The weights room at the gym can seem intimidating to somebody just starting out.
The fact that the main part of the population in there seems to be male, combined with women being told not to lift more than 3 lbs, scare off many women before they even get started.
Weightlifting has actually been shown to improve general wellbeing and body image of women – and the women who did weight training in the study also had a significant increase in muscular strength and decrease in body fat; that was by weight training only two days a week for 15 weeks.
The fact that weight training makes you more confident is not helpful if you lack the confidence to get started. But over-thinking, imagining all the scenarios where it goes wrong, will get you nowhere – there’s a reason why worrying is compared to a rocking chair. So what can you actually do, to get the extra boost of confidence before hitting the gym?
Here’s a few you can try
Decide what exercises you’re going to do beforehand, and practice. By practice I don’t mean you should do a complete workout at home, but watch videos of the exercises. Exrx.net, Bodybuilding.com and Jefit are good places to look. Mimic the movements, so you know how it feels to perform the exercise. Go with a friend (if they have in experience, that’s even better) – that way you can help each other with the technique, and you will feel less vulnerable.
Remember people don’t go to the gym to look at you
Most people are more busy exercising or looking at themselves in the mirror to notice if you make a little mistake. And even if you make a mistake, so what? We all do once in a while – you’re just too busy worrying about whether people are staring at you to notice.
Everyone screws up once in a while
I’ve been lifting be years by now, but that does not stop me from looking stupid from time to time. Recently I wanted to use the assisted pull up machine at my gym – but I just couldn’t figure it out! , because I spend way too long trying to adjust it to me. In the end, I had to walk to walk away in defeat – By now I’ve convinced myself that it just wasn’t working.
Ask for help
Employes at the gym are there to help – and in my experience, other gym goers are nice too, if you ask them for help. They will not think you’re stupid if you ask for help, probably just that you’re new – and if you say thank you, they will think you’re nice too.
Don’t compare yourself to others
When you start out with weight training, you will, naturally. not be able to lift as much or as well as experienced lifters. Don’t compare you beginning to somebody else’s middle. And remember; lifting heavy is not impressive – lifting heavy with good form is impressive. Form over speed and weight, always. Progress will come with time if you keep challenging yourself.
Look good, feel good
This last tip doesn’t work for everybody; but if wearing that cute top, your new shoes or putting on a bit of make-up gives you the extra boost in confidence, do it!
What makes you feel confident in the gym? Let me know what you think in the comments below!
- Effects of weight training on the emotional well-being and body image of females: predictors of greatest benefit. Tucker, LA, Maxwell, K. Department of Physical Education, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. American Journal of Health Promotion,1992 May-Jun;6(5):338-44, 371