Today’s post was inspired by a few female friends of mine who, though they want to explore weight lifting, are not quite sure how to actually get INTO the weight room to get started without feeling totally out of place and uncomfortable.
When I first started lifting weights, the weight room intimidated me too. All those big bulky men walking around, clanging weights and grunting. I feel a tad out of place.
I’m sure that some of you can relate to this feeling, and it may even be preventing you from lifting, which is a shame! If this is you, I am here to share some of my tips for getting started in the weight room so that you can go in confident and ready!
First, get out of your mind the idea that the people in the weight room are judging you. While there are the occasional jerks (and who cares what those kinds of people think anyway?), most people, when they work out, are focused on their workouts, and not what others are doing. If they do notice you, it is very unlikely that they are judging you for being there. Most of the people in the weight room are actually really nice, and if you were to ask them a question or ask for help, they would likely be happy to give you assistance. My first couple of times in the weight room, I did ask a couple questions of the more seasoned people and they were happy to help!
Second, until you get comfortable with your routine, go into the weight room with a PLAN of what you want to accomplish. Evaluate what equipment your weight room has and then write out exactly which workouts you are going to do based on what muscle group you want to work. Don’t just come up with workouts on the fly. Also, make sure to research exactly how to do the workouts on your list. You do not want to risk hurting yourself from doing the exercise improperly. This is where things like the Bodybuilding.com Exercise Database and other resources (like Youtube or my own Exercise Database) might be helpful.
Third, understand weight room etiquette. Below are a few etiquette tips I try to follow:
- Don’t take over a bench, squat rack, dumbbells, barbell rack, etc. if you are not sure whether or not the person before you is done. A good indicator that the equipment is still being used is if the weights are still on the barbell or dumbbells are near a bench. Also, if you see things like a water bottle or keys near an empty station, somebody is likely coming back. Just wait, stand close by, and when they come back, ask them how many sets they have left so they know you would like to use it when they are done.
- Re-rack any weights you use. If you put plates on a barbell for an exercise, take them off and back on the rack when you’re done. If you use some dumbbells, put them back on the dumbbell rack where you got them.
- Wipe down any equipment after using it, especially benches. Most gyms have paper towels and a cleaning spray, so grab some paper towels, give them a few sprays, and wipe down the equipment you used/touched. Don’t leave your sweaty butt mark on that bench!
Fourth, put your head down and get to work! If you’ve planned your workout, have your list, know how to do the exercises, and understand proper weight room etiquette, but still feel intimidated, do it anyway! You’ve got this! I promise that if you go into the weight room two or three times a week for a month, you will feel so much more comfortable than before.
So if weight lifting is important to you, set some goals for what YOU need to do to make this a regular part of your exercise routine, and then implement it. Who knows? You may even make some friends to get tips and advice from, and who help keep you motivated and encouraged.
I hope you will give this a try! Once you become comfortable in the weight room, you feel so empowered and NO area of the gym will be off limits to you!