Women’s Guide to the Weight Room- 12 Tips & Things to Know

I remember my first foray into the weight room.  I went in to start some light weight training, and then walked straight to the exit on the other side and went upstairs and used the treadmill. There were zero women in there, and all the guys seemed big, bulky, and knowledgable. I had no clue what proper form was, or how to use the machines, and everyone seemed like experts in there. So if you’re like me and want to start using the weight room but feel intimidated, here’s some tips and things to know.


  1. You have just as much right to the weight room as any one else does
  2. Strength training is really good for you, and you deserve the benefits
    • It strengthens your bones, helps to raise your metabolic rate making it easier to maintain a healthy weight, lowers your risk of diabetes- just to name a few
  3. You won’t get bulky
    • It takes a lot to become a female body builder- years of training, proper supplements, sometimes even steroids. Lifting weights has great benefits for fat and weight loss, don’t let the bulky myth stand in your way. Even Victoria Secret models lift weights.
  4. Know some of the lingo: 
    • Reps & sets: Typically you do an exercise 8-15 times (reps) in one set. Rest a couple minutes between sets
    • Positives & Negatives: Positives are when the focus is on the lifting phase of the exercise and negatives are when the focus is on the lowering phase
    • Failure: When you can’t complete any more reps
    • AMRAP: “as many rounds/reps as possible” until you reach failure
    • Spot: A safety technique where one person observes the other lifting weights and intervenes by helping lift the weight if the person begins to fail
    • Work-in: Sharing equipment by letting someone else use the equipment while you’re resting in between sets
    • PR or PB: “personal record” or “personal best”
  5. Know basic weight room etiquette:
    • Put the weights and equipment back where they belong once you’re done
    • Clean up your sweat
    • Don’t hog equipment, be aware of the needs of others
    • Look for your local gym’s rules and follow them
    • Safety! Know proper form, don’t be afraid to ask for a spotter, use weight clips
    • Phone usage- take calls in the lobby, never take pictures of other people without permission
    • Be nice and patient. You’re sharing the gym. If it’s busy, people may ask to work-in (see #3)
  6. Know the basic structure of weight room routines
    • Quick 5-10 minute warm up
    • A typical routine will have 5-6 exercises
    • Each exercise you’ll do about 3-5 sets and rest for a couple minutes in between sets
    • Each set will have about 8-15 reps
    • Stretch after your workout
    • Total workout time: 45-60 mins
  7. Use an informative app, website, or video before/during your workout
    • Knowing proper form, how much to be lifting, how to use the machines, etc. helps to alleviate anxiety and also keeps you safe
  8. Wear headphones
    • Can alleviate anxiety and help you to zone out of your surroundings
  9. Bring a friend the first few times
    • Can be someone who is just as much of novice as you are, or someone who already knows the ropes and can guide you
  10. Go when the gym is empty until you feel comfortable
  11. Wear clothing that makes you feel strong
    • Any fitness Instagram junkie knows the post… the butt shot of some super fit babe doing squats. Fearing being sexualized in the weight room or feeling eyes judging you (whether it happens or not), especially when you’re insecure about your form can be intimating. Wear clothing that makes you feel strong.
  12. No better place to feel like a badass and gain confidence
    • For any novice, especially women, it takes strength to just walk into weight room. Conquering that fear AND getting stronger can help you become more confident and fearless. 
  13. Once you get started, you’ll be surprised by how quickly you progress and how comfortable you become in the weight room
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