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Solo Training For The Absolute Gym Beginner

Before I get into this, let's just address how bloody long it's been since I've written any kind of blog post. Too bloody long, is how long. So I'm back at the laptop, remembering how much I actually love writing. There's been a few new email subscribers, thanks for sticking around and reading what I've already posted. There is more to come but for now let's just get stuck into this one.


You’ve been thinking about going to the gym for a while. Maybe you’ve dabbled in some youtube workouts, tried a zumba class or bought a spin bike over lockdown that’s become an expensive clothes horse. Now you’re ready to get started lifting some weights. But where do you start?

First of all it’s important to say that weight training can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. You could get lost down a rabbit hole debating whether 5x5 is better than french contrast training but at the end of the day, as a beginner that’s not important. What is important is that you have some structure and that you train consistently at least two times per week. More than that is great, but as a complete beginner you’ll see massive improvements just from two sessions done properly each week. That gives you time to do other things like walking, sports - any other form of movement!

It’s equally as important to find a way of training that you enjoy. Exercise gives us a dopamine spike that lasts a few hours after we finish training but not if you hate doing it. Yes, some days might feel like a bit of a slog but finding a gym you like, a training buddy or group will certainly help! It shouldn’t feel like or be treated as a punishment.

Weight training is for growth. In more ways than just physical.

So if you feel like you’re ready to step into the gym, here are my top tips for a successful training session.

  1. Plan ahead.

Write something down in a little notebook so that you know exactly what you’ve got to get done and tick things off as you go. If you can avoid using your phone, this is ideal - especially if you’re prone to mindlessly scrolling as you might end up doing that instead of training. It’s good to be present whilst you train and it avoids a 30 minute workout taking 60 minutes! Planning ahead also means that you don’t wander around feeling lost, not knowing where to start - this can feel overwhelming if you’re new to a gym.

  1. Keep it simple.

There’s no need to complicate things, especially if you’re a beginner in the gym. This might mean that you do something as straightforward as grab a dumbbell and a mat and complete a timed circuit in a quiet corner. Select your exercises to get a good full body balance and work to improve your form, get a deeper squat, improve your press ups etc. Don’t get distracted by instagram influencers telling you ‘this amazing exercise will help you shed belly fat’ or any other shit like that. The simple stuff works.

2. Don’t rush yourself.

It’s tempting to just want to add more weight to the bar, pick up heavier dumbbells and focus only on the numbers. But by doing that, you miss out on so much potential strength that could be gained just by slowing down a little bit and controlling your reps. There’s a joy to being a beginner in that you can make huge strength gains from just using dumbbells and your own body weight. Make the most of that and get as much out of that phase of your training as possible!

3. Mix things up occasionally.

A routine and a structure is super important. That’s how you improve over time. But it’s equally as important to keep yourself mentally stimulated. So once a month or so, it’s ok to do something a bit different. Maybe you’ve seen a fitness challenge online or a workout that you want to have a go at. Go for it! Just don’t mix things up every single session.

4. Take a pal.

Training with a friend is (for most people), infinitely more fun than training alone. It means you’ve got someone to navigate the gym with, someone to chat to whilst you rest and someone to keep you accountable. If you don’t really feel like going, you’ve got the other person to give you a little push and vice versa when they don’t feel like it.

This post is part one of a series of blogs about training in the gym for beginners. So keep your eyes peeled for the follow ups! If you have any questions about training in the gym for the first time, drop me a message on Instagram @ruthellen_coaching or email me at

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