I work with a lot of high-achieving women who don’t always love being a beginner at something. Us perfectionists? We like to get things right away! We’re quick to want to look at the end goal, and we definitely don’t like to appear incompetent.
But I’m here today to remind you that there’s so much beauty in the process of mastering a new skill. There’s also a big difference between incompetence and learning!
Being a beginner is nothing to be ashamed of, and in fact, when it comes to strength training, being a beginner is kind of awesome! It’s definitely a time when you’ll see the most linear progress (my seasoned lifters will remember these days!), and it’s also when most people will see a shift in their body composition, as they will start to build muscle and lose fat at the same time.
Let’s talk about a few other things that will happen when you are just starting out with a strength training journey (or returning to one after a long hiatus), so that you can know what to expect as you are first adjusting and as you continue with the habit consistently.
6 Things That Happen When You Start Strength Training
1. The movements will feel a little awkward.
When a child learns to walk, it’s not smooth sailing right out of the gate. They stumble for sure, and it’s no different when you are learning new strength moves. It’s totally normal to feel a little jittery as you get used to new movement patterns and potentially new equipment. Your body might never have done this before, so be patient with yourself. Give it some time to learn how to perform the movements correctly, and trust that each subsequent time you practice the exercise, you’ll feel a little more fluid. This is why starting small is so important, so you don’t get completely overwhelmed out of the gate!
2. You will feel sore.
This is inevitable when placing any new challenge on your body. Let’s normalize it – being sore does not mean you are injured or that something is wrong. You may have some limited range of motion or feel like it’s challenging to walk up the stairs or sit on the toilet, but you should not feel pain. There’s a big difference! I recommend if you are first starting out, that you start out with just 1 or 2 sets and slowly work your way up to 3 or more. Take a few recovery days as needed, but then get right back to it again – as long as you keep training, it does get better. Your body will start adapting and not be as sore the next time!
3. Linear progress will be at its highest.
When you are a beginner strength trainer, you’ll see your highest rate of progression. What does this mean? It means that you’ll be able to jump from 10 pound weights to 15 pound weights to 20 pound weights much faster than when it’s time to progress from 20 to 25 to 30. It means you can squat with just the barbell at 45 pounds and be up to using the “big girl plates” within months! This means you can get stronger at a faster pace than when you’ve been at it for a few years.
4. Daily activities become easier.
One of my favorite kind of update to get from a client after they start a new training program with me is a text like, “I just carried my groceries in all in one trip!” or “I just made it up 4 flights of stairs without needing to take a break!” or “I just pushed my suitcase into the overhead bin without anyone on the plane helping me.” You’ll find that activities that used to tire you out won’t anymore, and you’ll also shock yourself at how much improved energy you’ll have. Strength training also doesn’t just help you perform daily tasks with more ease, such as carrying your toddler, but it also helps you in your hobbies and other activities. For example, where my runners at?! I have yet to meet a runner who isn’t wowed by how much strength training helps their running performance.
5. You start carrying yourself differently.
When you get uncomfortable in the weight room, you will build confidence, and this confidence translates directly into other areas of life for sure. You’ll stand a little taller, walk differently, and feel a little more sure of yourself, one day at a time. Establishing a consistent strength training routine definitely helped me build the confidence to speak up for myself, have hard conversations, leave a job that wasn’t satisfying to me, and more. Same with my clients. My girls have asked for raises, they’ve left long-term relationships, they’ve had the courage to move across the country. Lift hard things, do hard things.
6. You become addicted to seeing what your body is capable of.
It’s not uncommon for women to start strength training without the intention of getting super strong, such as starting out with a goal of deadlifting 200 pounds or more. What I tend to see more of: women who want to start because they know the benefits, but aren’t sure where to begin or want to move past their haphazard routine. But what I find is, once you start realizing what your body is capable of doing, you are excited to keep going. Everyone has that moment in their journey when they surprise themselves in the weight room with something they didn’t think they could do. “I could do that?!” turns into “what else can I do?.” This is incredibly empowering because it takes the focus away from what your body looks like and instead allows you to set performance based goals. I find this tends to be the turning point for many women who have years under their belt focusing only on being smaller. Now? Smaller feels meh. Instead, you want to train to be stronger, to feel more capable, for the endorphin boost, and to feel accomplished. Maybe just because you feel like it and strength training is now a part of who you are.
If you are a beginner, I would love to hear from you when you start noticing these 6 things start to reveal themselves. And, if you’ve been at it a while, I’d love to hear from you too. Leave a comment on this blog post, and tell me about how you got started, what daily activities started feeling easier to you, that moment in the gym where you surprised yourself, etc.
Want more strength training tips? I invite you to join my free Facebook community, the Legit Fit Lifestyle Lounge. The members of this group know that fitness is so much more than a number on the scale or the size of our jeans, and we focus on the 4 pillars of living a legit fit lifestyle: movement, nutrition, self care, and mindset. All month long next month, we will be focusing on STRONGTOBER as our theme! You can request to join here!