How Do You Start Working Out? Please Help!

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 10, 2011 7:51 AM GMT
    I'm just starting to work out and I'm not sure how to start. I'm comfortable mainly with machines at this point but I know that free weights will probably be better in the long run.

    When I go to the gym, I just feel like I'm so weak that I can't really even do the exercises with any kind of weight significant enough to really gain any muscle. I know it's a long, slow process, but I'm just not sure what I should be focusing on as I'm beginning.

    My main goals are to increase bulk of my chest and arms. I know I'm never going to be huge, and I don't obsess about being totally cut or anything. I know you have to eat to gain, but when I was doing that I felt like I was just putting on fat, or just gaining size in areas that didn't matter to me, like my midsection. I've subsequently lost about 10 lbs of that weight.

    I know I must not be working as hard as I can because it's not like I'm sweating through my shirt or anything. My heart rate increases though. I just don't feel like I can physically lift more weight than I do, I try to increase the weight, but I literally cannot do the reps. Should I start out with a lower weight and do lots of reps or use heavier weight and do less reps?

    Please help me figure out how I should be starting working out. It's so frustrating going to the gym and feeling like I can hardly even do the exercises and feeling like I can never really make any gains that way.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 10, 2011 10:54 AM GMT
    I know it´s confusing....

    Ideally you want someone to show you the ropes. However, if that is impossible then you can do some stuff on your own.

    First, really spend time understanding what the purpose of each exercise is and learn how to do it with correct form.

    Second, don´t expect changes in a week.

    Third, sort your diet out. Diet is a big deal. It´s a bigger deal than you presently understand and it will probably take you the best part of 5 years to get it.

    You can try using some of the workouts on here.. there are videos and everything....
  • tuffguyndc

    Posts: 4437

    Mar 10, 2011 1:31 PM GMT
    why don't you sit down and figure out your goals then hire a personal trainer
  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16311

    Mar 10, 2011 1:39 PM GMT
    What a cutie, I sincerely hope you will be successful.

    My suggestion is that you spend a little time at the gym and make sure you are comfortable and confident with what you are considering doing.. do some reading. Gain some insight from a trainer(s) as tuff mentioned above.
    Basically really know what you want, then spend time using each machine
    correctly. Some you will like better than others and use them at low weight.

    It may not look like you are making gains, but as the weeks pass you will be able to add weight. Also consider working with another person with free weights. Always observe proper form. I'm amazed how many guys work out and are using machines in a way that may hurt or injure them.

    Over time you will be able to add weight in all areas, but always reevaluate.
    Above all, be patient. This is a lifestyle change, not a burden. Do it the right way and it will enhance your life as the years pass.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 10, 2011 4:09 PM GMT
    Use the workouts here, or over at www.BodyBuilding.com where they have tons of excellent routines, for all ages and stages, and not just for "bodybuilders" but for regular guys who want to get into shape.
  • rf_dal

    Posts: 380

    Mar 10, 2011 4:18 PM GMT
    I totally feel your pain, I've felt exactly the same way. What's also fun is feeling like the total scrawn at the gym.. lol I found a friend to help out thankfully, I don't know if I could afford the training I would need to actually get it.. lol And the nutrition is confusing too.. people are all "eat a bagillion calories" but I get fat not built. Or I don't eat a bagillion and add no muscle then either. I suppose none of this is a help other than to say you're not alone!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 10, 2011 4:27 PM GMT
    You go to the gym.

    You pick up a weight.

    You put it down.

    Do this until you are tired.

    Then go home.


    Don't mention it. Glad to help.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 10, 2011 4:34 PM GMT
    What worked for me is that I hired a personal trainer...i really suggest you do, he gave me the motivation I wouldn't have had if I started on my own.
  • rf_dal

    Posts: 380

    Mar 10, 2011 4:36 PM GMT
    No need to be snide, it's obviously something that's truly troubling him.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 10, 2011 5:27 PM GMT
    Either hire a personal trainer (if you are a member of a gym, there is probably one there), or do a TON of research online. And if you are going to do research online, you really have to spend a lot of time. Bodybuilding.com is a great source for pretty much everything you need. They have beginner workout routines, videos on how to do all the exercises, etc.

    Yes, free weights will be better. Just because you can't lift a lot of weight doesn't mean you aren't working the muscle. Don't be ashamed and just start off with what you can do. If you do things right, you will get stronger. Hell, when I started off I couldn't even put up 135 on bench, but time went on and I pushed through it.

    Make sure you realize diet is a big part of this too. You need to eat a lot in order to gain muscle. Lots of protein, carbs to fuel your body, veggies, fats, etc. When I started weight training, I thought I could be a superhuman and lose a little extra fat while I gained muscle. Didn't work. I stuck to a goal of just gaining muscle and worrying about the fat later, and I saw a lot of progress.

