I never really knew how to fit in at the gym for years of my life. Then again, I never knew how to fit in with the popular kids at school either. Those insecurities followed me a lot of places, and one of them was when it was time to work out.
I wasn’t built like so many of the other guys at the gym. Whenever I went, I had a pretty basic idea of what I was going to do, but I didn’t really understand the “why” of what I was doing. I was just doing it.
I went to the gym to work out and I just knew it was the right thing to do. And a jog on the treadmill always seemed like a good cardio routine to add to my workout for an additional 30 minutes. Did I go to the gym to get leaner? Was it to build muscle? When I think back on it now, I’m not sure exactly if I had any goal in mind. But I went several days a week for at least an hour or more, for years.
And what’s funny is I never really got into any kind of shape that you’d think someone who went to the gym as often as I did would be in. I just kept going though, cause it became routine. Although I was a regular, I never felt like I fit in. The people who fit in at the gym are the ones who just seem to plow through their workouts with focus and precision.
Those are the guys that move from one machine or set of weights to the next, and they’re on a mission. They’re the guys who are incredibly in shape, and you wonder how the hell they were able to build their physiques like that.
Well, my goal with this article is to teach you to have that mindset and determination. The mindset of being focused on what you need to do, and get it done at the gym so you come back home feeling awesome and accomplished. It doesn’t really matter if you fit in. You’ll fit in when you know exactly why you’re headed to the gym, what to do when you’re there, and how to do it effectively.
Invest In A Solid Workout Routine
This is the most important piece of advice I can give you. I’m willing to bet that most of the people who head to the gym and get those killer workouts in, moving from one machine to the next, have a very dialed-in plan.
See, I never actually had a solid plan to follow at the gym, except for in college, and that was the only other time in my life aside from now that I was in great shape. Well, actually, in the first several months of college, I gained the freshman 15 and more.
So, I had a friend on the school’s wrestling team who set up an eating and workout plan for me based on my weight and goals to burn off fat and build muscle. I took his plan with me to the gym every day on a piece of paper, knowing exactly what workouts I had to do.
I was laser focused on getting these workouts done. I burned off that fat I gained from too much cafeteria food, and built up a lean body in a matter of a few months. The only other time that happened was right when the pandemic hit.
Having a solid workout plan that guides you from A to Z during every single workout is powerful. Not only will you be getting a killer workout in, but you’ll look and feel confident cause you’re following a plan that works and is getting you results every time you head in there.
This workout plan is responsible for helping me drop 15 pounds of body fat in a few short months, and helping me build lean muscle all at the same time. I’m now doing a hybrid version of the same workout and even though it was designed as a home routine during the pandemic, I’ve taken it with me to the gym a few times, as the hybrid routine requires weights.
Set Goals And Stick To Them
This is a simple one but really, what is it you want to accomplish? This is such a huge deal, because it’s not enough to just say you want to lose weight or you want to pack on lean muscle. You need to really understand exactly what it is you want.
For instance, when the pandemic hit, I didn’t realize that I had 15 pounds to lose. But what I did know is that I could lose 4 – 5 pounds of body fat per month if I followed this workout plan. So, that’s exactly what I did. And as I followed this plan, the 5 pounds came off in month one. Then another 5 pounds came off in month two. Then it happened again in month three, and I was just a little shocked.
I had no idea I was carrying around all this extra fat on my body. I’ve always been relatively in shape. But I understand now, because those little love handles aren’t there anymore. The chest fat that always made me so self-conscious of man boobs is gone too.
This all happened cause I followed a strategic plan with a goal to lose 4 – 5 pounds of fat per month. Of course, there came a point where I didn’t really have much more fat to lose. So, I have a new goal. After a few months of following the program, I leaned down enough to the point where I was in a position to start gaining weight in the form of lean muscle.
The fun part about that is that you get to eat more. You incrementally add calories to your diet until you start to gain about 1 – 2 pounds monthly. You don’t want to gain more than 1 – 2 pounds monthly, or it leads to fat gain too. Eating to gain weight is called a lean bulk and you can learn all about it here. There’s a strategy that must be followed in order to do it correctly.
The point that I’m trying to make though, is that having a goal to work towards is very important. You’ll go into the gym with a much more positive and confident mindset when you know exactly what it is you’re trying to accomplish. You don’t just show up at the gym to randomly lift weights and do cardio simply for the sake of doing those things.
Track Your Progress
I do this in my iPad. You can use a piece of paper or do it on your phone. But you need a way to track your progress. When I say progress, I mean the reps and sets that you do should be noted down.
This is how we make progress and gains at the gym every week or with home resistance training. If you think about it, the goal is to build lean muscle, and strip off unwanted fat, at least for most people that I know anyway.
