So you're thinking about adding resistance training or weight training to your exercise regimen. Or maybe you just started to lift weights. I know what it's like to be a weight lifting beginner, I've been there. So I'd like to share with you 5 pieces of advice for any weight lifting beginner.
1. Weight lifting IS for you
No matter who you are; male or female, big or small, weight lifting can fit your needs and goals. Weight lifting is good for so much more than building big muscles (although it definitely is good for building big muscles). Weight lifting gives you functional strength, improves muscular endurance, and despite what many people think, it is an exceptional tool for weight loss.
Let's face it, if you workout at a typical gym, the free weight area can be intimidating. As a beginner, it seems like everyone is stronger than you and they all know what they're doing. And no matter what gym you go to, there is always at least one person that looks like a professional bodybuilder. Don't be afraid to pick up some weights and get your workout in. In my experience, the people using the free weights at the gym are not only accepting of everyone else, despite their strengths and weaknesses, but actually pretty friendly. If you go to the gym consistently enough, you will probably end up befriending some of the people that you were initially intimidated by.
The nice thing about weight lifting (and exercise in general) is that there are countless ways to do it. There are thousands of different exercises, and each exercise has dozens of variations. Find exercises you like, and do them the way you like to do them. Try to make weight lifting fun, and if you really don't enjoy it but still want to stick to a lifting routine, try to make it as painless as possible.
(If you want to learn some new exercises or exercise variations, Bodybuilding.com has a great database, that I sometimes use.)
4. Nutrition is very important
I know you've heard it a million times, but nutrition is important. As a beginner, you will most likely see quick gains in strength in muscle despite your diet, but that progress will slow down as your body builds new muscle and learns to utilize that muscle more efficiently. The more experienced you get, the more you need to pay attention to what you eat if you want to make progress. Also, if you are using weight lifting as a weight loss method, you need to know that you have to be in a caloric deficit to lose weight, no matter how often or intensely you workout. (A caloric deficit means that throughout the day, you are burning more calories than you are taking in.)
5. Results take time, effort, and consistency
As I previously stated, you will probably see rapid gains in strength and muscle as a beginner. Unfortunately, it becomes more and more difficult to pack on muscle, build up endurance, and lift heavier weights. You will have to have to put in more time and effort to see results, but if you are consistent, you will achieve your goals.
Now go out and start lifting weights!