Quite often, when I go to my local gym, I am the only woman in the weight room. After some conversations with women I know, I’ve come to realize that a lot of women feel uncomfortable in a weight room that is typically filled with meat head dudes grunting and taking selfies in the mirror in between sets. Ladies, let’s change this. Remember, the #FutureIsFemale and we need more women pumping iron. Forget about the self-consciousness – it has no place in the gym. You are there to better yourself and your body. Here is some of the wisdom of my own personal experience to help you conquer whatever limits are keeping you from feeling like a boss at the gym.
1. Make a plan & learn the movements.
First, get a program and commit to following it. Once you have a program, focus on schooling yourself a little to learn how to correctly perform each exercise.
2. Wear comfortable clothes.
Create a wardrobe of clothes to wear to the gym so you’re motivated to head to the gym in your gear. You should also wear something that makes you feel confident and comfortable.
3. Wear headphones to muffle bad gym music (or no music) with your own motivating beats.
Sometimes, I listen to podcasts while lifting and other times, I listen to loud upbeat music to get me pumped for a heavy lift. Having in headphones also allows you to zone the rest of the world around you out and keep the focus completely on your workout.
4. Ask for a gym tour.
A gym tour can help you understand where and what the machines are and what other equipment you might be able to use to make your workout more engaging and fun. Sometimes, seeing weight training machines can get overwhelming because they look intimidating, but if you ask the person giving you a tour to go through all the machines and their uses, you will feel much more comfortable and confident the next time you go to the gym.
5. Time your workout during off-peak hours.
If you are new to the gym scene and you go in during peak hours, when most commercial gyms are PACKED, you could feel intimidated and probably have to wait to use a particular equipment if you are not yet creative with your workouts. Ask your gym what the busiest times are during the weekdays and weekends and, if you are able to, schedule your workout around the off-peak, less crowded times.
6. Buddy Up.
Find a workout partner to help you get your feet wet and comfortable to go into the weight room. Having a friend or a buddy there with you can help ease any nervousness you might have when doing a workout with weights. There are sites like buddyup.com that can help you find a workout buddy in your area who has similar interests and goals as you.
7. Focus on yourself.
If you fully focus on your goals when doing your workout, then you will not even have a chance to focus on the people around you who you “think” are looking at you. The reality is that almost everyone who is in the weight room is focused on their workout and their goals, so you must also completely focus on yourself, too!
8. Focus on tempo.
Tempo training will help you stay focused and in the “now.” What I mean by tempo training is controlling the concentric and eccentric movements of every single rep that you perform. Instead of swinging the weight up and down quickly, focus on a 4-3-2-1 tempo to really help you make that mind and muscle connection.
9. Practice some body-weight movements at home.
Before jumping under the squat rack (which I would never recommend any novice to even do), you must learn all compound movements using just your body-weight. Practice your squats, hip thrusts, lunges etc., at home using your body-weight so that when you go into the weight room, you are not wandering around looking up “how to” do something on your phone – and you will also look like a pro.
10. Feed your muscles.
Eating around your training is vital for your progress. Working out without properly feeding and nourishing your body is like going on a drive with no gas in your tank. You must eat balanced micro-nutrient and macro-nutrient dense foods to fuel your workouts. Many people think that if they just skip meals before their workout or after, that it will help speed up the results. The reality is that, if you don’t properly fuel your self, you will see a significant difference in your workout energy, strength, and motivation. Have some starchy carbs before your workout and lift. Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred fuel source.
Now, go get ’em.