Going to the gym: A Beginner’s Guide

Stepping into the world of fitness can sometimes be intimidating especially if you’re around people who have been in the game for quite some time now not to mention the various equipment and gear you may know little or nothing about. But something to keep in mind that can ease your worries is that most of the people in the gym go through the same phase any beginner goes through.

But when hitting the gym there are things you need to know and consider such as what to wear, what to bring, what equipment to use and who to approach when you have questions. And even if it may seem kind of hard to remember, it’s actually pretty simple once you start hitting the gym and soon you’ll get used to these things. But to give you a little push of confidence and knowledge, Strength After Thirty has made a guide for beginners when going to the gym down below:

What to wear at the gym

What you wear at the gym plays a role in how you perform since this can disrupt your workouts and not only make it uncomfortable but also prevent you from proper movement and flexibility when doing sets, reps and lifts. So it’s essential to prioritise your gym outfits. Go for comfortable ones, allow movement and flexibility, are breathable and light in weight. Here are some tips and more options of what to wear at the gym:

Stretchable clothing

Stretchable clothing is a great option to use when working out. This is probably one of the most common gym attire around and it’s usually made of synthetic material such as nylon, acrylic, polyester and spandex. Clothing with these fabrics will keep your outfit dry, allow more movement and flexibility, are lightweight and lastly provide you with utmost comfort when working out.

Dry fit shirts

When packing an extra shirt make sure to make it a point to bring breathable and lightweight shirts preferably, the ones with dry-fit material. Shirts that are thick, heavy and restricting can significantly affect your workout causing constriction of movement and more exhaustion than you’d usually feel. Plus thick fabrics absorb sweat in a bad way since it makes the shirt heavier than it already is, not to mention these types of shirts usually stay damp which can be bad for your health.

What shoes to wear

Before settling for an old pair of sneakers, consider using running shoes or training shoes when hitting the gym. Go for ones that are comfortable, non-restricting, lightweight and most importantly something that fits you perfectly. What shoes you decide to use will play a huge role when it comes to working out since they provide support for your feet when lifting, balancing, doing reps and sets.


You may not think underwear can still have an impact when working out but they do especially for women. Before heading to the gym make sure to set aside your everyday bras and stick to a sports bra when working out. This will provide support and comfort when doing cardio, reps and any high impact movements. For men, it’s recommended to use briefs rather than any other underwear you might have at home. Make sure the material of your underwear is either cotton, lightweight and breathable.


Don’t make the terrible mistake of wearing formal socks with running shoes while choosing socks for the gym. Select white or grey socks that are breathable and comfy to workout in. Socks made of acrylic or an acrylic mix are recommended. The fabric used in formal socks doesn’t hold moisture as well as cotton or wool, which can cause blisters and other foot issues.

What to bring

Before heading to the gym make sure you are ready and have all the essentials you might need before and after working. This will include extra shirts, water, towels and many more so when planning to head over to the gym make sure to pack these essentials in your gym bag:

  • Extra shits
  • Water bottle
  • Face towels
  • Extra underwear
  • Extra shorts
  • Going home clothes
  • Toiletries
  • Slippers
  • Gym gear such as lifting gloves and so on
  • Hair ties and clips
  • Something sweet in case your sugar-level drops

How to use basic gym equipment

One of the most common fears among beginners is mishandling gym equipment especially in front of gym veterans but in actuality, most people in the gym started not knowing as well. On a more positive note, you can try asking gym veterans for help instead of feeling intimidated by them and gyms usually have a community that is more than willing to help you with any of your questions. But of course, it’s always a good idea to be prepared and know the types of gym equipment and their functions, here’s a guide of basic gym equipment you’re bound to find in any gym:

Squat rack

When stepping into a gym you’re bound to see at least one or two squat racks. And as a beginner, you are most likely to handle one of these. A squat rack is essentially a rack that helps you with lifts especially if you’re lifting pretty heavyweights. This will provide support and proper form when lifting, not to mention this can also prevent accidents such as dropping the barbells, having the weight fall on you, back injuries and so on. Most exercises done on a squat rack are barbell back squats and barbell deadlifts.

Cable and pulleys

For someone who does not know gym equipment, you’re most certainly going to get confused when dealing with cables and pulleys. This equipment is essential for your upper body that connects the cables to some weight you can alter. You pull on this while focusing on your upper body whether it’s your back, chest or arms. You can observe how other people use it at the gym to give you a better idea. Most exercises done on cable and pulleys are triceps extensions, chest isolation exercises, bicep isolation exercises and cable flies.

LAT machine

A LAT machine is typically like the cable and pulley but this machine just allows you to hit the different points of your back and arms. This machine allows you more movement depending on how you grip the bars since hand placement plays a huge role when using this machine. Most exercises done on LAT machines are wide-grip LAT pull-downs, V-bar pull-down, reverse close-grip LAT pull-down and behind-the-neck LAT pull-down.

Dipping bars

Dipping bars are also one of the most common gym equipment you’ll be able to find in any gym. This can be used for tons of different types of exercises for your chest, legs, arms and so on. It’s simple and pretty easy to use. That’s a piece of great equipment to add to your workout routine as a beginner. The most commonly done exercises for this equipment are leg raises, bodyweight rows and dips.

Leg curl machine

A leg curl machine can provide you with great workouts for your lower extremities. It’s a great method to exercise your hamstrings whether you’re sitting or lying down. While using the leg curl machine, ensure it’s adjusted to your height and that you’re holding on to the machine’s grips for support.

Shoulder press machine

As the name implies, the shoulder press machine is a version of the sitting barbell shoulder press and is designed to develop your shoulder muscles. If you want to target your shoulders in a more controlled setting, this is a fantastic option. It is important to remember that you should perform this exercise carefully and slowly, instead of attempting to lift more weight with sloppy, snappy movements.

Seated row machine

The rowing machine is also a terrific method to exercise your back muscles, rear delts and also your biceps and forearms if you’re attempting to focus on your back. The notion that you will be working with the same degree of resistance throughout your workout makes this machine a slightly better choice than free weights. Which means that most of your muscles will be treated equally. You can execute the rows with both hands at the same time or one at a time, and the varied grips you can use provide for varying levels of movement.

Who to approach

Despite the advantage of having tons of people to ask for help from at the gym it’s always a better idea to inquire with a specialist. Most gyms offer trainers that can help you through your workout by guiding you on how to do proper forms, what equipment to use and how to use it, reps and sets and even providing you with a full workout plan to do every day. And once you’re familiar with the equipment, proper forms and procedures you can then do your workouts by yourself.

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