If you’re stepping into a gym for the first time and wanting to start lifting weights with no idea where to start, then this post is for you. Welcome to Lifting 101. Class starts now.
Start out with weight machines
I say this because to do free weights you have to know the different exercises to do and can’t just jump in and start as easy. Another reason for starting with machines is that it will get you used to the different motions & movements that you should be doing; They will teach you the building blocks of lifting: motion, form, etc. [Read more in depth here: Free weights vs. Machines]
Don’t let the weight stack touch
When you workout, every rep you want to keep tension on the muscle. When you let the stack touch on machines, you are letting the tension off, therefore resting the muscle. You don’t want to rest the muscle until the set is over.
Stretch & Squeeze. FORM.
In every rep you of every exercise you do, remember that there are two key components: The squeeze of the muscle & the stretch of the muscle. So, in a bicep curl, for example, at the top you are squeezing the muscle hard & and at the bottom the whole bicep is being stretched. Form is extremely important. No half-rep BS. No trying to do more weight than you can. Form, form, form!!
Work different muscle groups
When you go in the gym each day, you can’t do the exact same machines/exercises every day. You are breaking down those muscles and have to give those muscle groups time to recover. So if you go in on a Monday, you may hit the upper body machines and then on Wednesday, maybe the lower body machines. If you plan on coming in 4 or more times a week, then you can split it up even more meaning you do arms on Monday, Legs on Tuesday, Shoulders on Wednesday, etc…
Count your reps!!
You won’t know if you’re getting stronger if you aren’t keeping track of your progress. Write down the weight you get & for how many reps on each machine if you need to, but track yourself.
Sets & Reps
You’re probably wondering once you get on these machines, how many you should do. A typical starting point is 3 sets of 10 reps. You will change this up as you get more advanced but start with it. So choose a weight you can get for 10 challenging reps and go. After you will rest for thirty seconds to a minute and then start your second set.
“How much weight should I do?”
No one can answer this question for you. I can’t feel if 50 lbs. on a certain machine is hard or easy for you to do. Trial and error; put the weight pin in the stack at different amounts and try it. Too easy, add weight; too hard, lower weight. Easy as that.
I get that you’re just starting out and if you’re even half as sore as I am after workouts, you will hate your life and want to quit. But you are going to be sore. When you lift, you are putting micro tears in your muscle and that is going to hurt a little. But your body will over-compensate when repairing these tears and that’s why you get stronger. So the soreness is worth it. Push yourself to where if you’re doing 10 reps, those ten reps are a challenge, not just 20 seconds of wasting your life because it was simple. No one ever said that this would be easy. To achieve anything in life including the body you want, you will go through struggle and hard times. So push yourself by overloading your muscles and you will improve.
Set short-term goals
I really recommend reading this article if you’re just starting.
THE MOST IMPORTANT TIP OF ALL: NEVER STOP LEARNING
You won’t get any better if you just go in and do the same old stuff every day for too long. You need to talk to people, read different things, watch what people are doing, and keep learning. I don’t know it all and can’t teach you everything but I will teach you what I can. You will find that everyone has opposite opinions on workouts, nutrition, etc… Learn everything you can & you will eventually form your own opinions and develop your own style, per se; So always be open to learning something new.
Hopefully this helps everyone that is starting out lifting weights! As you get better, help the next guy/girl that is a beginner to lifting. We’re all in this together!
Thanks for reading!