When I first started exercising, I went to the gym for a full year but I never once set foot in the weight room. Like most women in the gym, I stuck to the cardio equipment because I (wrongly) assumed I’d burn more calories there, and also because I was scared to lift a weight.
Strength training for women was a foreign concept to me, and I was scared to look foolish in front of all the guys. I was not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than 20 percent of women ages 25-64 meet federal physical activity guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities, but about 50 percent meet the guidelines for aerobic activity.
Over time, I realized strength training was an important part of the fitness puzzle I was overlooking. In order to become stronger, I knew I needed to hit the gym in a new way. Here’s how I started strength training as a beginner.
Attend a Class
One of the best ways I learned how to properly strength train was by attending a female-focused weight class at my local gym. These classes are available at studios and gyms across the nation and teach you the basics of weight lifting in a fun, nonjudgmental atmosphere.
After attending the class once a week for a couple of months, I felt confident walking into the weight room and doing my own workout.
Go With a Friend
When I started lifting weights, I was lucky to have a boyfriend (now husband!) who helped me take those first steps. Find a friend to walk into the weight room with you and start pumping iron with more confidence. Having a gym buddy not only boosts your confidence, it helps hold you accountable and provides a spotter when you need one.
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Study Up and Make a Plan
Walking into the gym without a workout strategy can lead to wasted effort and a low-quality workout. Spend some time at the start of each week designing your fitness routine for the next seven days.
For example, choose Tuesday and Thursday as strength-training days and focus on different areas like upper body, lower body or core during each workout. Try looking online for strength training for women workout routines and write down the exercises in advance so you walk into the weight room with a plan.
Take It Easy at First
One of the great things about strength training is that you don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to do it. My go-to basic strength-training set includes dumbbells, a medicine ball and a resistance band.
With just a few pieces of equipment, you can get a great workout without having to worry about getting tangled up in a complicated strength-training machine or crushing yourself under a super-heavy barbell. Start your strength-training program with the basics and work your way up from there.
Let Go of Fear
Your health is most important — so don’t let your fear of feeling foolish stop you from doing what’s best for your body. After a few strength-training sessions, you’ll build the confidence you need to get a solid workout in. And, more importantly, you’ll build the strength you need to live a healthy, active life.
Consult your doctor before beginning any diet or exercise program.