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Beginners Guide to the Gym

It can be difficult stepping into the gym and seeing a variety of equipment and all the people there; understandably, you might feel intimated. However, we want you to feel confident when you step into the gym, which is why we launched Before the Barbell. We designed this eight-week strength training intensive to take unsure gym newbies to confident lifters!

We recently asked some of our followers – who are gym newbies or have never touched a barbell – about what holds them back from getting in the gym and training. And while we got all kinds of answers, most of them fell into three categories:

  1. They feel unsure about what to do once they get to the gym

  2. They feel worried about injuring themselves/having bad form

  3. They’re held back by their mindset (scared, anxious, nervous, etc.)

Megsquats takes us through combating gym anxiety in this video if you need help with your mindset.

We've got you covered if you have any of those same feelings! We have a post highlighting the many reasons to get on a program (be sure to go back and check it out if you haven’t already). Today we’ll tackle feeling worried about injuries while lifting and having lousy form.

Worried About Lifting Form?

We understand your concerns about having bad form when lifting— it can lead to injuries or maybe you feel embarrassed in front of others. Those concerns are valid, but we’ll help you work through them!

“I’m worried I’ll embarrass myself with bad form.”

You imagine walking into a gym, performing a movement incorrectly, and someone laughs. This scenario may have happened somewhere at some gym, but most of the time, this won’t be the case. People probably aren’t staring at you; they’re at the gym to get a good workout, just like you!

“I’m worried I’ll hurt myself with bad form.”

You’ve heard the stories or maybe personally know someone who has gotten injured. The best thing you can do is start slow, be mindful of your movements, and learn how to fail a lift correctly. Make sure you get the basics down before moving on to heavier weights! We offer a program for complete gym newbies called Before the Barbell. This program is designed to take you from a complete beginner to feeling confident under a barbell.

Focus on yourself and not others at the gym.

This is a challenging idea to accept. Do not let your thoughts be consumed by what people think of you. You are working out for YOU! Before walking into the gym, decide to do your best and focus on the training aspect. While you’re in the gym, be sure your thoughts are encouraging. Give reminders like:

“I’m doing my best!”

“I’m here to improve myself!”

“I’m proud of myself!”

“Everyone has to start somewhere!”

We know it might sound silly if you’re not used to the idea, but positive self-talk is super important and will help you push through worrying about what other people think of you.

Ask for help.

Most people that lift genuinely love it and enjoy being able to help others, especially gym newbies. Sometimes we hear from beginners that people are looking at them in the gym, and often it’s because someone is trying to catch your attention to either offer up a tip or ask to share a machine. If you approach the gym with an open demeanor, you’ll likely be able to connect with more experienced lifters who want to help!

Find a competent lifter to watch.

This can happen inside or outside of the gym (or both)! Find lifters on YouTube to watch (might we suggest Megsquats) and a lifter or trainer at the gym demonstrating movements to their clients. Then, watch and replicate the movement yourself, especially in front of a mirror. You might not get it right away, but you will get better the more sets and repetition you do. That’s why we keep showing up to the gym week after week, to get better every day!

Start with light weights.

One of the most important elements of improving weightlifting technique is progression. You’re not going to walk into the gym and be the next world champion weightlifter or powerlifter. You might be one day, but you gotta start with the basics. Don’t let your ego dictate the amount of weight you’re lifting; it won’t be very high at the beginning. Start with your body weight or an empty barbell at first (depending on the movement). Once you master the form with light weights, it’s much easier to start progressing and adding more weight. And there’s no rush! By incrementally adding on weight, you give yourself a chance to get more and more comfortable from one training session to the next.

Find a weightlifting program and coach that teaches you.

If you like the ideas we’ve been sharing, you can join our community of like-minded individuals who all started where you are right now. We want to guide you past uncertainty so you can become a confident lifter! This is why we created Before the Barbell at no cost to everyone. In the eight-week strength training intensive, we equip you with all the tools you need to put these fears behind you. We give you educational videos, a program to follow, GIFs of every movement, and a host of resources.

Taking that First Step

Hopefully, we’ve guided you toward taking those first steps in your weightlifting journey. You can start with Before the Barbell and graduate to our strength training program, Stronger by the Day. It can be tough starting and getting past those initial fears and worries, but each day will improve if you focus on yourself and what you’re there to accomplish.

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