How to Approach Weight Lifting For Beginners


There’s a whole myriad of reasons to begin lifting weights – and there’s probably just as many reasons why guys fear weight lifting for the first time.

It’s understandable. Every gym is full of seasoned weight-lifters – intimidating gents with muscles protruding in every direction. The stereotype doesn’t help either. Ostensibly, body builders are overly-macho, testosterone-fueled ego-maniacs.

But the reality of the situation is that your local gym is filled with guys who would be glad to help you out. Health and fitness are important to them and they usually love passing along a little knowledge. You just have to ask.

Fear of the unknown aside, there are more important considerations when hitting the weights for the first time.

Start Slow

man holding shoulder in painIt’s so easy to get caught up in a new commitment to fitness that first-timers too often approach the weight room with too much zeal. Drive and determination are certainly important, but starting slow is one of the most important things you can do.

If you’re working out with weights for the first time, you simply don’t need to spend a great amount of time in the gym to feel the effects of muscle-overload – the primary goal of weight lifting.

Your muscles aren’t likely used to the demand of extreme resistance. Even if you work in a tough manual labor environment, weights will stimulate your muscles in new and different ways than you’re used to.

The primary mistake of individuals hitting the gym for the first time is going too hard too soon. There’s good pain and bad pain and stressing your muscles too fast usually leads to the latter.

Rhabdomyolysis is the destruction of muscle cells. It’s common in beginning weight lifting and CroffFit. Experienced weight-lifters purposely try to break muscle down but it’s a difficult thing for these individuals to destroy muscle cells because they’re bodies have adapted to the sport of weight lifting, so they’re able to push much harder. Your muscles will adapt over the weeks and months as well – but they aren’t conditioned to withstand an over-abundance of stress when starting out. Don’t get caught up in the game of trying to keep up with other guys in the gym. Leave the ego at the door.

How hard should you go? Not very. There’s really no reason to do more than a couple sets per muscle group when hitting the iron for the first time – and if you’ve been living life as a couch potato, you might even consider one set for each group. The goal should be to create some mild soreness in the next couple days – not so much pain that you can barely lift an arm to turn the steering wheel on your car.

Primary muscle groups to workout include your chest, back, shoulders and legs. Skip the bicep curls, tricep and calf exercises when starting out and ease into them after a few weeks. You’ll notice that these muscles are plenty sore after working your major muscle groups – they get plenty of blood flow without the need to isolate them.

Beware of the Training Partner

Guys who workout a lot love to train other guys. Find a good partner and you’ve found gold. Some guys are great at understanding how to train another. Unfortunately, there’s also a fair share of guys who believe that everyone should be taught to go hard – right from the start.

[quote_right]Go hard or go home!
…unless you’re new to lifting.[/quote_right]The bad training partner is an experienced lifter who has forgotten what it was like in those first few weeks of lifting – way back when. Oh sure, he’ll warn you that “you’re going to be hurting tomorrow” as he laughs and pushes you all the harder – but therein lies the problem.

You don’t need to be pushed in that first week or two in the gym. You don’t need to be trained to lift weights in the same way as an experienced lifter – until you become an experienced lifter.

Form is another factor. It requires time to become efficient at weight-lifting movements. Developing proper form can take a weeks and even months. If you’re not lifting the weight correctly, you’re getting minimal benefit.

Make sure and talk to your training partner well ahead of time, ensuring him that you want to ease into lifting as slowly as possible. There’s no benefit in completely destroying your muscles the first few times out.

Additionally, don’t encourage that big muscle-head in the gym to push you – not just yet anyway.

Lifting weights is an exceptional form of fitness. Everyone should partake and reap the benefits. It’s the absolute best way to add muscle to your body and it’s the best way to retain muscle if you’re simply trying to lose body fat.

But be smart. Start slow and ease into your training.

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