You want to start lifting weights but have no idea where to start. Maybe you are young and looking to get in shape so you can look good on the beach. Perhaps you are in your 30’s or 40’s and looking for a lifestyle change. Whatever the reason, there are some psychological hurdles you should overcome before you step foot into a gym.
1. CLEAR YOUR BRAIN OF ALL YOU PRE-CONCEIVED NOTIONS:
You don’t realize it, but you have an opinion about gyms or people who lift weights. One particular gym chain uses this as their marketing strategy (“I lift things up and put them down”). Some people see a guy with big muscles, and instantly think that he is vain or a meat head. Others see that same guy, and say it would be cool to be in great shape, but you could never do that. Whatever you think, stop it now.
2. ACKNOWLEDGE AND EMBRACE THE BENEFITS OF LIFTING WEIGHTS
Lifting weights can have enormous benefits that will impact your entire life. It will increase you strength and stamina. Your body will become aesthetically impressive. You will realize that some of the aches and pains you experience daily go away. All of these factors will have a profound impact on how you feel day-to-day, which will improve your mental well-being as well.
3. DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE GYM
A gym is an intimidating place. There will be power lifters, body builders, fitness models. Some guys grunt and yell and then slam their weights down. Some girls with model-esque bodies will be running on a treadmill in a sports bra showing off their flat stomachs and abs. On the flip side, there will be skinny guys trying to get bigger, overweight people trying to lose weight, older people trying to stay healthy, couples working out together as bonding time. Essentially, all gyms feature a variety of people from all walks of life. Realize that a gym is not a terrifying place where pro body builders go to flex and intimidate “girly-men” or models go to make fun of girls not as skinny as them. It is a place to go and improve your health and well-being.
4. LEAVE YOUR EGO AT THE DOOR
This was the best advice anyone ever gave me. When I started lifting weights, I was 5’8” and 140 pounds soaking wet. I could barely bench press the 45 pound bar. Like any other man filled with testosterone, I would try to overcompensate and load up more weight than I could handle so I didn’t feel so weak compared to other guys. One of the gym’s personal trainers came up to me, suggested I lessen the weight and focus on form. He then said to me words that never left my brain, “leave your ego at the door. There are always going to be people at the gym who are bigger and stronger than you, so never compare yourself to anyone else.”
5. COMMIT TO AT LEAST 6 MONTHS
After 3 months of weight lifting, you will start to see some results. You may start to see some definition or maybe feel stronger. After 6 months of weight lifting, you will begin to see your body changing. You will notice your shoulders are wider or your arms have definition. Maybe you love handles disappear or the flubber that was your second chin in gone. You will start to realize that all of a sudden, moving furniture isn’t that big of a deal or you don’t mind walking up and down extra flights of steps. Once you hit this 6 month mark, you will likely not want to turn back.
One you get through these five steps, the next two are the most important.
There is so much more to lifting weights than you can imagine. For example, did you know that you have to work out your back muscles regularly? If you did, did you know that there are four distinct muscle groups in your back you need to work out? Not to mention four parts of your chest, three parts on your arms, five parts of your chest, and four parts of your legs?
This is why education is so important. If you want to be a pro body builder, you will work out all of those individual muscle groups. If you just want a general increase in strength, you don’t’ need to focus on all of those parts rigorously. Regardless, it is very helpful to learn about the different muscles of the human body so you know yourself and what you are doing at the gym better. The best two sources for this are bodybuilding.com, which features an interactive body map where you can actually click on a part of the body and see exercises that work out that specific muscle. The other is the Arnold Schwarzenegger Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding. The information it has is timeless. It shows you every body part, exercises to work out each body part, as well as information on body types, workout routines, and helpful photographs.
7. HARD WORK
Getting into weight lifting will change your life for the better. But you need to realize that it is hard work that will require commitment. You will need to lift weights at least 3-4 days a week, every week for months before you start seeing results. However, whether you are learning to play an instrument, start a new job, or anything else, there is always the initial awkward “figuring out things” phase. Commit to getting through the awkward phase because once you do you will never look back.
With these seven things in mind, you are ready to hit a gym, start lifting weights, and change your life for the better.