Glancing across the gym and looking into the free-weights area, having never been there before, can be quite daunting… Trust me. It doesn’t matter if you are a guy or a girl looking to pick up those dumbbells or barbells, the world of the free weights has always seemed a bit elitist.
Even the weight machines, which are supposed to be helpful, look a bit scary sometimes. “What goes where? How do I lower the seat? What muscle group is this even for?” are just some of the questions that have gone through my mind when I’ve tried to dip my toe into the world of weights. Some of the contraptions look confusing to say the least…
But, with more and more people realising how beneficial weight lifting is for lowering body fat and gaining lean muscle, we are seeing a decrease in full blown cardio bunnies and an increase in the lifters. Even the weight areas in our gyms seem less daunting and dingy, with easy to use, up to date equipment and plenty to go around in those busy periods.
If you are thinking of picking up the weights… here are my five top tips for getting started:
#1 – Make a Plan
Starting up at any gym without having a plan or a goal can sometimes be pretty pointless. Without knowing what you want the end result to be, you won’t be able to find a way to get there. There are plenty of websites full of ready-made, easy to use training plans from outright beginning to seasoned pro. Some websites even tailor make programmes for your specific goals, taking in all of your stats and giving you the best weights programme for you. I use BodyBuilding.com to find plans to suit me, as I prefer the shorter plans to keep me interested.
#2 – Do your Homework
Yes, you may now have your training plan in place, but there is nothing more intimidating that walking into the free weights area with absolutely no idea what to do, or even how to do it. Spend some time searching online & looking at YouTube videos to figure out what the exercises in your plan actually are, and how to do them (BodyBuilding.com also has videos). Finding out what muscles they work will also help, so that you can adjust your form if you are feeling the burn in the wrong area.
#3 – Take it Slow
You may feel like picking up the heaviest weight you can carry and throwing it around #LADpoints – but all that you are going to do is cause yourself, or someone working out close by, an injury. Not ideal. Start with a lower weight to ensure that you form is correct and that you aren’t throwing your back out or over-extending to counter balance the weight. Once you can finish your reps/sets with good form, then you can up the weights. Trust me, it’s frustrating, but with form comes responsibility (I think that’s the saying) so don’t try and show off, because all you’ll end up doing is looking like a bit of an out of control plonker.
#4 – Write it Down
Be one of ‘those guys’ and take a notepad and pen into the gym to write down what weight you’ve completed for each exercise. If the training plan you found online is printable, then fill in the weights on there as you are going around. If you’re a bit self conscious about it, then just jot them down in a note on your mobile. You will then be able to figure out what weight you want to use for your next session, and you’ll also be able to track your progress! Win/win! have a look at this exercise diary to see what I mean.
#5 – Eat Well
Working out with weights burns more calories, so make sure that your meal and supplement plan reflect the needs of your body. If you are struggling to eat enough throughout the day, add in a protein shake to top up your levels, helping to grow and repair your muscles, ready for your next session. I have Diet Whey Protein from Go Nutrition, and Protein Mousse in Butterscotch (it’s like Angel Delight – incred!)
And finally – don’t be scared! There are plenty of people in the same situation as you, so don’t worry about taking those first steps into the weights world. Once you’ve been at it for a couple of weeks, you’ll start seeing permanent changes to your body and you’ll be hooked, so get started today and lift your way to a fitter, healthier body.