HELP… Where do I start?!
This is the most common question I get on the Weights 4 Women Facebook page. After receiving another one this week I decided to turn it into a blog post.
Please bear in mind that this answer will NOT suit everybody. This does not take into account injuries, illnesses, motor control and movement patterns etc
However, this answer does HELP a lot of people!
First of all – I would see if the gym has an instructor who can show you how to use the machines in the gym safely and effectively. This should be available in most gym.
Bonus – if you can afford to hire a good coach (do your homework), this will be the biggest return of investment you can make in terms of understanding movement patterns, muscles, exercises and programming
The reason I say machines first instead of free weights is to initially build some level of strength and stability against resistance in a controlled way (machines are fixed, less chance of injury).
Because you`re new to training, stability will be difficult under load. For example, the shoulder and hips are two of the key players here. So as a beginner I always try and get someone to use AS MANY machines as possible.
Although standing shoulder presses, squats, deadlifts, romanian deadlifts, split squats etc are fantastic exercises, they are also complex. Because they are complex there is a higher risk of injury due to you being new to weight training / instability. Because the machines take the stability control out of the lift you can start to feel where different machines target and how your muscles contract. For a beginner, this is quite important as many people don’t have the awareness of how a contracting muscle feels under resistance.
Practice contracting muscles WITHOUT any resistance and get use to what it feels like, where contracts as you shorten and lengthen muscles. If you can’t contract a muscle with no resistance, you will find it very hard to contract effectively with resistance.
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!
So initially get use to as many machines as possible. Stick to around 8-10 reps and focus on getting stronger first. Because you`re new to training and won’t be lifting heavy loads you can have very short rest periods and recover well, around 45 seconds. 2-3 sets per machine should be adequate.
Once you have built some strength over a few weeks, months – I would then have someone show you free weight exercises with dumbbells and barbells. You would have built some strength and stability by then and you can execute the exercises properly and safely. This means you can now continue to learn and progress.
As a few months pass you can then start looking at more complex exercise planning as you will know have all the tools in the box!