Inspiration and info for midlife women who lift—or want to start

Tag: gym equipment

First Time Going to the Gym? We Were All New Once

The new year is here, and thousands of people all over the world are facing their first time going to the gym. 

You may be one of these folks. Maybe you’ve decided this is the year you’re finally going to get started with strength training. You may be preparing to pick up dumbbells or a barbell for the very first time. 

If so, way to effing GO! I’m so proud of you!!

On the other hand, maybe you’re an old hand who practically lives in the gym. If so, you may be dreading the impending onslaught of new members, because you’ve been here before. You’ve watched newcomers wander around aimlessly, overwhelmed and unsure what to do, looking baffled as they try to figure out what this machine is for and how to adjust the seat on that one. 

Whichever you are, I’m talking to you: veteran and newb alike. There are some things we all need to remember at this time of year.

Let me tell you a story. 

Barbell with fractional plate

Add Weights to Solve the Goldilocks Problem

Every lifter’s been there at some point: the increment between weights for your dumbbells, barbell or cable stack is too big, leaving you with an unpleasant choice. Just like in the story of Goldilocks and the three bears, you can either go too light or too heavy. What you really need to make the workout just right is to add weights.

But you need those weights to be smaller than what’s usually on offer in a gym.

This problem presents itself in a few different ways. You may find you’re simply incapable of going up to the next highest option, which frequently happens to women on upper body work.

For example, you can easily do bicep curls with the 15-pound dumbbells, but 20 pounds is just too much. Or you can bench 50 kg at RPE 9, but 52.5 won’t budge.

Or, you may be working with a program that uses percentages, and the weight programmed falls in between the available options.

Yes, you could just do more reps at a lower weight instead of going up in weight. Yes, you could round up or down on your percentages. Both solutions often work well.

Still, sometimes you really want to increase the weight, not the volume. And sometimes you want to be precise about your percentages.

But how can you add weight to dumbbells or kettlebells? Or add weight to a barbell that’s smaller (say, a pound or a kilo) than the minimum five pounds/2.5 kg possible using the smallest standard plates?

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