In part one of this series we discussed why strength training was beneficial (If you missed that post click here)
Now lets talk about how to get started on your own personal strength training journey.
If strength training is completely new to you, then an ideal first step is going to be finding a coach or trainer to work with. Preferably in person, but this day in age online is also a solid option. One-on-one coaching will give you the most concentrated attention to detail, and you don’t have to do it forever. Long enough to get a solid foundation, twice a week for 12 weeks is the shortest time I’d recommend.
I’m going to take this opportunity to call out something that makes me just an angry as women being told not to strength train, and that’s people actually getting hurt working with a trainer. Accidents happen, but stupid shit also happens when people don’t pay attention or have an agenda that has nothing to do with you and your goals.
Here are a couple things you might not know if you are new to a gym setting.
Not all trainers/ coaches are created equal.
The barrier to entry in the fitness industry is pretty low, and in the online space it’s even lower. Credentials are an important thing to inquire about and even then some of those are better then others.
I am partial to NSCA, ACSM, and NASM when it comes to the “governing bodies” that oversee personal training and strength training. I can attest to the fact that in order to pass those tests you have to have a decent knowledge of how the body works. Also, most people that have a degree in exercise science or the like have at least one of those designations under their belts. Is it the end all be all? No, but it is a solid place to start.
If the trainer you are interested in doesn’t have a certification (which they may not), ask them about their experience. What do they do for continued education? How do they stay current on information? See if you can speak to one of their current clients. Look into it as deeply as you need to in order to feel good about the decision.
Trainers in “Big” gyms work on commission.
That doesn’t mean they don’t know what they are doing. There are many trainers in big-box gyms all over the country helping change people’s lives. But it can mean they are really good at sales and telling you that you need something significantly more then you actually do because they need to hit their numbers for the month. Sorry not sorry, I hate pushy slimy sales which is why I have never worked in a gym like that. I’m not going to tell you something you don’t need, the time in the gym is about YOU, not me, and that’s how it should be.
If the trainer you get set up with does more talking about themselves then listening to you, mark that a red flag.
As I said above, training a client is about their needs and goals, not what the trainer has accomplished as a trainer or athlete. You are hiring this person to teach you a new skill, something that can be dangerous if not advised in an intentional manner. If you don’t feel heard in that first meeting, it’s acceptable to ask for someone else.
There should be some kind of movement assessment and paperwork before you actually begin lifting anything.
Even elite level athletes have basic movement patterns they need to revisit, and a pattern that isn’t ideal needs to be addressed before a movement is loaded. Injuries happen when people get over zealous. In most facilities you will have to fill out some fairly extensive paperwork about your health (past and present). It is equally as important for you to disclose all information as it is for your coach to collect it. Injuries that may seem inconsequential to you, could be a piece of the puzzle that we need to know in order to plan accordingly.
You can fire your trainer/ coach at any time.
The only bad part here might be how much money you are out, but if at any time you are unhappy or just not jiving with your trainer you can cut the cord. As a trainer myself I hope if you didn’t feel like you were getting what you paid for that you would speak up. We are adults here, so conversation is a two-way street. But if even after you converse, you don’t feel heard #girlbye.
My point is discussing all of this is not to discourage you from getting started, quite the opposite really. If I had to sum it up in one sentence it would be this- make sure the person you are working with is someone you feel better being around. Your trainer or coach should be assisting you towards your goals, and overall it should be an interaction that adds value to your life, not sucks the life out of you.
If hiring a coach is not in your budget, there are many other options out there to get you started. Fitness apps abound, and there are some great coaches out there that put educational and helpful content out on their social media, blogs and websites. The internet can also be a black hole of less then optimal information so proceed with caution.
Besides my own content (found here and here) below are other resources I send people to when they ask about various topics and would like to do some reading on their own.
To wrap this up, if you are new to strength training, one of the best things you can do for yourself is hire a coach or trainer to get you started. Having their eyes on you to watch for things you are likely not aware of, as well as use consented tactile cuing are attributes that you cannot get from going the journey on your own. Find someone you like and feel can help you to reach the goals you have for yourself.
If I resonate with you, then let’s connect. You can reach me me by leaving me a comment below, DMing me on social media, emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can apply for my coaching program here.
The third and final installment of this series will be things you should know about strength training to get the most out of your workouts. Have a great week!