You want to go to the gym to lose weight, but you don’t know what to do or where to start.
Perfect. You’re in the right place.
At the end of this article, you will find a full week of works to do when you start going to the gym to lose weight.
Before you jump ahead though, I have a few tips that I think could help you quite a bit.
They’re tips that I wish I knew when I first started going to the gym.
The gym can be an overwhelming and intimidating place.
For at least the first year that I started going to the gym, I mostly wandered around trying to figure out what to do next.
Or on my phone trying to find some random workout off of Instagram.
I’m hoping I can help you save some of that time wasted and have you hit the ground running on your fitness journey.
12 Tips on what to do at the gym to lose weight:
Define your goal.
Most people will say to “lose weight”.
Many of you actually want to lose fat though.
Aren’t those the same thing?
Nope. Not at all.
I first thought I wanted to “lose weight” too.
But after I lost the weight, I still didn’t look the way I wanted.
See, I actually wanted to look lean and toned.
For that, we need to burn fat and build muscle.
Most weight loss programs will have you eating like a bird and doing a bunch of cardio.
Yes, you will lose weight fast, but it won’t necessarily be fat.
A lot of that weight lost will be water weight and even your muscle.
Often referred to as “skinny fat”.
So do you want to lose weight, or do you want to lose fat and get lean and toned?
Find a plan.
Okay, so you have your goal, you’re at the gym, now what do you to to reach it?
The easiest way is to find a plan that fits that goal.
I wasted so. much. time. piecemealing together random workouts and diets I found online.
Every time I saw some new over-promising diet I’d jump ship in hopes it would get me to my goals faster.
What finally got me to my goal was finding a plan made for that goal.
One with solid fundamentals and sticks to proven basics.
Believe it or not, THAT is the fastest way to reach your goal. (Trust me, I’ve been through the wringer.)
Not the fad diet that will have you binge eating by Saturday.
How do you find a plan?
There are lots of good plans online.
Obviously, I’m a bit biased towards my own though.
If your goal is to be lean and toned, that is exactly what mine is designed for and I would LOVE to be able to help you reach that goal.
You can read more about it from the link below.
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Review the plan beforehand.
The easiest way to know what to do at the gym is to review and plan right before you go.
Once you have your plan, make sure you review it and understand everything you need to do before you get to the gym.
For example, there are a lot of common “workout” words that you’ll want to understand beforehand.
Here are some of the most common:
- Barbell: One long bar, on which you add weight to each end. Requires two hands to pick up.
- Dumbbell: A short bar with pre-attached weights. Requires only one hand to pick up.
- Exercise: A specific movement with a specific piece of equipment. For example, “Barbell Bench Press” is a different exercise than “Machine Bench Press.” Also, “Machine Shoulder Press” is different than “Machine Chest Press.”
- Rep: One single “repetition” of an exercise. If I lift up a barbell on the bench, bring it down to my chest, and push it back up, that is one single “Rep.”
- Set: A single series of “Reps.” If I pick up the barbell, do 10 “Reps,” and put it back on the bench, that was “A set of 10.” So below, when the program instructs you to perform “3 sets of 10,” that means you pick up the bar, perform 10 full repetitions, and put it back down. Take a 30-second break. Repeat another 10 reps. Take a 30-second break. Perform another 10 reps. That’s “3 sets of 10.”
- Circuit: “A circuit workout consists of a series of exercises performed one right after the other with little or no rest in between. The word circuit refers to the series of 8 to 12 exercises that make up the workout. An entire circuit workout typically consists of 3 to 5 repetitions of the circuit with about one or two minutes rest in between each circuit.” – TheActiveTimes
- Superset: A superset is a form of strength training in which you move quickly from one exercise to a separate exercise without taking a break for rest in between the two exercises.
Review that day’s workout and understand each movement.
When you first get your plan, you might quickly skim through the workouts but you likely won’t look at each one in depth.
It is a good idea to review that specific day’s workout before you leave for the gym though.
This way, when you get to the gym you’ll know exactly what to do.
This will help you save time when you’re there and help you have a more effective workout.
When reviewing your workout, I recommend Googling any of the movements that you’re not sure how to preform.
