Weight Room Confidential: What No One Told Me Starting Out
Top trainers may have ripped abs, know the name of every muscle in the body, and how to whip up an amazing circuit for the booty you want. But they were once newbies in the weight room, too. That’s why we have curated from top trainers to dish on the biggest blunders they made when they were fresh on the mats, plus the most common missteps they see from others.
Because sure, it’d be great if setting up a weight machine made complete sense (what does this knob do?), and you weren’t constantly distracted by this cast of characters, but that’s not always the case for beginners. And that’s OK!
We bet you can relate to the fears and face-palm moments below. Even better, you’ll get top-notch insights on how you can learn from them. Get ready to feel more confident in the weight room, starting now.
1. “I had no clue how to set anything up.”
“When I first started, one of the common mistakes I made — and I see other new gym-goers make now — was not knowing how to properly adjust the weight machines. I’d feel overwhelmed as I’d panic trying to adjust something, only to find that the knob wouldn’t budge or the pin was stuck in place. I’d then simply use the equipment in the position it was already in, which means it often didn’t fit my body — I’m just 5’2”! Or, I’d give up using the equipment all together. When I became a personal trainer, I’d lead free weekly equipment orientation sessions, taking groups of members around the gym. Check if your gym offers this and then take advantage of it.” —Jessica Matthews, MS, spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise, and author of Stretching to Stay Young
2. “I had zero plan.”
“I would just walk around and use machines I felt comfortable with. Or I’d work body parts I could see in the mirror. I coined this ‘Mirror Body Syndrome.’ Talk about developing an unbalanced body! Write down your workouts or follow a program. It will give you structure in your training so you remember what you did the day before and don’t over or under-train certain body parts. It will also give you results when you’re not just spinning your wheels walking around aimlessly.” —Ashley Borden, master trainer, celebrity fitness and lifestyle consultant
3. “I went too hard.”
“When I started out, I took on way too much too soon. I worked out too long, cut too many calories, and I got myself so sore that I wouldn’t get back to the gym consistently. Learn from my experience and take on a smaller goal so you can be consistent about it. For instance, go to the gym for 30 minutes and work one or two body parts along with basic cardio. Once you have that consistency, you can add more volume and frequency.” —Jen Widerstrom, fitness expert, costar of Daily Blast Live, and author of Diet Right For Your Personality Type (Check out her 15-Minute Workouts on Daily Burn!)
4. “I’d make sure everyone knew proper gym etiquette.”
“Trying to remember everything I did wrong starting out is quite hard. It’s still a journey and I’m always learning new things. But, one thing I see all the time is poor gym etiquette. I hate trying to track down equipment that’s not returned or laying down on a wet mat. Ew! Use those spray bottles, rags, and wet wipes. I tell everyone: be a sweetie, wipe the seatie.” —Erin Oprea, celebrity personal trainer and author of The 4 x 4 Diet (Seriously, check out this complete list of trainers’ biggest pet peeves.) In a matter of a fact, no one really cares about them, they just pump those weights.