Stepping into the gym for the first time can be intimidating to say the least, especially when all the other gym-goers seem so much more experienced than you.
The success of your health and fitness goals all depend on the habits and behaviors you perform day in and day out- your nutrition, your sleep, and of course- your workouts. Here are some of the best gym tips for beginners to make your foray into health and fitness as successful as possible!
How to start exercising (for beginners)
If you’re a newbie to the gym scene and are feeling a little intimidated by those around you who seem to have it all figured out, not to worry! Incorporate these tips into your next workout and you’ll be feeling like a regular gym-junkie in no time!
1. Have a Plan and Track Progress
If you read our article on gym mistakes to avoid, you’ll know you need to head into the gym with a plan! But what you do with that plan is arguably even more important.
One of the biggest tips a beginner can have in their arsenal: track everything you do! Take your workout with you to the gym and write down the reps you complete and at what weight for each and every exercise.
This is how you will engage in progressive overload and how you will get stronger over time! Tracking progress also means taking progress photos, weighing yourself (but not more than once per week and only if weight loss is a goal of yours), and taking body measurements.
2. Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help
As a beginner it is common to have questions and to be unsure about how things work. There is usually always a trainer on the gym floor and they are there for a reason- ask them anything you have doubts about!
Whether there is a machine you’d like to use that you’re unsure about, you need help setting up the squat rack or you’re confused about the elliptical - these are all questions to ask the trainer or manager.
Learning how to use things correctly helps a lot when it comes to boosting your confidence in the gym and also builds your feelings of belonging. Plus, not asking for help or advice leaves you at risk of performing an exercise incorrectly, which, at best, won’t help you get any fitter, and at worst- can leave you seriously injured.
3. Focus on Form
With strength training, form is crucial. It’s important not to rush through an exercise and simply use momentum to move the weights. Take things slow and get a feel for the correct form.
This is especially helpful for figuring out rep ranges for certain exercises, as you’ll want to feel fatigued by the last few reps, but still be able to keep good form. If you’re unsure, you can ask the trainer for a form check or browse Youtube for proper demonstrations of most exercises.
4. Choose the Right Weight
Hand in hand with good form is choosing how much weight to use for a given exercise. Some people underestimate themselves (women especially) and tend to choose light weights when they could definitely challenge themselves and go heavier. Other people want to hit the weights hard and heavy right from the beginning, and this isn’t helpful either.
Going too heavy also leads to bad form, (refer back to the last point). More important than the amount of weight you’re using is the muscle contraction you feel from the exercise. Focus on that feeling first and then increase the weight as you get stronger.
5. Forget Complex, Over-the-Top Exercises
If you’ve got an Instagram account, you already know the types of exercises I’m talking about: the ones that require three different movements, two supersets and an iso-hold just to finish one “exercise.” You don’t need all that!
In fact, your favorite insta-fitness gurus didn’t get their enviable bodies by performing those exercises either. They started out with the basics, the tried and true exercises, and then started branching out and getting a bit more creative.
Stick with compound exercises like the squat, bench press, deadlift, pull-up, lunge, and bent-row. All exercises that work multiple muscle groups at once - this is best for both muscle growth and fat loss.
6. Engage the Mind-Muscle Connection
If you’ve never heard of the mind-muscle connection before, get familiar with it now! Here’s the deal: by focusing on the muscle(s) you want to use in a given exercise, you actually compel them to workharder.
It might take time to really get in tune with and learn to feel your muscles working, but the better you can visualize the muscles working and find this feeling, the less you zone out during your workout and just go through the motions.