A Woman’s Guide to Beginning Weightlifting

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Left is 4 years ago and about 6 months into “seriously” lifting. The right is 1 month ago and now I can’t imagine NOT lifting.

We all know the saying “Getting started is the hardest part.”

For most of us, I think we have been proved of this multiple times in our lives, whether it be with schoolwork, work tasks, housework, or other menial things.  (Menial, at least, in the grand scheme of life.)   But how many of you have actually put off something you know is healthy and you know could be life-changing because of some excuse: fear, laziness, lack of knowledge, etc.?

I was definitely in that group aforementioned before I began to lift weights.  I had seen it all over the Internet, magazines, TV, and social media about just how beneficial it was for your body and mind, but the thought of starting scared me.  I have always been blessed with a relatively fast metabolism, so I sort of figured, “Why fix what isn’t broken?”  I had these thoughts DESPITE knowing that I had very limited amounts of muscle, my body got tired constantly, and cardio was just plain getting old.

So I was at a standstill with my stubbornness about starting a new habit or staying stuck where I was, which I think a lot of people struggle with.  Luckily, I have a streak of competitiveness that doesn’t enjoy doing things half-way, so I began to research.  And research.  And research some more about what was the best way to do things, how to get started, should my diet change, how often should I lift, etc.  The same things I noticed recurring in every article I read are some of the same principles that I use to this day.

Soooooo all of that being said, I have compiled some of my biggest tips to those of you women (or men) who want to get started with weightlifting but have zero clue where to start!

Biggest Takeaways for Beginning Weightlifting

  • Simple is ALWAYS best.
    • The hardest movements that many people still struggle with are actually the basics.  Movements like squats and deadlifts are probably the most stimulus-producing movements there are and two of the hardest to get form down.  I personally believe that you should dive head first into the hardest part of a challenge so that the rest can be smooth sailing and you can focus on the more minor aspects of things.  Once you start to understand these movements mechanically, you can continue to progress with them instead of ignoring them or, even worse, doing them haphazardly and risking injury.
    • Don’t try to overload yourself with 20 different exercises the first time you get in the gym because, most likely, you’re going to feel entirely overwhelmed, your body is going to be stressing out from going 0-100 (real quick), and you’re going to be sore for a week.
    • Do pick out 1 or 2 compound movements to try and get a feeling for the movement and then move on to something slightly less fatiguing, like dumbbell movements or the machines.  (The more you progress and add muscle, the less you should be using machines as the bulk of your workouts, but for beginners, machines are completely fine to get assimilated.)
  • No one is actually looking at you in the gym.
    • This was probably my BIGGEST concern before weightlifting and was the absolute reason it took me so long to step foot in the weight room.  The male-dominated, hot, cramped weight room made me want to run the other way for fear of judgement.  I used to lift dumbbells and machines for about 6 months in the upstairs part of our gym before I actually ventured down to the weight room.  (Silly, I know.)
    • I always had this misconception that everyone in the weight room would know what they were doing with perfect form and heavy weights and boyyy was I wrong.  After I began to take classes in the actual science of lifting and talk to more experienced lifters, I quickly realized that most of the people in the weight room probably didn’t understand the foundations of weightlifting and were most likely not going to judge me for figuring my way out in there.
    • Now that I’ve been lifting for 4+ years, I have noticed how few people actually look around or worry about other people in the gym.  If someone is checking you out, it may actually be for something other than checking out your form. 😉 (This is actually how I snagged my loving boyfriend!)
  • Figure out what motivates YOU.
    • I’m sure every single person has seen an article that’s called “The Perfect Time to Work Out.”  Or “The Best Way to Get Used to Morning Work Outs.” Or “This is Why You Should Exercise at Night.” THEY’RE ALL USELESS.  Every single person in this world wants to work out in a way, most likely, different than the person next to them.  It’s just how we are programmed.
    • I am a huuuge morning person and I adore getting my post-workout endorphins going before heading to work for the day, so I favor early morning workouts (unless I choose to favor sleeping in instead.)  I also like knowing that I have at least one thing checked off on my to-do list before 7 am!  That being said, I used to lift in the evenings when I first started college because that was the time I had more free space and energy.  Everyone has a different preference for time and for what works for them.
    • If you are the type of person who needs external motivation, find it!  Some people want the motivation of an event coming up on their calendar, a certain size of clothing they want to fit into, or something as simple as working out with a partner.  I think most women that begin to navigate the weight room in college tend to urge a pal to go along with them- and it works!  If you enjoy going alone because you like the “Me Time,” create a new workout playlist that you are excited to listen to while lifting- this will work too!  Just figure out the “when” and block that time off so you have zero reasons to not go.
  • Use your resources.
    • YouTube and Instagram are probably going to become your best friends when you are first discovering how to lift properly.  YouTube is one of my favorites for checking form because there are SO many videos showing from each how angle how a movement is performed.  Instagram is fabulous for figuring out the type of physical goals you may be looking to attain, how to get a gist for basic programming, basic information, etc.
    • So many companies and people post information for free (my favorite no-sugar-coating page is RP Strength page on Instagram)-so use them!  We are in a time and age of having so much information accessible at our fingertips that it is crazy.
    • Have a friend or know of someone who knows more than you about how to get started?  Ask them!  I can guarantee they will not only be flattered, but will also be more than happy to help you.
  • Feel confident in what you are doing for your body.
    • My last and most important tip is to just BE CONFIDENT.  So many people have no idea the innumerable benefits you will get from weightlifting, but the biggest takeaway I have gotten is confidence.  I believe most people will eventually gain confidence as they begin to lift, but I’m encouraging you all to START with confidence. Know that what you are doing is one of the absolute best things anyone can do for their body physically and mentally.
    • Remember that results WILL come eventually.  We live in such a fast-paced, instant-gratification world that most people have trouble waiting for the results to come and begin to feel discouraged.  Go through your workouts and daily routines with the confidence that you will see results and enjoy the process while doing it.  Relish in the soreness, the pushing through your reps, and the changing up of your routine and you’ll find that more likely than not, weightlifting is going to start feeling less like a chore and more like a habit.

      S/o to the greatest show on Planet Earth, The Office, for having a plethora of wonderful memes

Thank you SO much for reading & I really hope you feel at least slightly more encouraged to step foot in a weight room soon.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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