If you are a woman, you may feel intimidated when starting out strength training in a gym. Most of the gyms not only have lots of different machines but also they are always full of muscular men who seem to be crushing everything they come across.
Many women who go to gyms can attest to this and hence, you should have worries if you are planning to start strength training workouts. If you are willing to go an extra mile beyond your comfort zone, you will be on the right path to great fitness progress.
Most gyms are divided into different sections which include cardio area, group fitness room, weights area, and locker rooms. You may find gyms with other things like pools, racquetball, or special rooms for machine training.
It’s not something new to request for a tour when you visit a gym for the first time. It is actually recommended that you get a guide who can show you around so that you don’t miss something important.
As you walk around a gym, you will find lots of different equipment such as cardio and weight machines equipment. You will find different types of barbells and of course with different sizes. In addition, you will find training bars that are specifically designed for women and you should know about them if you are a woman.
Finding the right gym
It is important for you as a beginner to pick the right gym because you will be spending lots of time there and will also be interacting with the gym members.
You should look for a gym that fits your needs to avoid ending up in the wrong place. However, it is not a must that you visit a gym to get in shape or strength train.
You can use other options like making your own basement gym or concentrate on bodyweight training.
In case you prefer performing barbell training and don’t have enough space to build your own gym, the best option is to get in a gym near you.
Before you pick a gym, make a list of what you want to achieve. Some of the basic things you need to take into consideration are the equipment available, classes, amenities, distance, training/coaching and the rules.
You also need to know the cost of having a gym membership and preferably apply for those within your budget. Gyms charge different amounts depending on the amenities offered.
Remember that you get what you pay for but that does not mean you choose the highest cost gym.
There are many different types of gyms available and hence, choose the one that suits your needs. Examples of gyms you will find are Globo gyms, locally owned gyms, sports clubs/health clubs, weightlifting club and college/university gyms. Once you figure out the type of gym to want, make a list of everything that you will need.
Request for a guest passes before you enroll in a gym. There are gyms that offer free passes for one or two weeks but some may charge you. Even if a gym charges a small amount for a guest pass, it’s worthy because you will get a clearer picture of how the gym operates.
Make an effort to visit the gym you intend you sign up for membership at the time you will be going. This is because it can be worse for you if you choose a certain time when most of the members are in the gym.
There may be even no adequate space due to the huge crowd present. It can even get worse if you cannot get the equipment you want you to use.
How to get started with strength training
Strength training is recommended on a regular basis but starting a workout can be difficult. The first thing you need to do is to know the kind of strength training you should do.
You need to look at the type of equipment that is available and what goals you intend to achieve. Here are some of the options you can take into account.
If your desire is to engage in bodyweight training, you require minimal or no equipment and training can be done anywhere you want. It does not matter whether you are in your office, in a hotel or at home.
You just need ample space to move around as you do your workouts. Feel free to grab a pull-up bar if performing bodyweight training.
For beginners, look for an exercise band that will assist you to make movements such as dips and pulls ups.
Consequently, you can do bodyweight training without using any equipment. The main drawback with bodyweight training is that you need to modify your exercises to difficult levels so that you can progress upwards.
The dumbbell is equipment that is used in strength training and great for start outs. Dumbbells are available in almost all gyms in different sizes and you can even have them in your apartment if you desire to train at home.
They are relatively cheap to buy and come in sets that are easily adjustable to consume less space.
Dumbbell training is less intimidating compared to barbell exercises for beginners. A dumbbell allows you to easily add a little amount of weight to a certain movement. Doing dumbbells can help you pint point muscle imbalances easily and gives you a stabilization challenge.
If you are doing reps, it is easier to lower a dumbbell compared to dropping a barbell. This information is very useful especially if you are a newbie that is learning the movements.
One main drawback of using dumbbells at home is that you might outgrow the set you bought from a shop and getting heavy dumbbells can be quite expensive.
The best thing you can do which is cheaper is visiting a gym with dumbbells that have probably more than one hundred pounds.
If your main goal is to increase your strength, you should do barbell training. Barbell exercises can help you to progress very fast and you can gradually add small weight loads every week to increase your muscle power.
