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How to Succeed in the Weight Room

There is nothing more impressive than seeing a female working out in the guys section of the gym aka “the free weight area.” From time to time a brave female can be spotted away from the sea of cardio equipment and lifting some heavy dumbbells and barbells. From the other end of the gym the free weight area of your local gym can look very intimidating. My good friend Emily and once former client can testify to how scary it initially was working out in the free weight area of the gym. When I first met Emily I was caught off guard because she was clearly not a weight loss client. She didn’t have an ounce of fat on her or much muscle mass. I thought it was pretty cool that she was just looking to get stronger and build some muscle, something that is not too typical with females in general so kudos to her.

Emily moved fairly well and had no physical limitations. Like the majority of individuals new to strength training she lacked muscular coordination, body awareness, and she was weak. She couldn’t perform 1 push-up on the floor. However, she was eager to learn and most importantly she was consistent in her training. I can’t remember her not showing up or cancelling a workout. After some time Emily decided that she had gained the knowledge and confidence to continue her workouts on her own. It’s been impressive to say the least witnessing the physical progress and her enthusiasm for fitness. Emily will take over and highlight some key pointers in taking that step.

Set a goal.

When it comes to fitness, I think that having a goal to strive for makes a big difference. I started my fitness journey after I finished my first Tough Mudder. Even though I completed the course and felt proud of the accomplishment, I knew that I could have done better if I had trained properly. Once I started weight training, I set a goal of one pull-up. Once I hit one, I wanted to work towards more. By adding these small progressions over time, I am now doing sets of weighed pull-ups.

After completing two more Tough Mudders with a stronger performance, I was ready for my next challenge. I signed up for a GORUCK Challenge, a 10-12 hour overnight military inspired event with a weighted 30lb rucksack. The thought of such a crazy event scared me, so I adjusted the intensity of my training and the results started to show. I completed my first Challenge and was once again craving the next level. I have been progressing through the different events that GORUCK offers ever since and continue to push myself more each time. It if doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you! Pick a goal, and work as hard as you can to accomplish it. I promise the feeling at the end will be worth it. Then, focus on a new goal, and go through the process again!

Get over the fear.

When I stopped working with a personal trainer, I admittedly was terrified of working out in the weight room alone. One day, I took my first scoop of preworkout, and decided it was time to go for it. Once I realized that what I was feeling was normal and my arms weren’t going to explode, I felt empowered being there and performing a workout on my own. The truth is that everyone is at the gym to make a change. I learned that no one is there to judge me, even when I do the oh so awkward hip thrust. In fact, the reactions I get are quite the opposite. I have made some great friends in the weight room. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and meet people. Workout partners are great to have! If you’re worried about doing something on your own, ask for a spot. Everyone was a beginner once, and will most likely be more than willing to offer a hand.

Surround yourself with the right people.

Reaching a goal is so much easier if you have a great support system. The people I’ve met through the events that I do are some of the best and most motivated (and crazy!) people that I know. They inspire me to be stronger, both physically and mentally, on a daily basis. They’ve helped me become comfortable being uncomfortable. Sure, rucking another mile or pushing out another few reps may hurt, but that extra effort is what is going to lead to the biggest increases in strength and endurance. We share workout plans and occasionally meet to do a workout together. Having other people to hold you accountable is a big motivator. Some people work out to look better—I work out to be a stronger asset to my team. Knowing that other people may suffer due to my weakness helps me stay focused on my training and push even harder.

Do you! Don’t care about what anyone else thinks.

No matter what you do, everyone is going to have an opinion. Some may be positive and uplifting, but others may be negative and hurtful. In the different forms of media and even in general conversation, there are many different positions on females and strength training. You can read/hear varying opinions on what women should or shouldn’t look like, what they should or shouldn’t be doing. To me, none of that matters. Through strength training, I found a confidence that I never had before. I forgot about the scale, and just feel happy with what my body can accomplish. Overall, do what makes YOU happy and don’t let any negative opinions get in your way.

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