    Hope this helps. Just remember, do a lot of research! If you really are dedicated, you will spend hours researching online.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 10, 2011 5:57 PM GMT
    What really works best is learning from someone who knows the ropes first - either a personal trainer or a workout buddy (who has some experience). Might consider taking a class at a community center or community college (some gyms even have a "beginners course") and save some cash before working with a trainer. Online programs/courses are good but don't to anything to help you achieve proper form, exercise speed, etc which is important to see real gains. Trying to weed through the mass of information out there can be confusing and/or discouraging, so it's good to have help.

    At the gym it's good to go on off hours when you're trying to get familiar with equipment etc so you don't feel that pressure to rush, or feeling stupid from being the newbie.

    I've been in to fitness all my life and thought I had it pretty well figured out. This last year I finally hooked up with a trainer out of need for a change - and recovering from an injury had left me quite out of shape. I was discouraged to start from scratch again but he helped me find that inner fire, set goals, and be accountable. The difference has been amazing and I'm in the best shape of my life now.

    Find a trainer that is suited to your goals (and it helps if they are built like you want to become - they're walking the walk...). A good fit in that relationship is important and will make all the difference. I can't even say how thankful I am to have
  • tokugawa

    Posts: 945

    Mar 11, 2011 9:03 PM GMT
    1. Every time you lift weights correctly, you make some progress building muscle. The downside is it takes awhile to notice your progress. Rather than measuring yourself after each workout, make going to the gym and lifting a habit.

    2. The best investment you can make is to hire a personal trainer, even if its just for one time. Some exercises are dangerous if not done correctly, like the squat. A personal trainer will show you how to do it correctly and provide expert feedback.

    3. "No pain, no gain." As a beginner, go slow; but the best results will happen when you "go to failure," that is, continue doing reps until your body tells you that you cannot possibly do another one. When this happens, some of your muscle cells will be killed, and that muscle group will send a message to the brain that additional resources are need to repair the damage, AND TO BUILD THAT MUSCLE STRONGER SO THAT IT WILL NOT FAIL THE NEXT TIME.

    Of course, the next time your goal should be to go to failure again, sending another message to the brain to allocate even more of the body's available resources to that muscle group, and that muscle will again get bigger and stronger.

    The flip side of the coin is that when you stop exercising, you will slowly lose the muscle gains you previously made.

    4. Adequate rest is essential for muscle growth.

    5. Try to eliminate junk food from your diet. Start with cutting down on sugar, with the goal of eventually eliminating sugar drinks like soda, sugar desserts, sugar breakfast cereals, etc. Eliminate donuts from your diet, which often contain unhealthy trans fats.

    6. Eat healthier foods. A good place to start is to eat more blueberries (and other fruits) and almonds (and other nuts.) These natural foods do not require any processing. Speaking of processing, switch to less processed "whole wheat" bread rather than heavily processed "white" bread. Eat more lean fowl (turkey) and seafood, eat less red meat.

    7. Your efforts will be influenced by your genetics, which you have no control over. Arnold Schwarzenegger would have had a muscular looking body even if he never lifted a single weight. Therefore, some people will add muscle easier than the "hard gainers" who have difficulty adding muscle.

    8. Like any other sport, the best results are achieved by starting early in life, and working consistently towards your goal. However, no matter how late in life you start, lifting weights will result in muscle growth.

    9. Some things which make progress easier are working out with a partner or with friends; listening to music you like on your iPod (or, if you've been doing this for a long time, on your tape deck, or, if money's tight, on your radio.) If you are independently wealthy, consider having a personal trainer every time you work out.

    10. Treat yourself to a massage, your muscles will thank you.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 11, 2011 9:07 PM GMT
    Yes, hire a trainer to begin with. Find a good one with good qualifications and recommendations. Ask copious amounts of questions and listen to their advice. Also, don't be intimidated by the guys in the gym, we all started out somewhere.
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    Mar 11, 2011 9:42 PM GMT
    Caslon17000 saidYou go to the gym.

    You pick up a weight.

    You put it down.

    Do this until you are tired.

    Then go home.


    Don't mention it. Glad to help.


    Great Cas, you just made thousands of PTs jobless! Ha-ha! icon_lol.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 15, 2011 1:42 AM GMT
    Congrats on working out!

    You can find books or resources online, but I'd also recommend getting a trainer or a patient friend who knows his way around the gym.
    Since you're a gym novice, one of the most important things right now is learning to use the proper form for your exercises. Using poor form can risk injury or, at best, is ineffective.

    Remember, consistency is key to reaching your fitness goals.
    A trainer or a workout partner will help you by being accountable to someone else.

