T Nation

Never Really Worked Out In a Gym


This is my first post, although I've been surfing this site for a few months now.

I'd like to say that I've decided to get back into weightlifting again, but all of my previous attempts at "lifting" were pretty much half-assed. My nutrition was always subpar, my form was probably horrible, I got all of my info from muscle mags, and most of my workout partners just weren't in it. I ended up working out on my own in my garage. I made some decent gains, but plateaued pretty quickly. And like I said, the nutrition was never really there.

Now that's changed. I've taken care of the nutrition and have decided that working out on my own in the garage just isn't the best thing. One problem: aside from some casual nautilus machine use, I've never worked out intensely at a gym. I wouldn't even know where to begin. For instance, what kind of gym is best? A giant franchise gym like LA Fitness, or a smaller, independent one? Also, how do you hook up with workout partners? I'm assuming you just don't walk up to the biggest meathead in the room and ask to be buds. None of my friends are interested in body building, either, and even if they were, they're as knowledgable as I am -- which is not very.

Another big problem: I don't know anything about training programs. Before I stumbled across T-Nation, I had gotten most of my training advice from random lifters I met in the navy. None of them talked about 1RM, 3RM, supersets, etc., etc. They all had their own names for what they did and were convinced it was the best thing ever. So that's a problem area, too.

I would appreciate any help I can get in these areas. I really have no idea where else I can turn for advice. Thanks, all.


I have no gym experience but if I was to join a gym it would have to be a smaller/or bigger old school Dungeon type with lots of power racks, olympic weights & bars,benches,pull up/dip machines made for weighted work, sleds, and some odd stuff like logs, rocks, tires, kegs out back or in a are thats designated for tear & wear of the concrete.

As for lifting advice here are some articles on program design:

Heres some for preventing imbalances:

Hope this helps some. Good luck on getting big & ripped and choosing a gym.

Stay strong,

p.s. I also have some more articles on tips in my favorites in my profile that can help.


Most gyms offer orientations to newbies. I know mine does. They will give you a basic routine to follow. After that, I've have found people are friendly, make a few friends, respectfully ask questions. My two training partners now were once newbies that I helped out. Now we are all great friends, and the workouts are good. You have the drive, thats 50% of success. The other 50% the club will give you. So go for it.

I prefer smaller, independent gyms. Personally I would start there. I may be biased I work at a family owned club. I did the golds, ballys, lifetime thing for a while and didn't like it.


If you want to design your own program, check out the articles Dragon mentions. If you just want some quality programs to follow, don't go up to the pencilnecks in your gym asking for a program, check out Chad Waterbury's programs. someone put them in a nifty spreadsheet here,
Or, you can just search for them on T-Nation.
I doubt you'll find a paradise gym with just power racks, benches, a few cable stations, and kegs and tires. (tell me if you do) Try to find a gym that doesn't cater too much to the jazzercizers and aerobics culture. Lifetime is actually not too shabby, I have been there a few teams. Look online for a good gym near you; powerlifting type gyms and gyms more centered on athletics are definitely winners.

As for the Olympic Lifts, though some of the best exercises you can do, they have a steep learning curve. I would recommend finding a coach certified in the Olympic lifts near you, and going to him to learn how to do it. Of course, teaching yourself may get the job done in the short term, but I have found you can't beat the instruction of
a professional.

Good luck


Wow, those are some bad-ass articles. I'm glad I'm printing these out at work ... there's so much to read. Thanks guys.

Another thing that I'm having trouble figuring out, although it could just be I'm using the wrong search terms. What's the best way to establish your 1RM, and how often should it be tested/adjusted?