Lately I’ve been hearing quite a few women (and some men) tell me how they get intimidated when they go to the gym, and not by the treadmills or ellipticals. It’s the weight area that is filled with those extra-beefy men lifting those extra-heavy weights. While the view is nice, most beginners are worried they will look like fools while trying to lift weights. Also, if you’re anything like me, you don’t want those beef-heads talking to you, trying to tell you how good you look lifting. (which is why I wear headphones to the gym all the time, works about 90% of the time)
I’m here to tell you there’s nothing to fear! Free weights and even those bars are nothing to worry about. Here are a few important tips to keep in mind next time you’re in the gym:
- Warm up before lifting weights! A simple 5 to 10 minutes on the treadmill will do, be sure to get the heart rate to at least 100 to 110 BPM!
- For the beginner, start super light! Don’t feel bad grabbing only 5 pound weights, or starting with just the bare bar. Start low and you can always add weight if it’s too easy! It’s better to go up than to go too heavy and injure yourself.
- Start with a simple 3 sets of 10-12 reps. Give yourself 30 to 60 seconds between each set for rest.
- Exhale while contracting your muscles, i.e. exhale while curling up on bicep curls and inhale while going back down.
- Maintain control throughout every movement. It isn’t a race, and you get the most out of the exercises if you do them with control. Focus on the movements and don’t let gravity or momentum take over.
- Proper form is key. Overall, the general rule is to keep your core engaged, your knees should never be fully locked, and you want to watch yourself in the mirror if available to make sure you’re not hunched over or letting your form slip.
If you’re not even sure what proper form looks or feels like for you, I can help you find your proper form through a few personal training sessions. Even if you’re not local to Oak Park, it is beneficial to find a personal trainer to help you learn proper form while lifting weights. Many people in the gym may be willing to help you as well, but take advice with a grain of salt. Unless they are fitness professionals, they may not know the proper form for you. Everyone is a little different and your form might not look exactly like that beef-cake who weighs 300 pounds. Just saying. 🙂
Also, another myth busted: lifting weights doesn’t make you super huge. You will gain muscle and tone up, but in order to get huge like a bodybuilder you’d have to do way more lifting than any normal person at the gym does. So unless you really try, you will only get stronger muscles and look sexier of course.
Do you lift weights? If so, how did you start? Are you intimidated by the weight section of the gym? If so, why? What’s your biggest fear? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.