YouTube is also a great place to see an actual video of the movement.
If it is your first day at the gym or even doing a specific movement you’ve heard of before it’s still a good idea to look up a quick video on it.
Squats for example, most people have heard of them, but watching a video on how to preform them correctly is still important because there is a lot of small details that go into it.
How long is a good workout at the gym?
I get this question a lot and there really is no right or wrong answer.
It just depends on your goals and the workout you’re doing.
On average, a typical weight lifting workout is roughly an hour, but that is a very rough estimate.
What to wear for a gym workout?
This one is simple, whatever makes you feel comfortable!
If you’re look for some examples on what to wear at the gym though, the most common things I see are:
For women, leggings, sweats or active wear shorts. Paired with a tank top, tshirt, sports bra, or hoodie.
Men I’ve seen in the gym are usually wearing sweats or gym shorts paired with a tshirt, hoodie or tank.
But again, as long as you feel you can move around comfortably that’s most important!
Try a set with bodyweight.
When you start going to the gym, the first few times you do an exercise, I recommend doing it with very little or no weight.
Try it out a few times like this before adding weight to the movement.
This will help you perfect the form more easily and make sure you feel it working the correct muscles.
It’s also still something I do to this day for certain exercises.
Can you substitute exercises?
If you come to an exercises in your plan that you don’t feel comfortable doing or is hurting something when you do it, it’s okay to substitute that movement.
For example, if your plan says to do deadlifts, but you can’t do those for some reason..
Simply Google “deadlift alternatives” and you will get a variety of other options that work the same muscle groups.
Diet. Diet. Diet.
This one isn’t technically about how to start going to the gym, but I felt it was important to mention because…
No matter what your goal is, your nutrition should be top priority.
There’s a saying “you can’t out workout a bad diet”.
What that’s highlighting is the fact that no matter how good your workout is, if you diet isn’t right, it will not get you the results you want.
How do you know what you should be eating?
That’s a whole topic instelf, which you can read here.
No one is paying attention to you.
This is not meant in a rude way at all..
What I mean is..
Often a fear people have when they start going to the gym is that they are going to look silly
Or that people will be judging them and able to tell they don’t know what they’re doing.
As someone who spends 5 days a week in the gym..
I can assure you unless you are doing something CRAZY (and I mean crazy crazy) no one is watching you.
Everyone is there for their own purpose and paying attention to their own workout.
Also, if you take my time to look up your workout before going so you can learn the basic form..
I promise you’ll be fine and probably better off than half the people in there who are just guessing what the form should be.
If you still don’t feel comfortable, another option is to go early in the morning or later at night when there are few people there.
I only suggest this one because I know this feeling when you first start going to the gym and that is what I did to be able to get more comfortable.
Full Week of Workouts for When You Start Going to the Gym
For a full 8 weeks worth of workouts, please check out my full diet and exercise plan below:
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- 2 x 15 leg extension
- 2 x 15 leg curl
- 4 x 20 wide leg press
- 4 x 20 shoulder-width smith machine squat
- 4 x 15 leg extensions
- 4 x 15 narrow stance hack squat
- 4 x 15 leg curls
- 4 x 15 stiff legs
- 4 x 12 side lateral raise
- 4 x 15 one arm dumbbell shoulder press
- 4 x 15 rear lateral raise
- 5 x 15 incline press
- 4 x 15 pushdowns
- 4 x 12 bench dips
- 5 x 12 wide-grip pulldowns
- 4 x 15 cg cable row
- 4 x 20 hyper extensions
- 5 x 15 preacher curls
- 5 x 12 incline dumbbell curls
- 2 x 20 leg extensions
- 2 x 20 leg curls
Do the following exercises four times in a circuit, without resting between moves. Rest 1 minute between rounds.
- 10 wide high jumps (Tip: Jump as high as possible and hold for 5 seconds in a deep squat after each jump.)
- 15 switch lunges on each leg
- 10 stepup jumps on bench on each leg
- 15 reverse lunges on each leg
- 10 gallop squats on each leg
- 4 x 10 shoulder press
- 4 x 10 wide-grip pull downs
- 4x 15 each leg butt machine
- 4 x 15 good mornings
- 5 x 10 high bench step ups