Low self confidence when lifting weights

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Cardio has always been my main form of working out, but I'm really interested in trying to gain muscle by lifting weights. I get nervous to try new things in the weight section of the gym because there are super buff girls and guys that all know what they're doing!

I'm worried I'm going to get in their way, or that they are going to judge me because I don't have proper form.

I used the smith machine today, and was proud of my workout! But I felt like a bunch of guys were watching me. I felt like I was doing something incorrectly!

Other than the obvious "who cares what people think," is there anyone else that has been able to overcome this feeling? We were all beginners at some point...
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Replies

  • Shawshankcan
    Shawshankcan Posts: 900 Member
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    Put headphones in. Realize people don't care what you're doing.
  • hill8570
    hill8570 Posts: 1,466 Member
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    Well, you were doing something incorrectly -- you were lifting in the smith :disappointed:

    Seriously, 'tho -- nobody was born buff. And a huge % of those in the gym actually know what they're doing --- buff or no. If you're not sure of form, ask for a form check (although it's a 50-50 shot that the advice you get is correct). If you're not sure if a piece of equipment is in use, ask. And as long as you're not walking between the mirrors and somebody watching their form, you're not in the way. After a couple of weeks, you'll be one of the regulars. So be nice to the next newb who shows up!
  • sunnybeaches105
    sunnybeaches105 Posts: 2,831 Member
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    Study your program, watch videos on proper form, keep a log book, focus on you, ask knowledgeable people for help and listen to what they say, remain humble and admit what you don't know, and focus on you.
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 41,867 Member
    edited May 2016
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    Are you following a program? There are numerous reasons to follow an established program and one of them is that you go in with a plan so you don't have to stand there wondering what to do next, etc. Even if you don't know what you're doing, at least you will look like you do.

    Beyond that, I think it's like anything else...anything new is generally a little uncomfortable at first. Anytime I've started a new gym it's been a little uncomfortable until I get used to those surroundings, and I know exactly what I'm doing. Over time it will just become more comfortable.

    Also, if you are able, having a good trainer for a little while doesn't hurt.

  • soccerkon26
    soccerkon26 Posts: 596 Member
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    Thank you all for the advice! Especially the parts about asking knowledgable people, being humble, following a workout plan, and possibly getting a trainer.

  • quiksylver296
    quiksylver296 Posts: 28,442 Member
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    It feels like they are watching you because there is nothing else to really look at while they are resting. It's okay. I people-watch all the time in the weight room, but I'm not judging. Well, unless I'm judging whether I want to try what they are doing. Keep it up!

    If you haven't found a specific program, Stronglifts is awesome. You can check it out at Stronglifts.com, and download the app to track your progress at the gym. 5 exercises total, so less form to worry about. Takes about 45 minutes, three times per week.
  • MalcolmX1983
    MalcolmX1983 Posts: 214 Member
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    Thank you all for the advice! Especially the parts about asking knowledgable people, being humble, following a workout plan, and possibly getting a trainer.

    Everyone has to start somewhere bro.
    Most of us felt like this.
    I'd wear a jumper to the gym when I first started, cause I felt so small and scrawny next to these guys.
    Once you've been lifting, you'll find they're very nice people.

    1. Get someone to teach you good form
    2. No one is looking at you, it's in your head.
    3. If they are looking at you, it's cause you're on the Smith, no other reason.
    4. Drop the ego and the weight and concentrate on good form when first starting out.
    5. Follow a good routine, something like 5x5 is excellent for beginners, puts on good muscle as well, especially when you're new to lifting.
    6. Smith machines, come on man.
    7. Don't curl in the squat rack.
    8. Back to point 1, make sure it's someone qualified, that knows their stuff, who teaches you good form.
    Bejng swole is not a qualification.
    10. Deadlifts and squats will make you a badass.


  • SonyaCele
    SonyaCele Posts: 2,841 Member
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    go get a few lessons with a good trainer and learn the basic lifting moves, and you will know 90% more than most of the people in the weight section. And you aren't alone in feeling out of place in the weight room, the majority of the people i see in the weight room are either friendly regulars that are glad to see new faces giving it a try, or others just like you that look like they are nervous. Only occasionally do some jerky meatheads come through, just ignore them, they are the ones with the issues and no one likes them anyways.

    and dont use the smith machine
  • singletrackmtbr
    singletrackmtbr Posts: 644 Member
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    Nothing to add. Experience breeds confidence! Keep it up!
  • Neanbean13
    Neanbean13 Posts: 211 Member
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    Definitely get a trainer that specializes in weight/strength trainer. Invest in say 6 sessions to get proper form and get a program. I was exactly same as you, just a chick scared to enter the man's domain. Got a trainer, got the knowledge behind doing a program and now I stand shoulder to shoulder with the men in the squat racks. Music in. Only do 30 mins cardiovascular a week ;) confidence comes with knowing what your doing. Plus when u start lifting heavy you are prone to injuries so it's best to get advice first and work on strength exercises that work the supporting muscles like core, lower back and glutes etc to help u with those lifts. Once you start you won't wanna stop!
  • soccerkon26
    soccerkon26 Posts: 596 Member
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    What's wrong with the smith machine? Am I missing something?

