Learning how to get started working out at a gym might be a little bit intimidating at first. There are all sorts of crazy machines, heavy weights, and people to distract your focus. Fitness culture is not as abrasive as the media might portray.
Lucky for you, I have been there and done that. I used to be so intimidated by the gym, that I even built my own home gym in order to avoid human contact. Do not worry. The gym is nowhere near as intimidating as it might seem.
In this post we will discuss the basics of how to get started working out at a gym. Everything from etiquette to working out to learning how to hit your goals.
Personally, I struggled for 7+ years trying to hit my goals. I was nervous to go to the gym, and I struggled with putting on muscle. Luckily, I was able to figure it out, and I am now in the best shape of my life.
Do not be concerned about getting started at the gym. You will learn to love it, and will look forward to going every week.
Mostly, gym etiquette is common sense. Don’t crowd other people’s space, and don’t hog the equipment. I usually aim for a max of 10 minutes at a particular exercise.
But there are other parts of gym etiquette that are lesser known, and some seasoned gym goers still make these mistakes.
One of the first things to be mindful of is to wipe down the gym equipment after each use. Most gyms today have plenty of antibacterial spray and paper towels, so this shouldn’t be an issue.
I personally wipe down equipment before use also. I see plenty of people disregard this simple bit of etiquette and leave sweat sitting on the equipment. Not cool!
Another classic piece of advice is don’t do curls in the squat rack! For some reason, the squat rack is a beacon of confusion when it comes to the gym. Don’t be that person who does curls in the squat rack. Most gyms only have a couple squat racks if you are lucky. Do your curls anywhere else but here.
The last thing I will say about gym etiquette is to make sure to put everything back where it belongs. I am astonished when I see how many people leave stuff laying around and then take off.
If you are at the gym, you are there to lift weights and get in better shape. That means you are getting an extra workout in if you just lift up your weights and put them back where they belong. 99% of all people follow this rule, but I am always shocked when I see 6 sets of dumbbells laying around with nobody there to claim them.
Do you want to lose fat or gain muscle?
This is a very important question that you MUST choose. There are too many gurus out there that claim you can build muscle and lose fat at the same time. You cannot build muscle in a caloric deficit.
The same goes for fat loss. You cannot lose fat when you are in a caloric surplus. So what does that tell you? Eat at a caloric surplus to build muscle, and eat at a caloric deficit to lose fat.
I understand this might be a little bit confusing, which is why you need to learn how to calculate your maintenance calories before anything else.
Once you know what your maintenance calories are, now you can really start to dial in on your goals.
You might not know if you should gain muscle or lose fat first. If you are overweight, you probably want to lose fat first. And once you have lost enough fat, you can now switch to building muscle.
If you are underweight, you now have the green light to start building muscle. This was me. I was 6’1” and 135lbs, which is very skinny. I didn’t gain any muscle until I started eating enough calories. Eating enough is VERY important to building muscle.
What workouts should you do to get started in the gym
Now that we know whether or not we want to lose fat or build muscle, we can choose a workout plan based on our goals.
If you want to lose weight, I recommend a combination of weight training and high intensity interval training, HIIT for short. The most important thing here is to do HIIT. That will get your heart rate up, and shed fat rapidly. Here are some beginner HIIT workouts to do at home.
If you want to build muscle, I recommend sticking to a weight training plan, 3-4 days per week, that has minimal cardio involved. You can find many examples of these workout plans in our app All Workouts: Personal Trainer (iOS | Google Play).
If you don’t want to download the app, you can always take a look at our workouts for skinny people to gain muscle.
Since this is an article about how to get started working out at a gym, I highly recommend downloading the app. It has full workout plans for FREE! There are also descriptions, images, and videos of each exercise. It will really give you a good head start for your first gym experience.
Main Point: How to get started working out at a gym
Working out at the gym is not as intimidating as many think. When I first started working out, I was so nervous that I even built my own home gym.
This doesn’t have to be you. With this article, you now have everything that you need to get started going to the gym. Don’t forget about gym etiquette. As I mentioned before, it is mostly common sense. Just don’t do anything to harass other people, and you will be fine.
Also, don’t forget to learn how to find your maintenance level calories. Once you do that, you can choose which path you want to take. Fat loss or muscle building. Remember that you have to choose one or the other. You cannot build muscle in a caloric deficit, and you cannot lose fat in a caloric surplus.
The last thing that we can’t forget is to stick to a workout plan. If you want to lose fat, you should stick towards a workout plan that incorporates plenty of HIIT. Again, our app is a great place to get started with a workout plan, and HIIT workouts.
If you want to build muscle, stick to weight training with minimal HIIT workouts. This will ensure that your surplus calories go towards your muscles.