Generally, when we show people around the centre, we see two types of reaction: eyes full of excitement and eagerness to get under a bar or absolute fear. More often than not, unfortunately, it’s the latter but whatever your goal, lifting weights will be key to your success, so here’s our guide on how to face the fear in the weightlifting area.
Understand the importance of weight lifting in any training program – For both women and men, regardless of your age, weight lifting has many positive effects, some of which we list below:
• Leads to better posture, it can improve common postural pain often caused by poor workplace ergonomics.
• Increases bone density, helping to reduce the risk of conditions such as osteoporosis, particularly prevalent in women and older people.
• Increases lean muscle mass, helping you reach your goal faster and more efficiently.
• Reduces risk of injury, keeping strong and healthy will ultimately lead to less injuries, meaning that you can stick to your training program without having to take large breaks unexpectedly.
• Short term boosts of the endocrine system particularly in men, leading to increased levels of testosterone, linked to higher muscle growth.
• Positive effects on mental health, libido and overall wellbeing.
• Helps raise BMR (basal metabolic rate) leading to higher daily calorie expenditure.
• Makes training programs varied and exciting and provides tangible results.
Pick your times – If lifting weights seems daunting for you, ask reception or trainers which times are the best. In every gym, there will be peak times where racks will be busy and crowded but there will also be low times where equipment and space will be readily available.
Use a personal trainer – the use of a professional is the safest way to get started in weight lifting; understanding the bio mechanics, correct technique and principle of steady overload will lead to more efficient training and will reduce the risk of injury.
Get a gym buddy – If you’re feeling unsure, find a friend who has similar goals to you and can share your fitness journey with you. If you don’t know anyone, ask at reception as they may also be aware of people who are in the same boat and are looking for a gym buddy.
Bring your headphones – spend some time choosing your favourite songs so that you can listen as you go, this will help you “get in the zone” and may help you take less notice of your surroundings.
Keep it simple – Don’t over-complicate your training program, start with what you know. Starting with the basics is crucial to building a good base to improve on. Even those who are advanced in weight lifting sometimes strip back to basics. Adding weight to an exercise which is being performed incorrectly can lead to injury or soreness in places that aren’t the target muscle group.
Don’t try to impress – “Go big or go home” does not apply in the weight lifting area, know your limits and build on them slowly. We’ve all been there, “got psyched up”, “done a big sesh” and paid the price the next day. DOMs (muscle soreness) can last some time and may prevent you from following your training program efficiently, so take each session at your own pace.
Create SMART goals that you can stick to – set yourself goals, both long term and short term and track where possible. For those unfamiliar with a SMART goal, here’s a quick example:
• Perform a dead-lift at body weight by March 2020 – why is this a SMART goal?
• It’s specific, we all understand how to perform a dead-lift and it’s one thing to measure rather than a vague goal such as “do a heavy dead-lift”.
• It’s measurable, I know how much I weigh and I know how much I put on the barbell each time, so I understand what I am working towards.
• It’s achievable, lifting at body weight on compound exercises is a good goal to work towards to and not unachievable for my age, physical conditions, injury history, etc.
• It’s realistic, of course I would love to lift 1000kg, who wouldn’t? But this isn’t realistic. This part of a SMART goal applies especially to those setting weight loss targets. Saying I want to weigh 40kg, is just not realistic (or healthy).
• It’s time based, I’ve set a time limit and I can then work backwards to know which milestones I need to hit at each stage to achieve my goal in the time-frame set.
Make it regular and allow yourself enough time – set yourself a plan and try to train at regular intervals, don’t leave months between each session. It’s important, in the early stages of training, to allow yourself enough time to perform exercises at your own pace and rest where needed.
If in doubt, ask – don’t be scared, if you’re not sure what a piece of equipment is for, have questions on your technique or simply need a little help, ask the staff around the gym, that’s what they are there for, to encourage and help you on your journey.