Thinking of hitting the weights but feeling a little bit…out of place? Well, you aren’t alone. When everyone else appears to be twice your size and lifting the weight of a small car without thinking about it, it can be pretty disconcerting. But you know what? Just like you, they all had to start somewhere. And hey – the fact you’ve actually showed up is a lot further than plenty of people get.
Start at the beginning
The fact is, weight training is a great way to gain strength and get fit. Plus, when it becomes a regular part of your fitness routine it can also be incredibly satisfying and a whole lot of fun too. And those incredible hulks suddenly become a source of inspiration rather than intimidation. But first things first.
You need two towels for two reasons
A little bit of gym etiquette. You’re going to get hot and sweaty. Which means the benches and equipment you come into contact with will need wiping down once you’re done. Cleaning up after yourself is not only good manners. It’s expected. So there’s towel number one. Then you’re obviously going to want to shower after your workout. Want to use the same towel to dry yourself afterwards? Didn’t think so.
Drink plenty of water
Muscles are 70% water. So no prizes for guessing all that water needs replenishing during your weight-based workout. Here’s the science from to bodybuilding.com if you’re interested:
“During resistance training, water is driven from blood into muscle cells and surrounding areas. This creates the “pump” sensation, but on a more fundamental level it’s also just what muscles do when they try to move a heavy load. When body water is compromised because of poor fluid consumption, often in combination with excessive sweating, water is drawn out of muscle and back into the blood. This ensures the preservation of circulation and keeps your blood pressure at safe levels.”
Free weights are your friends
Still awake? OK, so while those modern machines make you look like a pro, dumbbells and other free weights are an essential part of your routine. They work your muscles just as hard, if not harder. There are usually plenty to go around. And while machines target the main muscle groups, free weights can give you an even more complete workout.
Meet the barbell
The barbell is also really effective for a consistent build-up of strength. It allows you to start small and increase your weight each week, especially if you combine it with squats. It’s also a good stable choice for a beginner because you use two hands to lift. But easier to manage doesn’t mean safer to use. Minimise the risk of injury by asking a fitness instructor to check your technique.
Mix it up
Use a wide range of weights to get the ideal all-round strength and fitness training. But as a beginner, avoid a struggle. Using too-heavy weights is more likely to leave you with an ice pack than a six-pack. The secret is to start slowly and consistently build up the weight you lift. That way you’re more likely to keep your routine fun and injury-free, rather than turn it into a daunting challenge. And don’t forget to make the most of the huge selection of premium gyms on E² to keep things interesting.
Be prepared to spot a fellow lifter
The gym is a place where fitness should be fun. Where you can socialise. And where you can rely on others to help you reach your fitness goals. That includes being available to spot others, who can then return the favour. Eh? Spotting is basically supporting a fellow lifter, being ready to take some the weight just in case. But ask exactly what they need from you and take the opportunity to learn from someone with experience.
Never be afraid to ask
Gym instructors understand just how daunting getting started can be. They are there to support you with tips, advice and suggestions for routines you can stick to. And when you’re lifting the equivalent to a small car, remember to keep your eyes open for any newbies you can help out. After all, there’s nothing to be scared of, right?