    I'm not strong enough to squat a barbell by myself.
  • MalcolmX1983
    MalcolmX1983 Posts: 214 Member
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  • beautifulwarrior18
    beautifulwarrior18 Posts: 914 Member
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    A. Everyone is staring at you. What do you expect them to do? Flex in the mirror in between sets? That would be douchey.

    B. Get over it. Part of changing your body involves stepping out of your comfort zone. Give it 6 months and people will be giving you "the nod."

    C. If you aren't sure on form ask someone to help you. You're not doing yourself any favors lifting with *kitten* form. You're right they're judging you and probably betting how long it will be before you land yourself in the Dr's office. No one will be judging you for asking for help.

    D. Get off the smith machine and get on the squat rack.
  • MalcolmX1983
    MalcolmX1983 Posts: 214 Member
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    I guess you can use the smith to get you to a level where you can squat with a bar.
    Try to incorporate some squats and lunges with Dumbbells as well.
    Kettlebells are also good for increasing strength.

    Whatever you do, please use good form.
    We don't want you to injure yourself.
  • beautifulwarrior18
    beautifulwarrior18 Posts: 914 Member
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    What's wrong with the smith machine? Am I missing something?

    I'm not strong enough to squat a barbell by myself.

    There are a lot of alternatives to barbell squats. You can just do air squats, you can do kettle bell squats, weighted vest squats, barbell squats. The problem with machines is they allow your muscles that help with stabilization (mostly your core) to be lazy because the machine stabilizes your body for you. You're much better off doing the squats I listed above. Doing those will get you to the barbell much faster than the Smith Machine.
  • hill8570
    hill8570 Posts: 1,466 Member
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    What's wrong with the smith machine? Am I missing something?

    I'm not strong enough to squat a barbell by myself.

    Smith machine constrains the bar path in an very unnatural way. Generally not good for your body, and will teach you bad habits you'll have to unlearn when you try to use a bar.

    Are you sure you can't at least squat the women's bar (it's only 15kg / 33 lb)? Or bars with fixed weights (which generally go down pretty far)? Or dumbbell squats (which are actually harder than barbell squats -- very good training)?
  • beautifulwarrior18
    beautifulwarrior18 Posts: 914 Member
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    What's wrong with the smith machine? Am I missing something?

    I'm not strong enough to squat a barbell by myself.

    There are a lot of alternatives to barbell squats. You can just do air squats, you can do kettle bell squats, weighted vest squats, barbell squats. The problem with machines is they allow your muscles that help with stabilization (mostly your core) to be lazy because the machine stabilizes your body for you. You're much better off doing the squats I listed above. Doing those will get you to the barbell much faster than the Smith Machine.

    To be honest this is true for most machines. The only machines I endorse are the rower and the bike.
  • SonyaCele
    SonyaCele Posts: 2,841 Member
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    the smith machine teaches bad form and isnt even squatting. your time in the gym is much better spent learning to squat the right way, and then adding the bar later. if you can't squat a 45 lb bar, squat one of the lighter bars or a piece of pvc, just learn the movement the correct way.
  • rawley69
    rawley69 Posts: 49 Member
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    I started out squatting with dumbbells until I got up to 50lb and then switched over to the barbell.
  • ObsidianMist
    ObsidianMist Posts: 519 Member
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    I'm not strong enough to squat a barbell by myself.

    I wasn't strong enough to squat a 45lb olympic barbell when I first started doing Stronglifts either. so I got a trainer to teach me proper form and then started out using fixed weight bars, I started with only a 15lb bar to get my strength up and focus on form. I've been doing the program for almost 2 months now and I use the olympic bar for almost all the exercises you do in stronglifts. there's nothing wrong with starting out with less weight. you're still better off squatting a 15lb fixed weight bar than using a smith machine. your weight progressively gets heavier and one day you'll be squatting that olympic bar in the squat rack and you will feel so badass.