How to Start Weightlifting

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Are you getting bored of your current workout routine? Are your shins sore from all of the running that you do? Do you want to feel strong and powerful? Is trimming and shaping your body a goal of yours? Then, weight training might be for you!

For starters, there are different variations of weight training (bodybuilding, olympic weightlifting, powerlifting) to get into depending on preference. Bodybuilding is weight training in a way that enlarges and adds definition to muscles in the body for aesthetic purposes (think Arnold Schwarzenegger in the early ‘70s, or Nikki Blackketter from Instagram). This form of exercise concentrates on a high number of reps per set and the use of lighter weights in comparison to the other two forms. Olympic weightlifting is when the individual attempts a single lift of a barbell with plates (the two lifts are the snatch and the clean and jerk). Powerlifting is when athletes perform three lifts in a set sequence (deadlift, chest press, and squat). For Olympic weightlifting and powerlifting the athlete focuses on form and the amount of weight on the bar (less reps per set). It is important to figure out which exercise program (or which combination of exercise programs) peaks your interest in order to start training in that particular area.

If you’ve never been in the weights area in your gym before, it may be a little intimidating at first. The area is normally occupied by men that look like they could bicep curl your entire body with one of their arms, men with shifty eyes, and have a thick aroma of sweat. But, you have to be uncomfortable in order to grow. It takes leaving your comfort zone in order to witness change happening.

However, if you want to be better acquainted with the weights without feeling embarrassed and surrounded by the male gaze, I would suggest working out in the early morning. During this time, there usually aren’t many people in the gym, so you will be free to workout without the fear of being judged or harassed. If you’re not a morning person or it is not possible to make it to the gym at that time, finding a quiet corner in the gym can be less intimidating. Another alternative would be to work out at home! To get yourself acquainted with the movements and motions, exercising in the comfort of your home is a great option. A good reminder is that nothing should stop you from reaching your goals if you’re dedicated. You’re going to the gym for your own personal gain, not for anyone else. So pop your earbuds in and get to work.

Whether you decide to do bodybuilding, olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, or a hybrid of multiple practices, it is imperative that you learn proper form. Not only will improper form inhibit your growth, it can also hurt you. If you curl your back while doing deadlifts, it can damage your spine. If you don’t use a full range of motion when doing bicep curls, it can shorten your muscles. If you don’t stand correctly while squatting, it can damage your knees. It is extremely important that proper and thorough research is done in order to avoid these issues. Having someone present that is familiar with lifting can help counteract any issues you may exhibit, but that’s not always feasible. So, watching as many videos on YouTube and Instagram can really help develop form if the person you’re watching is reliable. There are many people on Instagram who dedicate their pages to fitness but a great person to follow is SuzieB. She offers workout plans to purchase, but she also upload clips to Instagram of her daily workouts and the Do’s and Don'ts of proper form. The most important thing is to just practice the movements with little to no weight and make sure you have the foundation down. Then, add more weights as your progress in your journey.

Switching up a workout regimen or just getting into working out will often require a lifestyle switchup; it means creating and dedicating time to this new hobby. It also means that diet changes may need to be done as well. Deciding to be fit and healthy requires consuming the right nutrients that will fuel your body and have it perform how you want it to. Getting into lifting is not easy and may seem extremely frustrating at times. The motivation will not always be there but the goals you want to reach will be. Therefore, getting into lifting also means prioritizing what you want and making it happen. It will teach you strength of the body and the mind and occasionally push you to your limits.  

Weight training is fun and can help greatly when building confidence. It can make you feel powerful, strong, and independent. Getting past the hurdle of starting can be hard, but once you get into you will never want to stop. Just put your earbuds in and do it.