I was at the gym the other day and couldn’t help but notice I was the only woman there lifting weights. I figured it might have just been that day, but as I started to pay more attention day after day, it became clear that the other women in the gym rarely ventured into the free weight section and would stick to the cardio machines. As I reflected on this, I realized there are likely two main reasons for women, or anyone who avoids lifting for that matter, to do so: 1) Lack of knowledge and/or 2) lack of confidence. People often have misconceptions about weightlifting or don’t understand the importance.
People are afraid they will “bulk up,” get injured, or believe they are just too old. Others might know they should be doing it, but don’t know where to start. Unless you played on a sports team that incorporated lifting or were fortunate enough to take a weightlifting class in school, most people have never formerly been taught how to properly lift.
It can be intimidating to walk into a gym and have no idea where to start, but resistance training is such an important part of any workout regimen and overall healthy lifestyle at any age! Building muscle increases strength, power, and helps with weight loss and weight maintenance by increasing metabolism. A strong core and back promote good posture and make daily motions like lifting, pushing, and pulling easier. A strong lower body improves your ability to walk, run, and go up steps. Lean muscle mass helps your burn more calories which is essential for weight loss and maintaining your weight.
Strength training can also help prevent the natural muscle loss that occurs as we age. Whether your goals are weight loss or simply improving your health, it is so important to work your muscles! Below are some tips and thoughts to help you get started with a resistance training routine.
Work with a personal trainer: If you do not know how to properly lift or what to lift, that’s ok! Most gyms have trainers on staff to help with exactly that! Some include a complimentary session as part of your membership, so you can meet with someone and get a quick overview. If it’s not in the budget to work with a trainer regularly, talk to your gym to see if they offer weight lifting classes or if you can work with a trainer a few times until you feel comfortable on your own.
Take a weightlifting class! Learning proper form is so important, not only to ensure you are getting optimum benefits, but also to reduce the risk of injury. Some gyms offer classes where you meet as a group and learn how to lift. After a couple of weeks or months in a class like this, you should feel confident walking into the weight area of the gym!
Find a Friend! Most people have a friend or family member that works out regularly. See if you could go workout with them a few times as you start to get more comfortable in the gym. They may even enjoy the change up to their routine and getting the opportunity to help someone out! I always love working out with new people whether they are more or less advanced than me. It gives me the opportunity to evaluate my routine and mix things up! You could also find another novice friend to go with you as support, but you will still want to make sure you are learning the proper form as you go!
Take a group exercise class! A lot of gyms offer classes as part of the membership or as an easy add-on. Pick a class that incorporates resistance training with body weight exercises (push-ups, burpees, squats) or uses dumbbells, kettlebells, or resistance bands. These are a great alternative to the weight machines that still allow you to work on building up your strength! Boot camps, kickboxing, and other circuit style classes are great for working the whole body and getting some cardio at the same time!
Find a home routine! If you truly fear the gym, don’t let that hold you back! There are endless home workout videos out there! You can find free ones or subscribe to online training sites that act as a personal trainer. Find a routine that works for your lifestyle and space, and get the equipment needed to be able to work those muscles in the comfort of your own home!
It really doesn’t matter which route you choose to go, the important thing is finding a way to safely and regularly incorporate strength training into your routine. Don’t let fear or lack of knowledge hold you back! There are so many incredible resources out there. And if you truly don’t feel comfortable at your gym, then it might be time to find a new one! There are so many options, and you should find somewhere to workout that you feel comfortable and enjoy! The more you enjoy your routine, the more likely you will stick with it and be successful with your health goals!