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4 Ways to Feel Stupidly Confident at the Gym

4 Ways to Feel Stupidly Confident at the Gym

It’s easy to feel judged or intimidated at the gym, especially when you’re surrounded by regular gym-goers who always seem so confident. Sometimes, when they’re posing in the mirror or grunting obnoxiously, it can be downright annoying.

And when you see them doing squats or bench presses with so much weight on the bar you can barely count that high, it’s just incredible.

How can you learn to be so confident at the gym?

1) Have a Plan

Have you ever wandered around the gym wondering what to do next? I know I did when I was starting out, trying to look like I knew what I was doing while I snuck a peek at the pictures on each machine to figure out what on earth it’s used for.

Actually doing exercise is the easy part. In between sets, when you aren’t sure what to do, is when you start to get up in your own head.

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In order to fix that problem, find or put together a specific workout to follow. Know how to do every exercise before you set foot in the gym, so you don’t have to spend time awkwardly looking up video demonstrations between sets.

With a specific program to follow, you can flow easily from exercise to exercise. It doesn’t even matter if it’s a great program (my first one certainly was not). Find a program that looks good and follow it. You can always switch once you build up some confidence.

2) Focus on Your Exercise

Looking around at insanely fit people is a great way to feel weak and nervous at the gym. Comparing yourself to fit people can be a nightmare.

It’s also hard to stop comparing yourself. Especially when you see them doing the same exercises, but a million times better.

In order to redirect your attention, do a simple mindfulness exercise. The most common mindfulness exercises involve focusing on your breath, which is a fine thing to do between sets. Simply count each breath, feeling it exit your body and starting over every time you reach 10. Once your keyed in on your breath, you’ll find it harder to focus on other things.

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During sets, you’re already engaged in mindfulness. Personal trainers and strength coaches just call it “cueing.”

If you’ve ever been told to “push through your heels” (for a squat) or “bend the bar” (for a bench press), you’ve done a mindfulness exercise. The cues you use are different for each exercise, but having them and focusing on them takes your attention away from more negative thoughts.

3) Out-logic the Haters

If you’ve ever told an experienced gym-goer that you feel judged in the gym, they might told you not to worry about it because “no one is judging you.”

For the most part, that’s true. But being told that and believing it are two very different things. To train yourself to believe it (or ignore people that are judging), try using a technique from cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Write down the things that people might be thinking about you. Below that, logic them away; put together an argument for why people aren’t judging you at all, or why it doesn’t matter if they do.

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The argument that helped me the most was asking “so what?” The progression of thoughts went like this:

  • So people are judging you, so what?
  • If people are judging you, they probably think less of you. So what?
  • If they think less of you, you won’t be friends with them. So what?
  • You don’t know these people, and them judging you can’t actually affect your workout unless you let it. Problem solved!

Your examples might be different, but working through them on paper helps you get to the root of the problem and deal with it.

4) Become Part of the Gang

It almost seems strange to think “I don’t feel fit enough to go to the gym.” After all, gyms are place for people to get fit, and no one magically becomes fit over night.

Still, not feeling like you belong in the gym is a very real and common problem. How can you fix it?

Learning the etiquette and unspoken rules of the gym can help. Things like re-racking your weights, knowing how to ask for a spot, and not hogging specific pieces of important equipment can help you out. Wearing real gym clothes instead of eight-year-old basketball shorts and a t-shirt can also help you feel more at home and fit in.

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But the real answer here is time.

As you get more familiar with your routine and your gym, you’ll start to feel more comfortable in the gym. Especially once you see and feel your body changing, you’ll start to feel like you belong.

Because, as a regular gym-goer with unshakable confidence, you will.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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