Cavemen had to work out to survive. Those who are new to strength training need to survive their initial workouts. Here’s how.
For those who are beginners at strength training, the idea of sticking to this new regimen for a milestone of three months may seem intimidating or perhaps even daunting. But there is one sure way to overcome any impediments: Change the way you think.
The main barriers to surviving the first three months of a new exercise program, especially strength training, are almost always mental ones, not physical. Some of it has to do with maintaining a positive frame of mind. Another aspect is avoiding information overload—confusion over what to do.
Other obstacles stem from self-consciousness when working out around others, feeling overwhelmed by “all the machines,” fear of failure and fear of injury, especially for people suffering from obesity.
There are, however, many proven ways to redirect your thinking and the approaches you take to training so that surviving the first three months will actually become inviting and perhaps even fun. Just try these:
No Cause for Embarrassment – Abolish the idea that as you work out with weights, everyone in the gym will be staring at you. The truth is that few people will care. People of all fitness levels and sizes are too concerned about their own bodies to be minding yours. Surprisingly often, the fittest person in the gym can also be the most self-conscious, striving for perfection and further progression—too anxious about achieving his/her own goals to even notice your presence.
Ask for Assistance – Gym staff are there to help you out. Especially if you are beginner, they will welcome the opportunity to be of service to potential long-term customer. When in doubt, ask. And narrow the focus of your question, starting out with small bits rather than large chunks. Rather than ask, “Where do I begin?” instead ask, “What two exercises do you recommend for strengthening my upper body?” or “Which machines are great for toning the thighs?”
Consider a Personal Trainer – This doesn’t have to be a year-long contract. Even just a few sessions will go a long way in teaching you valuable information about the best exercises for your body. Check out group personal training, as this has a lower rate than one-on-one training.
Don’t Go It Alone – It is so much easier to do any activity when one or more others are there to encourage and motivate you. Get a workout buddy or join a group fitness class that centers on strength training. It’s tough to skip a workout when someone else is expecting you.
Schedule Your Sessions – Mark off several days a week on your calendar for weight training days, and then mark down the specific times. Make a commitment to stick to them, no matter what, even if you feel lazy. Once you show up at the gym, you’ll get going.
Accept No Substitutes – Never allow a household task to replace a scheduled weight workout. It doesn’t matter if you shoveled snow, raked leaves, moved some furniture or carried around the kids, you still have a structured workout session to attend. Other activities are just bonus workouts.
Carrot & Stick – Write down all the positive benefits of following your program for three months, then write down all the negatives of failing to do so. Base your fitness and exercise decisions on what you might regret, as well as what you’ll never regret.
Take It Easy – Start out with light weights and repetitions in the 12-20 range. Get used to the feel of moving weighted objects in a structured pattern. Remind yourself that it’s not about how much you can lift, but getting your joints used to the motions and developing proper form.
As you can see, there’s no need to punish yourself. If you want each session to be something you look forward to, it will happen. Just be patient with yourself, and before you know it, you’ll be hooked on strength training.
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