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First Time At The Gym? Top 4 Strength Tips For Beginners

First Time At The Gym? Top 4 Strength Tips For Beginners

Anyone who has been around the gym for an extended amount of time has most likely learned a couple of “tricks of the trade” either from experience or from others.  To be more specific, they have learned many tools, form, exercises, and lessons from injury, either their own of that of others.  However, a lot of people who may be newer to the gym or the realm of weightlifting tend to make many different mistakes that can lead to injury.

Not only can some of these mistakes result in injury, but they can also lead to an unnecessary stagnation of progress.  My hope is to address some of the “Newbie mistakes” in this article and possibly inspire a thirst for knowledge in those new to the sport or even simply the fitness lifestyle.

Ego Lifting

Now, the ego lift is something that I myself have done and the majority of time I see in the male portion of the gym population, however nothing is 100% and I have seen the occasional lady doing it as well.  Ego lifting is when any idea of form is thrown out of the window in an attempt to lift as much weight as possible.  There are many problems with this but I will start with what I feel is the most apparent.

strength training tips

  • Prevention of Injury – Let’s be honest, the only time you move backward is when you don’t get the activity in. Laziness can cause this, but an even bigger detriment is injury, to help prevent injury we should look to focus on proper form and appropriate choice of weight.
  • Loss of form with heavier weights – There are a couple reasons why this can be a hindrance to progress. As fatigue increases, form normally suffers.  This can be made worse by never having proper form in the first place due to weights that are too heavy.  This can contribute to imbalances and as fatigue sets in, those imbalances can result in failure that result in injury due to certain muscle, joint, and/or tendons being weaker.
  • Muscle activation and building muscle properly – Squat depth has a direct correlation to muscle activation, the parallel squat facilitates more activation than a partial squat. Therefore, dropping the weight to get a higher level of muscle activation could be considered as more beneficial to particular goals like possibly building bigger quadriceps (1).
  • Motor unit recruitment – A big part of strength is teaching your motor neurons to recruit and fire more efficiently. In fact, the majority of strength gains in the beginning of a lifting career can be attributed to the improvements motor unit recruitment.

Sticking to Cardio

Cardio has a ton of great health benefits, things like cardiovascular health and aiding in weight maintenance. However, building muscle tissue also helps with many different issues.  Muscle is metabolically expensive, meaning it takes more calories to maintain.  If you’re like me than it gives you a great opportunity to eat more food without putting on body fat.  Resistance training also helps battle against the age related loss of lean body mass known as sarcopenia.  Resistance training has also been shown to increase bone density and has other health benefits as well() .  Remember, doing cardio is not a bad thing, but you’re missing out big time if you completely ignore or avoid the weights.

Working Abs To Get A 6 Pack

strength training tips

Fun fact, we all have abdominals hiding underneath that tummy.  The problem isn’t building muscle there the issue for most is getting rid of what is covering them up.  While doing core strengthening exercises is a great idea for plenty of different reasons, it will not specifically target belly fat.  There is a saying “Abs are made in the kitchen”, referring that the way we eat has more impact on revealing that ice cold 6 pack than our ab routines do.

Overall Gym Etiquette

Giving unsolicited advice: Really, we are all very happy you’re in the gym working on yourself now. That doesn’t necessarily give you the right to tell us what we should be doing and how we should be doing it.  Perhaps after creating a relationship with someone it may be appropriate to give advice, but don’t be that know it all spitting out unsolicited advice in every direction.

strength training tips

Gawking: Even if you find it flattering, not everyone feels that way. Try your best not to make others feel uncomfortable.  There are plenty of people who go to the gym to train and don’t appreciate getting creeped on while they are there.

Re-racking weights and plates: This is probably more applicable to the men in the audience. Be a gentleman and don’t make the ladies put away the 45lb plates you had on the bar or the dumbbells that you left in the middle of the floor.

Cleaning up after yourself: The saying “I’m not your mother I shouldn’t have to clean up after you” most definitely applies here. If you’re a heavy sweater you probably want to wipe down the machine or bench after you use it.  If you are using chalk, which a lot of gyms do not allow because people leave a mess, make sure to clean it up.  I actually have been allowed to use chalk in gyms simply because I clean it up if I make a mess, while I’ve seen others told they are not allowed to use it.



  • Gorsuch, Joshua, et al. “The Effect Of Squat Depth On Multiarticular Muscle Activation In Collegiate Cross-Country Runners.” Journal Of Strength And Conditioning Research 9 (2013): 2619. Academic OneFile. Web. 26 Mar. 2016
  • Zavanela, Plinio M., et al. “Health And Fitness Benefits Of A Resistance Training Intervention Performed In The Workplace.” Journal Of Strength & Conditioning Research (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins) 26.3 (2012): 811-817 7p. CINAHL. Web. 7 Apr. 2016.



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