    As you are just starting out at the gym, you might want to check out a martial arts, boxing, or yoga class. Those could all help you with your fitness goals and add enough variety so that you don't get bored with the same old routine.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 15, 2011 2:16 AM GMT
    Caslon17000 saidYou go to the gym.

    You pick up a weight.

    You put it down.

    Do this until you are tired.

    Then go home.


    Don't mention it. Glad to help.
    Or if you don't want to go to the gym, just pick up your best friend and put him down, and repeat until you're tired.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 15, 2011 4:12 AM GMT
    I agree that hiring a personal trainer is a good idea, but not everyone can afford to do that. If securing a trainer isn't an option for you, I'd recommend Body for Life by Bill Phillips. I recommend this book because it's a quick, easy to understand read and will get you going in a positive direction FAST. It also covers what foods you should be eating as well as quantities and frequency.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 15, 2011 6:23 AM GMT
    Wow with 2 posts to your history you already have 10 buddies and 461 guys on your hotlist. Maybe if you spent more time in the gym....blah blah blah
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 15, 2011 6:37 AM GMT
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  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 02, 2011 2:03 AM GMT
    jamesbi1983 saidI'm just starting to work out and I'm not sure how to start. I'm comfortable mainly with machines at this point but I know that free weights will probably be better in the long run.

    When I go to the gym, I just feel like I'm so weak that I can't really even do the exercises with any kind of weight significant enough to really gain any muscle. I know it's a long, slow process, but I'm just not sure what I should be focusing on as I'm beginning.

    My main goals are to increase bulk of my chest and arms. I know I'm never going to be huge, and I don't obsess about being totally cut or anything. I know you have to eat to gain, but when I was doing that I felt like I was just putting on fat, or just gaining size in areas that didn't matter to me, like my midsection. I've subsequently lost about 10 lbs of that weight.

    I know I must not be working as hard as I can because it's not like I'm sweating through my shirt or anything. My heart rate increases though. I just don't feel like I can physically lift more weight than I do, I try to increase the weight, but I literally cannot do the reps. Should I start out with a lower weight and do lots of reps or use heavier weight and do less reps?

    Please help me figure out how I should be starting working out. It's so frustrating going to the gym and feeling like I can hardly even do the exercises and feeling like I can never really make any gains that way.


    I feel the same way. I'm 5'11'' and I weight 143 lbs, but the only difference between you and I is that I'm a runner. I run 12 miles a week. Yet; I would love to go to the gym and gain muscle mass or add definition to my body. At the moment I just don't pay any mind to it, but sometimes it frustrates me... I just want to look good.. LOL..

    I'm also a full-time student; and I work full-time too... Is just too much to do in a day sometimes and I just wouldn't like to go to the gym after doing all that on a day to day routine.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 02, 2011 2:19 AM GMT
    I do a set number of push ups and curl ups before going to bed and after getting up. It's an easy way to get your body into shape and helps keep your muscles stretched and warmed up, so your not as sore after doing workouts. And you don't have to do a lot of them, I do 15, but I started with 5 each.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 02, 2011 2:45 AM GMT
    leave ur ego at home all the time icon_smile.gif

    i started off as a fat weak kid..couldnt even do pushups lol. my dad agreed to hire a personal trainer for me and he taught me all the ropes (not to mention he's a very hot dad!!!! cubans are hot! :p) learn how to do the exercises right and start with the weight ur comfortable with and gradually increase it.
    changes dont occurr in 24 hours ;) be patient and ull see great results if u do everything right. get inspired too!
  • SomeSiciliano...

    Posts: 543

    Apr 02, 2011 3:34 PM GMT

    Great points from everyone here. When I got back into the fitness routine about 10 years ago, after taking most of my 20s off, I found getting a trainer to be a worthy investment. Spend the coin to get a GOOD trainer....mine has a Masters in exercise physiology. Bryan put together a plan that was customized to my innate strengths and weaknesses. He taught me correct forum and technique to maximize gains and prevent injury. Even though I no longer live in his city...we keep in touch to this day. Almost ten years and four different cities (and gyms) later...I get compliments from the staff on my proficiency....it all started from a solid educational foundation.
  • DeadLiftr

    Posts: 33

    Apr 08, 2011 3:42 AM GMT

    Honestly, you're doing well by just starting with machines. I progressed gradually into the point I'm at now (a 4 day split, with compound and isometric freeweight exercises). Starting out with machines for a solid year helped me to get the motions down and build the muscle up to the point where the movements came naturally and I was more effective at freeweights. From there, it's just adding an exercise/taking out one from your routine until you find what works best for your body.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 17, 2011 6:47 AM GMT
    im in the same boat. reading these comments is very helpful. Thanks to all who posted useful info!