If you’re taking your first tentative steps into the gym this year, then Wiggle is here to help.
We’ve pulled together some of the best advice from experienced gym goers to help you stride into the gym with confidence and avoid those rookie errors.
So here are our top ten tips for those preparing to blast the bench and demolish those dumbbells.
Our top ten tips for gym first-timers
We’ve gathered ten tips ranging from general gym etiquette to motivational advice to ensure your first gym experience is a great one.
1. Don’t be so self-conscious
It’s perfectly normal to feel a little intimidated during your first foray into free weights. You’ll often see experienced lifters and gym goers for whom the weights bench is a second home. Most newbies, however, overestimate how much they’re being noticed.
Regular gym goers are often way too focused on their set to notice you’re there. You’re not being watched and not being judged. If anything, many of the old-hands will be cheering you on. Remember, everyone had their first day in the gym.
2. Don't be afraid to ask questions
If you don't know something, it's better to ask a member of staff than to hurt yourself or break a piece of equipment. Staff at any good gym will be delighted to wax lyrical about form and safety so use their knowledge.
3. Start light – really light
If you’re pretty new to lifting weights, then start way within your abilities. You should be lifting weights that feel much too easy at the beginning and concentrating solely on establishing good form. Good form is absolutely essential and much more important than slinging on huge plates and pushing yourself to the limit. Excellent form prevents injury, speeds your progress, and stops you looking foolish.
4. Wear appropriate clothing
Gym shorts, trousers, or leggings; a T-shirt; socks; and sneakers are all you need. A sports bra is a good idea if you are a woman. Decent gym clothing will help with confidence and aid your performance. Make sure you wash it after every visit.
5. Be considerate
Everyone in the gym is sharing the space and have paid the same money to be there. That means you have just as much right to use the spaces and equipment as everyone else. It also means you have to make allowances, be tolerant and be considerate just as much as everyone else. Here are a few common tips for ways to be a good gym goer.
- Make sure your clothing is clean, including your shoes, and isn’t overly odorous.
- Put all gym equipment, such as barbells, back when you're done with it.
- Wipe down equipment afterwards if you sweat all over it (or even if you don’t).
- Don't bother people when they are in the middle of an exercise (wait until they are resting).
- Give people space to do their workout.
- Don't stare.
- Don’t hog equipment browsing your phone.
- You get only one piece of equipment at a time.
- Don’t drop your weights.
6. Use the equipment for its intended purpose
Do not improvise with the equipment. Don’t use the weights bench for step-ups or the squat rack for pull-ups. Not only is this important for safety but those who need to use the equipment for its intended purpose will take a dim view of your creative approach.
7. Muscle is made in the kitchen not the gym
Nutrition and eating right is hugely important for progress, exercise is only part of what’s required to effect real change in your fitness and body shape.
8. Have a routine before going in
Research a suitable beginner workout routine online or by talking to experienced gym-goers before entering the gym. You should have a goal before you go in and a plan to make it happen. Know which pieces of equipment you want to use, what weights you’ll be doing, and how many sets/reps you’re aiming for.
9. Have a long-term plan
Don’t expect your first trip to the gym to be revelatory. You won’t walk out with a ripped six-pack on day one, or two, or even 32. This is about lifestyle change and it takes time. Going to the gym needs to become a part of your life, like going to work or shopping for groceries. To succeed, you need to adopt it into the rhythm of your lifestyle. Work out a sensible, achievable schedule, whether that’s one day or five days a week. That’s now ‘gym time’ and it’s just as unavoidable as buying food or turning up for work.
10. Don’t be too hard on yourself
Yes, challenge yourself. Yes, have high expectations. But don’t be crushed if you don’t hit your targets or miss a day due to something unavoidable. Success is about consistency and dedication, but it also requires you to stay positive. Enjoy the journey because it never ends.