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Old 03-18-2010, 05:22 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Weight training etiquette question

I'm a 42 year old, flabby mom. After my husband starts his new job and we have an income again (finally), I'm thinking of re-joining my local gym. It's a very small gym, with a maximum of one person on duty at any given time.

I've done weight training before, many years ago, but I've never done squats, bench presses, or dead lifts, because I don't know how to get someone to spot me. I'm not good at approaching people for favors, and I'm not even sure if it's appropriate to interrupt someone's workout to ask them to spot me. Last time I was there, some of the staff were strong, fit-looking people, but some of them were not. I don't think spotting is part of their job.

So, as far as gym etiquette goes, in a small gym like this, what would be an appropriate way to get a spotter. (And no, I don't have a friend or money for a personal trainer.) I want to be able to just do my workout, without having to socialize with anyone, and I'm kind of afraid that if I ask someone to spot me, then I'll be obligated to chat. I'm a nice person, but not a chatty person.

(I'm not even sure if I'm strong enough to do any of those exercises with just the bar, but I'd like to find out.)
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Old 03-19-2010, 12:25 AM   #2 (permalink)
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elderwanda, First of all congrats on starting to workout again. I have been lifting weights on a more regular basis and have started to see results.
As far as a spotter, I don't think you would be lifting at that intensity to need one for awhile. Start with lighter weights until you see how you feel. Usually spotters are necessary for very heavy weights at a low rep.If you are looking to tone, you would want more reps at a lighter weight. I have noticed at my gym that working out at the same time each day, you see the same people. It has gone from saying hello, to joking about how early it is, to first names, and teasing if someone misses a day. I would now be comfortable to ask for help if I needed it. You don't have to be chatty. Most people are on a time schedule anyway, but are happy to help while resting between sets. Hope that helps.
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Old 03-19-2010, 09:04 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by mambogirl81 View Post
elderwanda, First of all congrats on starting to workout again. I have been lifting weights on a more regular basis and have started to see results.
As far as a spotter, I don't think you would be lifting at that intensity to need one for awhile. Start with lighter weights until you see how you feel. Usually spotters are necessary for very heavy weights at a low rep.If you are looking to tone, you would want more reps at a lighter weight. I have noticed at my gym that working out at the same time each day, you see the same people. It has gone from saying hello, to joking about how early it is, to first names, and teasing if someone misses a day. I would now be comfortable to ask for help if I needed it. You don't have to be chatty. Most people are on a time schedule anyway, but are happy to help while resting between sets. Hope that helps.
I'm looking to get strong and build muscle. I wouldn't be using weights that are heavy for a lot of people, but they'd be heavy for me. I plan on using weights that are heavy enough that I can do about 6-8 reps before failure, because it's my understanding that that's how you build strength.
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Old 03-19-2010, 11:46 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I live in a small town too, and the local community center holds classes on using their weight lifting equipment. It's a great way to find a lifting partner, or at least be able to recognize a fellow weight lifter (and consequently someone that also needs a spotter at the gym). It's my understanding that when you need a spotter you look for someone else that needs one too and you take turns. Also at my gym the monitors will spot for you, it's part of their job.
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Old 03-19-2010, 11:49 PM   #5 (permalink)
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You have to go until your muscles reach the point of fatigue, and you can do that either with short sets of heavier weights or longer sets of lighter weights. My goal is to add strength without bulking up. I'm doing lower weights on the machines, 15-25 reps single set. I'm not allowed free weights, dr's orders. It's easier to injure myself with heavy weights. I'm supposed to go until I can't fully move the weight stack, and if I can do more than 25 reps it's time to add 5 lbs. You don't want the weights to be so heavy you can't maintain proper form either.
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Old 03-22-2010, 01:26 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Wink On Beefing Up

Quote:
Originally Posted by elderwanda View Post
I'm looking to get strong and build muscle. I wouldn't be using weights that are heavy for a lot of people, but they'd be heavy for me. I plan on using weights that are heavy enough that I can do about 6-8 reps before failure, because it's my understanding that that's how you build strength.
@Elderwanda:
If you're looking for higher weight and lower reps you aren't alone. Don't listen to those who say you'll "beef up". Females don't have the testosterone to beef up.

A link to elaborate: Strength Training for Women | Mark's Daily Apple
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Old 04-06-2010, 08:00 PM   #7 (permalink)
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@elderwanda,
To answer your question: look around, find someone that looks like they can handle the weight you're lifting and doesn't look like they're in a *super* rush and ask if they'll spot. Most people normally wanna get in and get out so they're not going to want to sit and chat with you but at the same time aren't too rushed to mind stopping to help you. All you have to do is ask if they ming; what's the worse that would happen? If they say no ask someone else. Also, with my experiences, people that work the front normally help spot, even if there is one or two on duty, as long as they have time.

Side note: don't worry about chatters too much, it's kind of an understood courtesy that when you get to know people and DO want to talk to them that convos normally stick to 1-2 minutes max, anything over at one time is too long and generally frowned upon.
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Old 04-09-2010, 10:48 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Most people are glad to help and won't expect much from you beyond common respect and courtesy. Only thing is, don't interrupt people in the middle of a set. Wait until they put the weight down to ask for help.

Refreshing to see women finally embracing lower-rep, higher-load free weight lifting. If heavy liftin' turned women into she-hulks, how do you explain this?

Good luck on your journey!

-Nik
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Old 04-10-2010, 09:07 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I agree, Nic, that too many women worry about "bulking" up with high weights. Here's a challenge--take a look around at a busy gym and check out the physiques of women using light weights/high reps as compared to women using heavy weights/low reps. Usually the women working intensely are in much better shape. There is the occasional woman who does have the propensity to build a lot of muscle, but they are the exception. Plus, lifting heavy without changing diet plays a big role in that misconception.

I wouldn't recommend going heavy until one has mastered proper form and like the previous poster said, get a spotter--particularly with squats and bench press. I've gotten stuck before...big mistake! Lesson learned! I realize most people cannot afford a personal trainer on a continuing basis, but hiring a qualified trainer for a couple of sessions is a good investment. I am a pt, but I still wouldn't hesitate to hire a good trainer to help me with my form when I'm learning new lifting techniques. They are less expensive than a doctor!
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Old 04-10-2010, 09:08 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I agree, Nik, that too many women worry about "bulking" up with high weights. Here's a challenge--take a look around at a busy gym and check out the physiques of women using light weights/high reps as compared to women using heavy weights/low reps. Usually the women working intensely are in much better shape. There is the occasional woman who does have the propensity to build a lot of muscle, but they are the exception. Plus, lifting heavy without changing diet plays a big role in that misconception.

I wouldn't recommend going heavy until one has mastered proper form and like the previous poster said, get a spotter--particularly with squats and bench press. I've gotten stuck before...big mistake! Lesson learned! I realize most people cannot afford a personal trainer on a continuing basis, but hiring a qualified trainer for a couple of sessions is a good investment. I am a pt, but I still wouldn't hesitate to hire a good trainer to help me with my form when I'm learning new lifting techniques. They are less expensive than a doctor!
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