Aside from eating properly, the next most important part of this process is making sure that the resistance training we’re doing is helping us make gains week after week. You should be increasing your weight whenever you’re able to do a set of exercises in a row and easily hit the maximum reps for each set.
So, note that down in your tablet, notebook or smartphone. So, next week, when you come into the gym to do the same exercise, you know to start the workout using a slightly higher weight. I usually increase by about 2.5 – 5 pounds per week, depending on the exercise.
Get In And Get Out
A solid workout routine doesn’t take 2 full hours of time to get done. It also doesn’t require you to go to the gym 6 days a week. I know that’s a mentality that a lot of people seem to have ingrained in their minds about how things are supposed to be.
The routine I follow is only 3 days a week, and I’ve gotten into far better shape doing less work than I was in when I followed Beachbody’s workouts 6 days a week, or when I used to go to the gym 5 days a week for 90 minutes each session.
There’s a reason for the saying “less is more”. In this specific scenario of working out and getting fit, it’s all about working smarter, and NOT harder.
3 days a week of powerful resistance training is all you need to truly transform your body in a matter of months. Now, I know there are a million workout programs out there, but an effective routine should build in tension and volume over time, so that you are seeing measurable results in the mirror week after week.
Combined with walking daily, and eating your required daily calories, you’re set up to achieve an insane body transformation in a matter of months. Again, this program taught me all of this, and completely changed my perspective on what we are capable of achieving.
My workouts take 45 minutes. I’m on a mission every time I get started. I plow through each exercise. I rest in between sets. I increase intensity each week based on progress I’m making. If I go to the gym, I follow my plan, move from one workout to the next, and I’m in and out in no time. Plus, I’ve just gotten a killer workout in.
Following a solid workout plan allows you more time to enjoy your life so you don’t have to spend all of it in the gym.
Ignore The Gym Bullies
I was at the gym recently and I got really pissed at this guy who was indirectly bullying another dude who was using the lat pull down machine. He asked the guy at the machine if he was going to be done soon, and the guy at the machine replied by saying he’d just started.
So, the bully dude said, “you started what?” and the guy responded that he just started doing a circuit. The meathead dude sort of laughed under his breath, and sarcastically said “a circuit?”. He was just trying to show some kind of dominance by being a bully.
I hated seeing that, cause it reminded me of being in middle school again and of the ways that kids often treat each other. I used to be a teacher, so I saw it often, and I was also a victim to bullying myself when I was that age.
I stared that dude down at the gym with laser eyes that I wished could have zapped him. What right did he have to humiliate somebody else who was just doing his best to get into shape too? Here’s a Reddit post on how some people have dealt with gym bullies.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to avoid douche bags, and it’s also really hard to avoid the fact that you’re going to be surrounded by people who look like they’re far more in shape than you are. I still have this insecurity today, even though I’ve transformed my body, and am very happy with how far I’ve come.
If I look at the guy next to me at the gym, I’ll quickly realize how much further along he is on his fitness journey. How on earth are his biceps so built? My legs look totally scrawny compared to his. He must be doing something that I’m not. It’s very easy to start comparing ourselves and our personal progress to others.
It’s not worth it. And also, just know, those people who are in amazing shape worked incredibly hard to achieve their bodies. They understand discipline and the importance of having a workout plan in place to get results and achieve goals they set for themselves.
I took this plan with me to the gym, and I had way more confidence than I ever had in all my previous years going. It’s cause it’s a solid routine. It’s been proven to work with thousands of success stories. I’m one of them. There’s no filler. It’s just an A to Z road map, and if you follow it, and put in the work, you get results. Plain and simple.
Fitting In At The Gym In Summary
If you want to know how to fit in at the gym, then it’s really just a matter of having systems and goals in place. Setting goals is important so you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve. Do you want to lose 4 – 5 pounds of pure fat in a month while also building lean muscle? That was my initial goal, and that’s exactly what happened, as I set my eye on that specific outcome.
My goal now is to gain weight in the form of lean muscle. I’m aiming for 1 – 2 pounds of muscle gain per month. Both of these are set up with equations that you calculate before you even begin your workout program.
I strongly suggest setting up goals before stepping foot into the gym, or beginning any kind of resistance training program at home. This way, when you do get started, you have a solid foundation to move forward from.
When I say systems are important, I’m specifically referring to a solid workout routine. A good one should be proven and backed with hundreds of thousands of success stories. An effective resistance training program should build in tension and volume incrementally so that you see progress in the mirror month after month.
By following a solid workout program, you will go to the gym knowing exactly what you’re doing. An A to Z plan will get you in and out without having to waste time wandering through the gym without a road map.
I hope you found this article to be helpful. If you have any questions at all, please let me know and I’ll be more than happy to get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks so much for reading!