Being new at a gym can be a bit unsettling, you may not know what to do, much less how to do it but following the advice here should get you started on the right foot.
Gyms are generally divided into the cardio section and the weights section. What you want to achieve determines how much time you should spend in each. In other words if you’re looking to be more muscular, you’ll find yourself spending the majority of your time in the weights section. If your goal is to lose weight, then you’ll spend most of the time doing cardio. These are just simple examples, in order to know what kind of programs you should follow I highly recommend you do your research on bodybuilding.com.
If your goal is to get a six pack, I’ve written a detailed no BS article on the truth behind getting a six pack.
What should I do?
Before you start any programme, you should familiarise yourself both with your new gym and with exercising in general. Your biggest priority is learning how to exercise safely, a lot of people go to the gym without the faintest idea what to do and end up with injuries. It’s a worthwhile investment to spend money on a personal trainer to help you understand how to use the machines and perform exercises correctly. If that isn’t something within your budget then you can ask the staff at the gym to help you out too.
Note: Feel free to ask other gym members for advice, most regulars are more than happy to help out someone new. That said; never interrupt them whilst they are in the middle of performing an exercise.
A word on weights
Having made the decision to come to the gym I understand you’ll no doubt be motivated and want to make progress straight away, but taking time to get used to exercising will pay off in the long run by preventing you from getting injured.
For one week at least start off by using weights that are LIGHTER than what you can handle. Your goals (size, mass or strength) will influence how many reps you’ll need to do per set but a good starting point is 10-12 reps per set. Select a weight that will allow you to perform 12 reps with proper form with moderate strain. In the beginning you may not know how much that weight is, so pick one you think is lighter than what you can handle and go from there.
Reps and sets
You’ll often hear those 2 terms in the fitness community. Put simply a rep, or repetition, is one complete motion of an exercise. If you’re doing dumbbell curls and you lift the dumbbell once, you’ve done one rep. A set is simply a number of reps. Therefore doing 2 sets of 10 reps means doing 10 repetitions, resting, and then doing 10 repetitions again.
Form can be considered as the technique behind doing an exercise. Lifting weights with good form maximises the effectiveness of each exercise and also lessens your chance of being injured. Then why would anyone want to lift with wrong form? Because lifting with wrong form means you can lift a heavier weight. Yes in lifting with poor form you put on less muscle and you’re more likely to be injured but for some people it’s all about showing off to others.
Don’t be that idiot, when you feel you cannot lift a weight, don’t. Remember at the end of the day is your goal to lift weights or put on muscle?
You can learn how to perform exercises correctly by asking your personal trainer, the staff at the gym, or by browsing the bodybuilding.com exercise database. I recommend the first 2 options because having someone that knows how to properly perform an exercise with you as you do it means they can correct your mistakes as you make them.
Lastly, don’t worry about what people think
Everybody was once new to the gym, and we all struggled with learning how to set machines correctly or how much weight to lift at some point. You shouldn’t feel uncomfortable about looking like you don’t know what to do because at some point every person in the gym was in your position. Ask others for help, in most cases they’ll gladly help you.
Also if you feel too fat/ too skinny/ too old that’s not a reason to be worried. The fact you’re in the gym proves you’ve made the decision to improve yourself and that’s something people respect. Remember people respect and admire hard work.
Good luck on your first day and don’t give up! If you’ve got any questions feel free to send me a message, I’ll be glad to help you.