So you have decided to ditch Zumba and Pilates and give lifting weights a chance? Good for you! Not that I have anything against those programs, but I do think that women have been shying away from actual resistance training for too long, and there are some definitive benefits to it if you ask me (weight loss and increase bone density come to mind). Now that you have made your decision, the first logical question would be – What do I need? Stay tuned and find out, the answer is simpler than what you may have expected.
The short answer to it would be: Same as any other lifter.
For starters, you want to have:
Most gyms require a special pair of shoes that you don’t wear outside, and that makes sense. Where most of us go wrong with purchasing training shoes is that we go to the store and immediately grab running shoes. Not only are they quite expensive, but they also don’t serve the purpose you bought them for.
Shoes that you need when you squat, deadlift or do any kind of resistance training need to be firm and with a hard wide heel. That way they support your ankle and help with injury prevention. On the contrary, running shoes are made to cushion the repeated blows to the heel by absorbing the force from the ground up. That’s why they have soft, shock-absorbent soles.
While that is something you want when running, the soft heel is not helping with stability that you need when lifting weights. So opt for the ones with wider, harder soles, and you might also save some money in the process.
For some reason, when I say comfortable clothes, people somehow hear “the things you wear to a pajama party”, and, as a rule, they come to the gym wearing baggy sweatpants and an oversized t-shirt. I don’t have a problem with baggy cotton clothes per se, but I do think that they can restrict the movement, especially if you are going to do some more complex maneuvers like snatches, squats or even bodyweight matrixes.
Yes, you need to feel comfortable, and yes, you are going to be sweating, but for the love of toast, don’t wear an XXL shirt if you plan to do burpees that day. The rule of thumb for me is: If I can squat and lift arms overhead with no problems, the “outfit” works.
I don’t think I even have to stress just how important water is when working out. There is no need to get into the specifics right now, so you can drink whatever you like, be it water, sport’s drink, BCAAs, or an l-carnitine drink (for crying out loud, I once bought blue raspberry flavored BCAAs, simply because I felt like drinking something blue) as long as you stay hydrated.
I do, however, have to ask you not to fall for the hype and buy one of those jumbo bottles that carry a gallon of water. This is just my opinion, of course, but they are less hygienic (it’s more difficult to wash them), and they just look dumb.
Let’s face it, half a liter is more than enough for all of us who aren’t endurance athletes. Pick a bottle or a shaker that you like, and remember to carry it with you next time you head to the gym.
If you are working out with a friend, you can skip this part, but if you decided to give it a try and train by yourself, earphones and music, in general, can be of great help when it comes to motivating you to train harder, to count reps or even set the tempo for the given exercise.
Don’t jump in too fast and buy the most expensive ones right away. Try out different types and see what works for you (I bought an expensive pair of over-the-ear headphones which I hated so much I gave them to a friend and bought a pair of in-ears for 10$ that I am still using now).
Even if you don’t have the money to buy the Bluetooth ones, don’t sweat it, the regular ones work just fine.
Even though most gyms don’t ask their users to bring towels with them, carrying one nonetheless makes sense. I am not a particularly big germophobe, but you can pick up some pretty annoying conditions in the gym. And even though you may be considerate enough to wipe down the machine with the sanitizer after using it, I guarantee that there are at least one guy (or girl, we are all equally capable of being pigs) that doesn’t even give it a thought.
If you want to really be on the safe side, you can even bring one towel for laying on the benches and the machines, and the other one for wiping off your sweat. Risking to sound like a piggy myself, I only carry one, and I wipe with my face with my shirt (there, I said it).
The equipment that I have listed so far just goes to show that men and women need the same stuff when they go to the gym. Yes, the colors and sizes differ, but we are basically talking about the same things.
The only thing that is different in my opinion is that most women don’t want to have calluses on their hands (and that is perfectly fine), so the gloves are more of a must-have item for them, whereas for the guys they represent a nuisance we have once bought and worn twice before discarding them.
I am not trying to sound macho, and there is nothing wrong with a lady not wearing gloves in the gym, or with a guy wearing them. If anything, I think it’s unfair that it’s somehow still more socially acceptable to have callused hands if you are a dude. So you do you. If you don’t mind calluses, don’t wear the gloves, if you do, by all means, grab a pair.
As you can see, going to the gym is no longer just a guys’ thing, nor should it be. If you care at all about your health, your body and the way you feel and look, pick up a bag today, fill it with this starter kit and get ready to see some serious changes.
Hey! My name is Paul Sheldon. I live in Nashville, TN and I love all things related to sports. Naturally I love workking out and I do it every day. If you want to talk feel freee to hit me a message or if you happen to be in Nashville we can get a coffee, I know a great place. Peace!