I was pretty active as a kid and teenager. I played multiple sports throughout middle school and high school to include Softball, Cheerleading, Field Hockey, and Lacrosse (I tried out for the middle school basketball team, but quickly learned I did not have hoop skills…). I had a natural interest in sports and being active at a young age, so it was no surprise that I enjoyed learning to lift weights.
When I got my first gym membership at the YMCA down the street from my house, I was really excited to start lifting but had no idea what I was doing and definitely felt intimidated to use the weight room...it was often filled with older men (or teenage boys I went to school with). I mainly stuck to the resistance machines starting out that were located outside of the free weight room. I slowly built confidence over time (with the help of many fitness magazines and studying the routines in them) to eventually dedicate most of my gym time to the man-filled weight room with no issues.
If you’re just getting started with lifting or thinking about lifting, my advice to you is to just get started! Figure out your strength training workout BEFORE you head to the gym so that you have a plan when you get there, and don’t hesitate to ask for help from a qualified fitness professional if you need it.
This week I give 3 tips to beginner lifters for hitting the ground running when getting started.
1. Focus on form first.
When just starting out, don’t worry so much about how much weight you’re lifting. Focus on how well you’re performing the exercise. Are you grooving the correct movement pattern to build upon? That’s what’s going to matter in the long term for building some serious strength, injury prevention, and getting the most out of your workouts. Build a solid foundation first by practicing and performing the exercise correctly.
2. Prioritize compound exercises.
Compound exercises are your bread and butter for strength training. They work multiple muscle groups at once, helping you to become a better mover, making everyday activities like climbing stairs, carrying groceries or kids, or picking up a laundry basket so much easier. They also maximize the efficiency of your time in the gym, especially if you only have 2-4 days per week to lift. Compound exercises include squats variations, deadlift or hip hinge variations, upper body push exercises (think push ups or bench press), upper body pull exercises ( think pull-ups, or bent over rows), and core exercises.
As a new lifter, I definitely avoided a good amount of these exercises because of my very low comfort level with using free weights and cable machines. I can assure you however that the sooner you learn these exercises, the greater the result you’ll see in your progress, whether that’s getting stronger, leaner, or putting on muscle.
If you are unsure if you’re doing an exercise correctly or using a piece of equipment properly, most fitness professionals or trainers are more than happy to help, just ask! If you’d like to expedite your strength training progress altogether, I highly recommend working directly with a coach. In my own experience, working closely with a coach has helped me exponentially in getting stronger and really seeing the progress I wanted to see in the gym!
3. Just. Keep. Going!
Learning to lift weights is like learning any other new skill; it requires time and practice to develop. With time, you grow stronger and more confident in your abilities and the process of building strength will become really enjoyable. I encourage you to trust the process, and embrace the journey of strength training!
Are you new to strength training? What other questions/ topics can I cover for you?! Let me know in the comments!
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