A barbell is usually stable because you are using two hands to lift and hence, you can easily lift heavy weight loads particularly for lower body movements such as deadlifts and squats.
If you are performing exercises such as the press or the squat, ensure you use racks so as to load and offload heavyweight in a safe manner.
There are some important points that you should be aware of when designing a machine workout that will help you begin your weightlifting exercises.
Make sure you keep everything simple
The first thing you should remember as a beginner is to keep your workout as simple as you can.
Your main goal as a beginner is to stimulate your muscles to get used to the weightlifting stress as you prepare for more advanced workouts.
You will find out that your body will adapt so fast even when doing basic exercises because you are new to weightlifting programs.
Therefore, your progress will happen so fast and you can use these changes as motivation.
Using machine strength training is fantastic because the equipment will help you to move through the right patterns without causing a lot of stress.
Therefore, you should not worry about being in the proper form as experienced in free weights exercises. Using machine exercise will make you feel comfortable while exercising in the gym.
Avoid pushing too hard
This should not mean that you don’t work hard in the gym. You can work hard but avoid pushing it far beyond your zone of comfort.
This is because you may have a negative attitude towards strength training if you always leave the gym while feeling so exhausted.
As a beginner, you would not want to feel bad after every workout you perform in the gym. Instead, you should get out of a gym feeling excited and energized and thinking about your next workout.
Avoid putting yourself to the limit and save those extreme workouts for another time once you establish a strong training base.
Concentrate on the form
If you are a lady who is doing strength training for the first time, your main goal is not to lift as much as you can but focus on doing your personal best.
Ensure you are always comfortable with the exercises and also make sure you are performing them correctly.
Using a machine can help you perform your exercises the right way but there are other things you need to take into account.
Your trainer can assist you with other things that you should consider. For example, when performing machine exercises like shoulder press, chest press and leg press, ensure your back is always pressed flat on the bench or back pad.
Another thing you should remember is don’t hyperextend your elbows or knees when doing the horizontal row, leg extension, shoulder press, triceps press-down or horizontal chest press.
Ensure you rest after every workout you engage in because it is very important in all training programs. Some beginners usually see no need for resting and this shouldn’t be the case for you.
To ensure your body gets enough time to rest, you skip at least one day in between each of your machine strength training sessions.
For newbies, it is recommended that you rest for about two days because your body has a slower recovery system compared to those who have a solid training base.
Therefore, make sure that your body has recovered fully in order to feel great every time you go to the gym.
You will see fitness improvements and also increase in lean muscles as long as you are performing strength training workouts at least two times per week.
It can even be great if you can have three workout sessions each week but avoid forcing yourself if you feel exhausted.
Most women often do not strength train the right way. This is true to some extent because you can get into a gym and find out the women lift nothing heavier than a puny dumbbell.
Most women like performing triceps kickbacks and dumbbell curls with lightweight weight loads. Therefore, they will never lift enough weight to give them a greater training effect.
How to train with heavy weight loads
The proper method to achieve strength training is training with heavy loads along with the right exercises. To improve on your fitness, you need to lift heavy dumbbells so that your body can generate lean muscles.
The best exercises that can help you gain strength on your lower body include split squat, dumbbell lunge, barbell deadlift and barbell squat. To improve on your upper body pushing and pressing, do push-ups, incline bench press, handstand push-up, dumbbell shoulder press and military press.
Another thing you should take into account to increase your strength is to use proper intensity when training.
High-intensity exercises can help you increase your strength levels. Everyone has different strength levels and it’s up to you to determine what you can do best.
For example, if you are doing eight reps, the last rep is usually tough for you but you should complete one more for maximum intensity.
In other words, once you complete your usual sets you need to do one or two extra reps to challenge your muscles.
As a beginner, you shouldn’t be concerned about adding weight. Weightlifting on a regular basis for women is beneficial because it can lower the risk of osteoporosis, increase metabolism, and protect muscle mass.
Generally, women have a lesser muscle mass compared to men but there is nothing to worry about. You should focus on mastering your from by performing two to three workouts each week that target about nine muscles. Ensure you work your muscles from the largest to the smallest.
Once you complete your workouts, stretch all the muscles that have been worked and drink plenty of water. Ensure you include off days after doing your cardio to help in quick recovery.