How to be confident in the gym

Average Reading Time: 5 minutes

Gyms are crowed in January. New Year’s resolutions often emphasize an increased physical activity. For many this means going back to the gym after a longer break, for others it might be the first time they visit one ever. This can be very daunting and even scary at first. This article will show you how to be confident in the gym.

How to be confident in the gym
  • For starters, you might not know how to use the equipment properly or what to actually do in the gym at all.
  • There’s always the possibility to just use the equipment and end up on YouTube because you misused a machine in a funny way. Or not to be able to perform an exercise at all, thus, making a fool of yourself.
  • Ultimately, the biggest reason why a gym might be a scary place is a very valid one: you might be scared to fail.

There’s a solution to all of these hurdles, and I want to tackle them with you in this article, give you a few tips and insights that will guide you along the way.

First of all, though, I want to congratulate you: the willingness to make changes is hard and you did the first big step. Your overall health is very much influenced by your physical fitness and health (research, research).

So, let’s get started.

Fear to use the equipment inappropriately or wrong

Here’s the deal: this most likely happened to all of us already. I certainly used machines wrong at the beginning of my lifting career and definitely don’t perform not all exercises perfectly 100% of the time. It’s requires a lot of focus and concentration.

The most important part is to perform the movements correct enough to illicit the right stimuli in the muscle.

The first and most important tip I can give you, is to ask a trainer to help you. They can show you how to setup the machine properly (it depends on your body), they can explain what to look for and they ought to be able to show you the movement correctly, and correct your form. But they don’t have the time to spend all the workout with you.

Hire a personal trainer

That’s why I highly recommend hiring a personal trainer for at least a month. Hire the trainer for one to two hours a week and ask all your question.

How to be confident in the gym - PT

Sure, this costs you some money, but it is much cheaper than not going to the gym (your health will suffer and health care cost will be expensive in the end), performing exercises wrong (no progress = waste of training time, hurting your body). I certainly wish I had hired a coach sooner rather than later. It would have saved me a lot of time and jump-started my progress a lot.

After this initial month, you ought to have raised enough body awareness and know-how to start your solo journey.

Tips if you can’t afford a personal trainer

  1. If you can’t hire a trainer or coach, try finding a good and experienced lifting buddy. This also increases the chances to stay at it.
  2. The next tip is, read the labels on the machines. They usually explain with pictures how to properly use the machine. On top of that, they explain what muscle(s) is (are) used during the exercise.
  3. In the beginning, go low on the weights. Once you have a good understanding of the exercise you can increase weight. Proper form is more important than the amount of weight you move. You can make your muscles work very hard with minimal weight. Furthermore, lighter weights also greatly reduce the chance to hurt you.
  4. Go on YouTube and research the exercises that you want to perform. There are a lot of high quality resources out there, with lots of helpful cues, tips and tricks

Fear of making a fool of yourself

You might have seen people doing pull-ups, muscle ups, dips, push-ups or big compound movements with the barbell like the squat, deadlift, bench or overhead press. You want to be able to perform these exercises but don’t even know where to start or if you are able to do even one single repetition of it.

Room to grow

It sounds lame, but not being able to do these is fine. Actually it’s great, because it leaves a ton of room for improvement. We all started small and had to start somewhere. You start where you are, and then you’ll take it from there.

How to be confident in the gym - Bodyweight

My tip for this is, start small and focus on performing the movement as correct as possible. Again, add little to no weight to the exercise to begin with.

Find ways to regress movements & exercises

If it’s a bodyweight exercises, find a regression of it. You can’t do pull-ups? Use a resistance bend to help you up or a dedicated machine. You can’t do squats with the barbell? Do bodyweight squats with or without a dumbbell. Strict push-ups aren’t possible yet? Do them on your knees or with your hands on a bench.

All these will help you to build up strength and momentum. After a while you will be able to make these make your first pull-up, then two, 5 and who knows, 62 in one minute.

Fear of failure

This goes hand-in-hand with the above point. The fear of failure is a very strong emotion and has crippled (i.e. stopped people even to try) many people, athletes and competitiors. It’s a common feeling and nothing to be ashamed of. I wrote about this extensively, and suggest you embrace failure.

How to be confident in the gym

In a gym setting, fear of failure, most likely means that you won’t be able to lift the weight. This can be dangerous.

  1. That’s why you better take your time progressing through weight and only increase the weight on the bar when you feel comfortable moving it for a few repetitions (let’s say 3-5).
  2. You definitely can try it first on or with a machine first. If you’re not strong enough yet to do a leg press with 100 kg on the stack, you better not try a 100 kg barbell squat.
  3. Sometimes you need to go through your limits to push them a little further. That’s fine and good. Ask for help! A spotter can aid you in case of need. Often even the trainers on the floor will assist you with this. Don’t be afraid to ask them.
  4. This is especially important for squats, bench and overhead press: use the safety pins bars. That’s what they are designed for. Put them on the correct height for the movement and in case of failure they will take over and rescue you. There’s no shame in that.
  5. Lastly, believe in yourself! If you approach this correctly, chances are that you worked hard to get this chance to try a new PR. Believing you can, will boost your confidence and give you the edge you might need. Telling yourself you can’t, certainly won’t do the trick.
How to be confident in the gym - Spotter and Safety Pins

A few more thoughts and tips

Before you go with confidence on your journey, I want to tell you to stay at it. Making changes in your life takes time. Habits are what will help you get through this.

Have a plan and be consistent

Patience and consistency are you keys to success. I encourage you to write down a plan of your fitness goals and find a realistic way to realize them. You can do this on your own or you hire a coach. If you want my help, feel free to contact me.

How to be confident in the gym - Personal Trainer

Finally here are a few articles I encourage you do read, as I believe them to be help- and meaningful on your journey:

I hope this short list of tips and tricks gives you the confidence you need to start your new journey.

If this article provided any help, please share it with your friends and let me know your thoughts.

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