Cheat Sheet

Weight Training For Dummies (Australia/New Zealand Edition)

Want to try weight training, but not sure where to start? Start by dispelling some myths about weight training. Then check out tips on weight training equipment, picking your trainer and getting the most from your personal training sessions, behaving at the gym, and becoming acquainted with common muscles used in weight training. Now, no more excuses — get down to the gym!

Dispelling Myths about Weight Training

So many common beliefs about weight training are just simply untrue. Here are a heap of myths about weight training; read on and learn the truth!

  • Myth #1: You’ll get huge unless you lift light weights.

    Reality: The only way your muscles will burst the seams of your dress shirts is if you regularly lift extremely heavy weight repetitions — and if you have a body type that will even allow for the development of mega muscles.

  • Myth #2: You're the only one in the gym baffled by the equipment.

    Reality: Nobody is born knowing how to operate the Assisted Dip Machine or perform a Decline Chest Fly! Weight training equipment can baffle even the sharpest of minds.

  • Myth #3: Weight lifting is dangerous.

    Reality: If Justin Bieber tried to hoist a 100-kilogram barbell overhead, that would be dangerous. But if you use good technique and common sense, you're likely to stay injury-free.

  • Myth #4: Thigh exercises will slim your thighs, and ab exercises will whittle your middle.

    Reality: You cannot melt the fat off of any particular body part by performing exercises that target that area. There simply is no such thing as spot reducing.

  • Myth #5: Lifting weights won’t help you lose weight.

    Reality: Lifting weights is an essential part of a weight loss program. Developing muscle is the only way to boost your metabolism, which can help you lose fat and keep it off.

  • Myth #6: Free weights are for muscleheads and machines are for beginners.

    Reality: The free weight room of a gym is not a special club for bodybuilders; novices are welcome there and should make a point of learning to use dumbbells and barbells.

Weight Training Equipment for Your Fitness Workout

Although you don’t need much equipment to get started in weight training (apart from weights, of course!), getting hold of a few pieces of equipment will hugely benefit your fitness regime.

  • An adjustable weight bench: Although you can perform dozens of exercises with dumbbells alone, a weight bench gives you far more versatility.

  • Weight lifting gloves: Gloves give you a firmer grip on the weights, protect the skin on your palms, and make you look like a pro.

  • A personal trainer: A gifted trainer can get you over the learning curve in a hurry and, in just a few sessions, teach you technique tips that last a lifetime.

  • Exercise bands: Rubber bands fit easily into your carry-on bag or your desk drawer at work and give you a better strength workout than you might imagine.

  • A weight training diary: Tracking the details of your workouts provides you with valuable feedback and the inspiration to keep lifting.

What to Look for in a Fitness Trainer

Any personal trainer can help you get fit, but to get the most value from the fees you pay, you need to find a fitness trainer who motivates you to work hard and achieve results. When interviewing personal trainers, we suggest you look for these assets:

  • Certification: Your trainer should have credentials from one of the professional organisations in Australia or New Zealand. Look for certifications from:

    • Australian Institute of Fitness

    • Fitness Institute Australia (FIA)

    • New Zealand Institute of Sport

    • A TAFE or University

  • A personality that’s compatible with yours: Do you prefer a cheerleader or a drill sergeant?

  • Good teaching skills: Your trainer may have a PhD in physiology and be more congenial than Rosie O'Donnell, but can he or she teach you to do a push-up?

  • Personal attention: A trainer shouldn’t give the same program to a 65-year-old woman and a professional hockey player.

How to Be a Good Personal Training Client

When you sign up with a personal trainer, you’re not employing a counsellor or a mind-reader. Here are some simple tips for maintaining a good relationship with your trainer:

  • Show up on time. Trainers are professional people with busy schedules and bills to pay, so show them some courtesy.

  • Have a good attitude. Your trainer doesn’t want to hear you whine about your boss or your latest speeding ticket.

  • Listen to your trainer. When your trainer advises you to perform 12 repetitions per set, don’t say, ‘My stockbroker said I should do 40.’

  • Speak up. Don’t be afraid to ask why you pull a bar down to your chest rather than to your belly button.

Weight Training Etiquette

Gyms are public places, and everyone wants to have an enjoyable workout. If you want to make friends with your fellow gym-goers, here are some top tips for good gym etiquette:

  • Share the equipment. Don’t take a nap on a machine you’re not using.

  • Keep the grunting to a minimum. A weight room isn’t a public library, but neither is it a championship wrestling arena.

  • Return your weights. The weights have a designated spot on the rack — make sure you put them where they belong.

  • Don’t hog the drinking fountain. If the line behind you is longer than a World Series ticket line, don’t fill your entire water bottle.

  • Don’t bring your gym bag into the weight room. You know those large, hollowed out cubes called lockers?

  • Keep your sweat to yourself. Carry a towel and wipe off any bench or machine that you use.

  • Treat the locker room like your own bathroom. Nobody wants to become personally acquainted with clumps of your hair.

Talking Like a Fitness Pro: A Glossary of Your Muscles

Want to understand what your fitness trainer is talking about? (Nothing's more embarrassing than flexing your arms when asked to stretch your hams . . .) Here’s a quick rundown of some words you’ll hear around the gym:

Slang Translation Slang Translation
Pecs Chest Tris Rear of upper arms
Traps Upper back Abs Front midsection
Lats Middle back Glutes Butt
Delts Shoulders Quads Front thighs
Bis Front of upper arms Hams Rear thighs
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