Cheat Sheet

Weight Training For Dummies

If you want to get into weight training, start by sorting fact from fiction. Don’t let stories you’ve heard about weight lifting keep you from the gym. You'll reach your fitness goals sooner by getting some simple home equipment and finding a qualified personal trainer. Follow some basic etiquette when working with a trainer and using the gym, and learn some muscle terminology so you’re comfortable with weight training.

Debunking Weight Training Myths

Don’t let a few things you may have heard about weight training keep you away from the gym. Look at these common weight training myths and the facts that debunk them so you can arm yourself with the knowledge and confidence to hit the weights head on:

Myth Reality
You’ll get huge unless you lift light weights. 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.
You’re the only one in the gym baffled by the equipment. No one 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.
Weight lifting is dangerous. If Dr. Ruth tried to hoist a 300-pound barbell overhead, that would be dangerous. But if you use good technique and common sense, you’re likely to stay injury free.
Thigh exercises will slim your thighs, and ab exercises will whittle your middle. You can’t melt the fat off any particular body part by performing exercises that target that area. There simply is no such thing as spot reducing.
Lifting weights won’t help you lose weight. Lifting weights is an essential part of a fat-loss program. Developing muscle is the only way to boost your metabolism, which can help you lose fat and keep it off.
Free weights are for muscleheads and machines are for beginners. The free-weight room of a gym isn’t a special club for bodybuilders; novices are welcome there and should make a point of learning to use dumbbells and barbells.

Bonus Weight Training Equipment

Weight training equipment can be intimidating. Fortunately, you don’t need much or have to spend much money. Be on the lookout for the following basic training equipment to help you in your weight training routine:

  • 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 tubing: Rubber tubing fits easily into your carry-on bag or your desk drawer at work and gives you a better stretch 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.

Finding a Fitness Trainer

Personal training instruction is valuable for anyone who lifts weights; even hiring a trainer for a few beginner sessions is beneficial. This list of qualifications shows what to look for when hiring a personal trainer:

  • Certification: Your trainer should have a credential from a professional organization.

  • 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 Oprah Winfrey, but can 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. And your trainer should focus on you during your sessions, not check text messages, flirt with other gym goers, etc.

Being a Good Personal Training Client

When you’re working with a personal trainer, take an active role in your weight-training sessions, aligning your behaviors with a willing participant that trainers can easily work with. Keep these things in mind to ensure you have the best trainer-client relationship possible:

  • 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 instead of to your belly button.

Practicing Good Weight Training Etiquette

At the gym, rules of weight training etiquette should be followed by everyone. After you know what’s expected of you, you’ll feel more comfortable. Adopt these rules to ensure good manners when lifting weights:

  • 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 to their designated spot on the rack.

  • 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. Use 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.

  • Don’t treat the locker room like your own bathroom. Nobody wants to become personally acquainted with clumps of your hair.

Trainer Talk: Basic Muscle Terms

You don’t need to be fluent in the language of bodybuilding competitions to design an effective workout, but you do need to familiarize yourself with common weight-training lingo. Know the following terms to describe your body’s muscles so you better understand your trainer or training materials for weight lifting.

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