So, you’ve joined the gym and you are going a few times per week but have absolutely no idea what to do. You probably feel overwhelmed and out of place. You’re also probably a little self conscious and afraid to try the workouts you see everyone else doing. You feel like you might screw them up and look like an idiot.
Well, I used to feel the same way. You are not alone. However, once I learned a few things and gained some confidence all those fears quickly disappeared and I was focused on myself. I started to care less and less what other people in the gym thought about me. There’s so much to learn when you first start lifting. Trust me I know it can be overwhelming, but hopefully with these few tips you will have an idea of what to do as soon as you walk in the door. That way you can maximize your time in the gym and as a result maximize your gains as well.
I’ve decided to to dedicate an entire post for people who just started lifting or working out and are a little confused. My goal with this Gym Guide for Beginners segment is to push you in the right direction and give you some motivation to stay consistent. Hopefully by clearing up some myths and giving you some insight, you will start seeing some results and continue bettering your physique.
Read the tips then scroll down for a detailed workout routine.
Tips for Beginner’s:
Tip #1 Have a Plan – Don’t go to the gym without a plan. Decide what you are going to do before you even get to the gym. Think about it in the car on the way, at school, at work or at home before you even step foot in the gym. Say to yourself: “Today I’m going to work on chest and triceps”. Now you have an idea of they kinds of things you are going to be working on. Stick to your plan and don’t try to do other things. Focus on what you set out to do and concentrate on those muscles.
It will make a big difference in your workout. You will have one less thing to worry about and won’t feel so overwhelmed. Once you walk in with your game plan in mind do a little warm up and stretch out the muscles you are going to work on. This will give you time to think over what lifts you plan on doing (see below for a beginner’s routine).
Tip #2 Don’t be Nervous – I’ve found that a lot of people get really nervous and self conscious when they first start going to the gym. I was that guy too. Don’t worry, you are not the only one. However, I quickly learned that no one really cared what I was doing. Not everyone is looking at you like you think they might be. No matter how skinny, fat, attractive or ugly you may feel, I’ll be the first to tell you that no one gives a shit. If they do, I also found that they just want to help you improve.
Most gym junkies like me, love to help people get into fitness and health. Especially lifting. We usually enjoy it so much, that we could talk about it all day (like this blog…). So, if you are confused or need a spot, 99% of the time they will always want to help you. Otherwise, they really aren’t to give you a second thought so there is no need to be nervous or apprehensive.
Tip #3 Less Machines – Keep in mind I’m saying: less machines. Machines can be useful, but they aren’t as good as you probably think they are. I always see new guys in the gym floating from machine to machine. This is 9 times of 10 a mistake. They usually don’t know what to do, so they walk from machine to machine and look at the picture. If it says it’s a chest machine, they’ll do a few sets (at random) then jump to the next machine that has a chest label.
Don’t get me wrong, machines can be a great tool and can often be implemented into your workout effectively. However, you will see more results by using free-weights in your routine. Everyone who is new to lifting is always afraid of the free-weight section, as if it’s only for the most advanced lifters. Often times if they do venture over there, they will do a few curls and that’s it. This is simply not the case. Free weights are often considered the most effective weights and exercises to gain muscle. Since you have to balance the weight, you are working your muscles in a different way than you get on a machine –a better way. If you do more free-weights you’ll see an improvement in strength in a matter of weeks.
Tip #4 Less Weight – But I need to do a lot of weight to gain lots of muscle!”. WRONG. This is simply untrue. A common mistake for most beginners is: more weight = more gains. While there are routines for more advanced lifters that require more weight, beginner lifters will benefit more from doing less weight and getting the right form down. Don’t try to rush into obtaining your ideal physique. As much as you want it to happen over night, it’s not going to. You will do much more harm than good for your body if you start out trying to look strong and impress people with poor form, rather than building a solid foundation with good form and low weight. By doing less weight you will be able to perform the lift properly and really focus on the desired muscles. This is what stimulates muscles growth. If you continue slowly adding weight and keeping your form, you’ll see better results.
Tip #5 Be Consistent – The single and most important step in achieving your fitness goals is consistency. Building an awesome body takes time. A lot of time. Try to hit the gym 3 times a week minimum and stick to it. The sooner you start to implement going to the gym in your daily routine, the sooner it becomes a part of your lifestyle. You will start to love the gym in every aspect. That is how you gain, you have to want it. Being consistent is the first step in showing yourself how bad you want it.
More importantly, not only do you need to go to the gym consistently but you have to train hard consistently. Don’t waste your time in the gym. Don’t train hard on chest day but slack on leg day or train hard one day but not the next. I see so many newcomers, smashing arms and chest because they want those to be look good. Then they will neglect their legs, back, and abs because they aren’t that interested or don’t consider them important. One of the biggest tips I can give you is: be consistent. If you are consistent, eventually you will see the results.
Beginner’s Gym Routine:
Monday – Chest and Triceps:
- Incline Dumbbell Chest Press – (3 sets) 8-10 reps
- Flat Dumbbell Chest Press – (4 sets) 8-10 reps
- Dumbbell Flys -(3 sets) 8-10 reps
- Rope Pull Downs – (4 sets) 8-10 reps
- Dumbbell Triceps Extension (3 sets) 8-10 reps
- Dips (5 sets) until failure
Tuesday – REST
Wednesday – Legs/Abs:
- Lunges (4 sets) 20 reps
- Leg Press (4 sets) 8-10 reps
- Leg Extension (3 sets) until failure
- Leg Curls (3 sets) 8-10 reps
- Crunches (3 sets) 30 reps
- Leg raises (3 sets) 15 reps
Thursday – Back/Biceps/Shoulders:
- Dumbbell Row (3 sets) 8-10 reps
- Barbell Row (3 sets) 8-10 reps
- Lat Pull Downs (4 sets) 8-10 reps
- Preacher Curls (4 sets) 8-10 reps
- Dumbbell Curls (3 sets) 8-10 reps
- Dumbbell Shoulder Press (3 sets) 8-10 reps
- Front Raises (3 sets) 10-12 reps
- Deltoid Fly (3 sets) 10-12 reps
Friday – REST
Saturday – REST (or cardio if you are trying to loose weight)
Sunday – REST
I’ve provided links to some workouts I feel may need clarifying. If you are still unsure, Google the name of the workout and look for an instructional video or page.
Hopefully after reading this post, you got a better feel of what to do in the gym and how to get started. The biggest thing is consistency. Results take time. If you stay consistent and train hard you will see results. Don’t rush into getting obtaining your ideal physique and mess up your body. Build a solid foundation and do it the right way, so you can continue lifting long into the future.