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Five Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Lifting

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Wisconsin chapter.

Learn from my mistakes

Stepping into the weight room was one of the best decisions I ever made. Trust me, I completely understand how intimidating it can be. The gym bros slamming weights is far from welcoming—not to mention the overly complicated machines—but this list of things I wish I knew when I started will certainly make you more comfortable. Whether you’re getting bored of cardio, stepping into a gym for the first time, or are just looking to build some muscle, you’ve come to the right place.

1. Everyone feels embarrassed

Even after two years of lifting, I am far from perfect. From falling off of the treadmill, to failing plenty of lifts, I have embarrassed myself in the gym in just about every way possible. There are still times where I try a new machine and have no idea how it works, or attempt a new exercise and give up because I can’t figure it out. It’s easy to think that everyone knows what they’re doing, but I promise you no one is an expert. Failing is a part of the process and will only make you stronger (literally) so don’t be afraid to try new things and make mistakes along the way.

2. Rest is just as important as the workout

When I first started lifting, I thought the more I worked out, the better, without understanding that this mindset does more harm than good. In order to grow and get stronger, your muscles need time to recover. So, prioritizing sleep, rest, nutrition and hydration in between workouts is crucial. It’s also important to wait at least a day between training the same muscle group. Confession: I used to train legs multiple days in a row thinking I was just crazy committed. Please, please don’t do this.

3. No one is judging you

During my first few weeks in the weight room, I was extremely worried about who was looking at me and if I looked like I had any idea what I was doing. In reality, everyone is so focused on themselves that they really aren’t caught up with what anyone else is doing. Regardless of how long someone has been lifting, everyone was new to the gym at some point, so even if they are looking at you, they’re probably just supporting you from afar.

4. Don’t be afraid to switch things up

Feeling unmotivated is completely normal, but trying new exercises, making a new playlist or going at a different time keeps me from never getting bored of the gym. Personally, I find any way I can to rationalize buying new gym clothes, so when feeling unmotivated, buying a new sports bra never fails to make me excited for my next workout. Plus, nothing beats a Gymshark sale, so I highly recommend taking advantage of it.

5. It’s all about balance

Don’t let the gym take over your entire life! While living a healthy lifestyle is important, becoming too obsessed with it can get unhealthy real quick. It’s crucial to make fitness sustainable, so creating an unrealistic workout split and restrictive lifestyle will not be attainable long-term. The gym is supposed to add to your life, not take away from it, so don’t be afraid to keep enjoying all the foods you love, move in ways that make you happy and skip a workout if you’re not feeling it.

As scary as the weight room can be, I promise that the more you go, the more comfortable you’ll feel. So stop letting your fear of judgment get in your way and just start. I promise you won’t regret it!

Megan Basil

Wisconsin '26

Hi! My name is Megan and I am a freshman at UW-Madison. I am currently thinking of studying environmental science or biology! In my free time I like going to the gym, rock climbing, journaling, and spending time with friends. I am so excited to start writing for Her Campus.