For many of us, stepping into the weights room at the gym seems like a daunting prospect. You know it’s good for us to get stronger, and that those who lift weights tend to look and feel awesome, but you might not know just how to start. And with all those eyes on you as you approach the squat rac
So where do you begin when it comes to using weights? We’ve come up with the perfect solution to get you confident and get you lifting.
1. Have the right mentality
Before you can attempt any physical challenge, first make sure your mind is ready. Your body hears everything your mind says; so if you’re telling it that it can’t lift weights, it can’t. The way around this is simple: assess what you perceive to be your roadblocks, and squash them. Perhaps you’re a woman, and aren’t keen to start lifting because you’re afraid of becoming too “bulky”, or maybe you’re afraid you’ll become injured through weight training.
2. Master the basics
Surf the internet for five minutes, you’ll find all sorts of movements you could be doing using weights. But if you’re new to the experience, make sure you’re absolutely comfortable with the basics before staring anything acrobatic.
Becoming confident in the squat, press up, deadlift and overhead press will stand you in great stead to begin with. Learn how to move your own body before you start to load it up with heavy weights, and you’ll move on to advanced movements in your own time.
3. Check your form
Form is permanent — in fact, it’s the most important element of weight training, and will ensure you remain injury-free as you progress. As a beginner, it’s best to start with a trainer or a class* to help you master the movements before you go it alone.
4. Increase gradually
Once you’ve finally got underneath a barbell, or experienced your first kettle bell swing, it can be tempting to push as hard as you can as soon as you can. Exercise some restraint, and make sure you’re at least 100 percent confident with the weight and form you’re using before you progress it.
A trainer will help you to know how to progress and how soon, but if you’re on your own, a good rule of thumb is to stick at a weight you can complete the prescribed number of reps with two or three “in the tank” (you could do another two or so reps with good form). If you feel you could do more than this, perhaps it’s time to increase. But don’t jump from 10kg to 100! Gradual increases are key to keep good form and cultivate a permanent strength gain.
5. Have fun!
Your exercise regime, whatever you choose for it to be, should be an enjoyable experience, and one that you look forward to. Train with a friend, a trainer, or a group if you’re a sociable person. If you prefer some solitude while you train, put on a playlist that makes you feel great while you lift.