to start, you really can’t go wrong with the basics – think squats, lunges and press-ups, and just get going with your own bodyweight before moving on up. But my biggest piece of advice that I can give? Don’t be the one to hold yourself back – step foot in the gym and get going because we all have to start somewhere.