Work Out Tips for People Who Don't Work Out

In all honesty, the gym is stressful, nerve-wracking, physically draining, judgy, and confusing. At least, it felt like that for a good long while. I used to run on the treadmill every time I went, and I thought that would give me more toned legs. I had some vague idea that my arms needed attention too, so eventually I ventured over to the most basic machine I could find, and I worked the hell out of my arms. I later found out the machine was for the back muscles. That’s all I did for the longest time before I finally discovered a whole new world of working out: lifting. I’m not going to go through specific workouts. I’m just going to go though some tips and advice that I wish I could have told little old noodle-armed, but abnormally-strong-backed me, when I first got started.

By Mallory Beck

Now you might know a little more than I did. I mean we’re all past the “lifting weights makes you manly” mindset, right? If not, google “squat booty” and take a courageous step with me off the treadmill and toward the dumbbells. Cardio is lovely for your health and if you’re a masochist, I encourage it. But if the only reason you run is because the treadmill is the only machine you know how to work, then don’t worry. There’s more out there than this painful hell you live in now. Weight lifting is super good for you and in all honesty I never enjoyed exercising until I stopped forcing myself to do what I hated and I found a routine that I liked. Instead of pretending like the endorphins after running are worth it, I can actually enjoy the process of exercising. Did I mention I hate running? I feel like I haven’t stressed that enough.

Now the rows and rows of machines are intimidating, yes. Is this a torture device? Which machine makes me sexy? Do I face this direction and pull or this direction and push? These may be just a few of the questions filling your scattered, nervous little brain as you look around frantically wondering if anyone has noticed you sweating before you’ve even done anything. Remain calm. Here’s what you do. In list format!

  1. Watch some videos. No need to learn everything at once. Just watch a few videos on how to work some basic machines or do some exercises with free weights. Pick one muscle group (legs and glutes are a great starting point) and find about 6 exercises for that muscle group. Take some screenshots of them doing the exercise, then go to the gym. Easy. When you first start, things are going to be hard. You’ll lose balance and your muscles are going to tremble involuntarily even though the weight is light. It’s just because they’ve never done this before, no biggie.

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2. Get a buddy! Things are always more fun with a friend. Even if neither of you know a thing about the gym, it is exponentially more light-hearted and less embarrassing when you can figure things out together.

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3. Get over what others think of you. This one is hard, but snapback-wearing, gallon-carrying, is-that-a-shirt-or-an-overstretched-thong-sporting guys are always going to be there and let me tell you, they are not worth your energy to impress. Just go try a machine. Don’t be shy. There’s always a little diagram on the thing anyways that shows you what to do.

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4. Diet is important, right? Right. I need to go do a ton of research, and figure out what I can and can’t eat, and get a calorie tracker, and monitor my carb intake right? Wrong. I can guarantee that you already know what you need to know about diet. I’m not saying diet can be ignored and certainly if you become more serious, you can really get down into the nitty gritty of what each calorie is doing for your body, but don’t stress yourself out unnecessarily. You know Whataburger is bad for you, and a chicken wrap is good for you. Don’t go hungry or you won’t have enough energy to work out. Fill up on stuff with energy not empty calories like soda and chips. It’s really simple stuff, honestly. You don’t have to do a ton of research. I trust your judgement.

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5. Set goals that aren’t based on a measurement. When I started to work out, I set weight goals. Even if working out left me refreshed, my meals gave me energy, and I was really liking what I saw in the mirror, I could be left feeling dejected when I stepped on the scale. I didn’t change weight for the longest time. I finally realized that a change in weight is a byproduct, not a proof, of a change in body. That goes for losing or gaining weight. You need to give your body an opportunity to improve without trying to quantify it. I know we all want our progress to be perfectly trackable but sometimes it just isn’t. Sure, take progress pics. Weigh yourself every once in a while, if you must. But sometimes results aren’t as simple as a number. You can lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. You can see a difference in your physique and not in the scale. I changed my goals from attaining a certain weight to working out a certain number of times a week. That’s a goal I can 100% accomplish. It keeps me accountable, and I feel great when I consistently achieve it.

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6. Be kind to yourself. Corny but important. You’re a human being and like the rest of that species, you’ll suck sometimes. Bad days happen. But then good days happen. The gym used to be a source of stress for me. I dreaded that treadmill and the looming mass of judging faces, but then I found my rhythm. I do stuff I love. I don’t hate myself when I’m weak or unmotivated. I just get through it and look forward to better days. Because when the day is good, the feeling is amazing. Sweating is a release; getting the weight up is an accomplishment; the gym is a sanctuary.

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