Sick of the elliptical or machines and want to venture to the free weight section? First off, good for you. Many people get easily intimidated. Second, not sure at what the f*** you are doing? No worries, if you want to look like you know a thing or seven, these are the top seven exercises every gym newbie should know. Each of these focuses on a main muscle group such as the back, shoulders, chest, legs, and arms. 

Do Not Make This Mistake

Before we get started, there is one mistake that people often make when they first start lifting. Do not use too much weight too soon.

Start at a weight that allows you to get your form down before you try and become the next Arnold Schwarzenegger. Each week or session try and increase the weight slowly. The last thing we want is you taking a trip to snap central. You will see many people ego lifting, you don't need those people in your life.

Dumbbell Row

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Kendall Dickieson

You will see many weights on a rack. This is what you need. Take a light weight at first to get acclimated with the movement pattern. Bend over until your torso is pretty much parallel with the floor. Your anatomy and build will play a role in determining how upright you should be In order to fully feel the contraction in your lat aka your back. Hold yourself to the bench to balance yourself and throw a leg on there as well. Brace your core and using your hands as hooks, drive your elbows up and back.

You want t retract or bring your shoulder blades back and down to insure your shoulder will be safe. As you pull, think about starting a lawnmower. You do not want the movement pattern to be a straight up and down line, but rather on an angle.

 Barbell Bench Press

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Kendall Dickieson

Most ladies hate working out chest, but little do some know that working our your back and neglecting your chest can actually lead to a muscle imbalance. You don't have to always give it love, but 1-2x a week is ideal and that goes for any muscle group.

The Barbell Bench is one of the main three compound movements because it requires a lot of muscles to fire at once. If you cannot lift the bar, start off weight dumbbells!

First off, retract your shoulder blades and dig into the bench. With this movement, you want to make sure your chest is feeling the contraction. The shoulders and back should not be doing all the work so keep your shoulder blades in a safe position will keep you safe in the end. As you bring the weight down, keep your elbows pointed at a 45 degree angled stop the weight once your elbows are about parallel to the floor and then bring it up slowly.

The Squat

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Kendall Dickieson

The squat is also another compound movement. Squat form is actually hard to get down, but once you find your groove then you won't be able to stop. Before adding on weight, practice simple squat form. Keeping your heels on the ground, slowly sit back to a point of where your back and neck are in a neutral position. As you come down, make sure your heels are not raising off the floor or that you are falling too forward.

Remember to tighten your core the whole way through as this will help protect your lower back. There are many variations you can do, but the barbell back squat is the most popular. A great alternative is the leg press machine.

The Deadlift

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Kendall Dickieson

Just like the squat and bench press, the deadlift is the last of the big three compound movements. It works your glutes, hips, hamstrings, lower back, and requires core strength as well. Start off light and get accustomed to form before anything.

With the bar on the floor, roll it is so it is close to your shins. Brace your core and lift the bars by squeezing your glutes, thrusting your hips forward and pulling your torso back. All the power should be coming from your legs!

Imagine you are pressing downward on the floor. It is a hinge movement, which means your hips should be staying above your knees. There are two ways to deadlift either as I described above or standing in a wider position called sumo stance, which is shown in the photo. 

Seated Shoulder Press

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Kendall Dickieson

The seated shoulder press is one of my favorite movements. I am pretty sure I am one of the only girls on the planet who like working their upper body over their legs. The main thing here is to remember to keep your shoulder locked and in place! Pinch your shoulder blades together and down. This will allow you to stay tight throughout the movement and to help avoid injury. 

Sit on a bench that has back support. Raise the dumbbells and rotate your wrists so the palms of your hands face forward. This is your starting position. I personally like putting my arms at a little less that a 90 degree angle to avoid activating other muscles. 

As you exhale, push the dumbbells up towards the ceiling and do not fully lock our your elbows. Feel and aim for a contraction. After reaching the contracted position, slowly lower them down to where your elbows and shoulder are in alignment and repeat

Tricep Pushdown

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Yes, I am aware this is a machine and not don't with weights, BUT I wanted to include this solely to show that working your tricep has crossover into other movements. Tricep development can help with movements such as your shoulder press and chest press. Rope pushdowns are an easy and excellent exercise to help with arm development, growth, and all that jazz.

Stand in from the cable stack with the rope attachment that will be on some random contraption in your gym with a bunch of other crazy looking handles. Stand with your feet at about shoulder width and slightly lean forward. keep your elbows at your side and pretend they are stuck there. Slowly lower the weight and contract the back of your arm and raise the weight until your feel a stretch then contract again. 

Bicep Curl

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Kendall Dickieson

We all need some strong arms to make sure we can bring our groceries in in one trip. The most important part of any curl is to keep your elbows pinned a little bit to the front of your body and think of them as a hinge. Nobody likes a cheater so do not swing!

The trick is to keep tension on the muscle. Curl the weight up about ¾ of the way, do not hit your shoulder with the weight and then slowly lower the weight until your tricep is full contracted. 

The Final Rule

Being the fitness gal I am, here are some motivational yet true words. Even if you do not get everything down the first time around, do not stop. Everything in life takes time. The one thing about weightlifting is consistency. The more you go, the more you get accustomed then it will be a habit. Most of all when you are at the gym be sure to have fun and relax. If you want to maximize your workout though, be sure to finish it up with 3 sets of 12 selfies.