Over the past decade, I have had countless friends and family members reach out to me, wanting to learn to lift weights. I’ve been asked questions like: “Al, how do I know if somebody else is using the equipment I want to use?”, “What muscles is this supposed to be working?”, “How do I know how heavy to lift?” - These are ALL COMPLETELY VALID QUESTIONS!
Questions like these remind me that the gym was once a scary place for me too; it was super daunting often being the only female in the weights section. I didn’t have a go-to guide to help me, which is why I wanted to create one. I wish I had all this info in one place when I first started my fitness journey! I want to answer all your questions, big or small, especially if you think the question is silly. Contact me any time!
Ask me a question by DMing me, and i'll answer it and add it to this list so we can create a library of information for anyone that feels a little out of their depth at the gym.
How do I know which weight to start with?
Literally trial and error. If you're trying a bench press for the first time with dumbbells - start with a set of 4kg dumbbells and see how you go. If you feel like you can do more than 10 reps easily (with perfect technique!), go up by 1-2kgs. The perfect heaviness is when you struggle to get that 10th rep up. Have a break for 1 minute. And go again for the second set!
I want to use the big silver barbells but I don't know how to set them up/how heavy they are
The big silver bar is called an Olympic Barbell. It weighs 20kgs alone. So if you slide a 5kg plate on either side, you are lifting 30kg. Always start with just the bar - it's pretty heavy already!
If you know your technique is perfect, then add 5kgs at time. There are clips that hold the plates on tight which should be nearby, hanging up.
How do you know where the dumbbells are? It looks like a scary maze of shiny heavy things and grunting men
In most gyms, there will be a stand of dumbbells from 1kg - 10kg. Anything above 10kgs is usually lined up underneath the big, long mirror where the men in stringer singlets watch themselves work out.
Where are the barbells?
Similar to the dumbbell situation, there will be a stand of 'fixed' bars (meaning, the weights on the bar are permanently there and you can't add/remove anything). Usually from 10kg-40kg. If you can use the 20kg fixed barbell, head over to the Olympic Bars instead and feel like a boss ass bitch.
I feel like everyone is looking at me
They actually aren't. Ignore them, they're too busy looking at themselves to look at you. They're there for the same reason you are - to feel strong. If they actually are looking at you, it's probably because you're a strong independent woman that lifts weights (#respect) and they'll stay out of your way. Or you might find the love of your life at the gym, like I did hahaha! At the end of the day, walk with confidence and you'll feel confident.