Advice for Gym Newbies

The gym can be an intimidating place for a beginner. Massive, sweaty men slamming weight against the floor can make any gym newcomer nervous. This is normal and I promise that everyone feels this way in the beginning.

This was me four years ago and I was completely terrified of stepping foot in the gym. I was barely over a hundred pounds and couldn’t bench close to my body weight. However, like overcoming many things, once I exposed myself to my fear (the gym in this case), I realized that my fears were unfounded and that the positives of exercise and going to the gym vastly outweighed any preconceived negatives.

Here are a few pieces of advice to beginners in the gym:

  1. Don’t overdo it

Whether it be weights or frequency, the desire to build muscle and get fit can make you want to spend all your time in the gym or doing the most difficult exercises. In the beginning, this was my mentality but I got burnt out and made little progress. It can be easier to start lifting once you know some of the basics.

  • “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” -Michael Jackson

Starting with bodyweight exercises like squats or push-ups can provide you with a solid foundation for when you start lifting weights.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

It can be intimidating to ask someone in the gym who looks like this guy for help…

but most people in the gym will go out of their way to help you. Of course, there may be a minority of grumpy people in the gym, but most will be excited that they get to share their knowledge and geek out about fitness with you. If you see someone with a physique you admire doing an exercise you have been wanting to learn, ask them for help! For instance, I have asked people to judge my deadlift/squat form and have received nothing but encouragement and support. If you want to build your biceps and see a guy with huge biceps, ask him about the variation of curls he recommends!

3. Realize that no one is judging you!

When I started lifting weights at the gym, I was super self-conscious. I was constantly looking over my shoulder, wondering if one of my fellow gym-goers was judging me. Over time, I realized that 99% of people in the gym have a singular focus: get a good workout in. More than likely they are concealing the same worries as you: “Can people see my sweat stains?”, “Is my form bad?”, “Are my love handles exposed?”. It took me a while to realize this but if someone is judging you-it’s their problem, not yours.

4. Form is infinitely more important than how heavy you lift.

Somewhere along their fitness journey, most people can fall into the trap of “ego-lifting”. “Ego-lifting” is lifting for the sole purpose of impressing others. “Ego lifting” will stunt your progress. Although you may not want others to see you benching only the bar, remember no one is judging you! Gradually increase the weight you use, aiming for more reps/sets each workout. (Depending on your goals, reps, and sets can differ. Lower reps at a higher weight have been shown to be more conducive to strength gains, while higher reps at a lower weight have been shown to be more conducive to muscle growth [hypertrophy])

Slow and steady wins the race.

5. Stay consistent

Nothing matters more than consistency. The person with your dream body did not get that body overnight. The people with the most impressive physiques in the gym have been consistently putting in work for 5, 10, 20+ years. It can be frustrating when you see little change in the mirror or on the scale, but the progress you seek will come, given time. Stick to your routine, forgive yourself for any setbacks, and put in the work to achieve your goals.

This is me now, four years into my fitness journey.

Let me know if you have any questions/feedback!

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