The gym is one of the strangest places to witness the boldness of newcomers. When it comes to things like joining a sports team, learning an instrument, or mastering a new language, there’s a general understanding of progression. There’s an understanding of ignorance and a willingness to learn. Yet when it comes to physical fitness, that part of the brain shuts off and the drive to seek knowledge completely vanishes.
Haven’t you ever wondered why some people go to the gym for six months and only manage to drop a little bit of weight but never make any major physical improvements? For example: let’s take a person who is 200 lbs, 5’10 and male, and has never touched a barbell before. In six months of consistent nutrition and training, his stats would look something like this:
Between 175-185 lbs, still 5’10, with a Squat of 315-335, a Bench of 195-215, and a Deadlift of 355-375.
I personally have trained someone who, at 150 lbs, went from squatting 105×5 to 165×5 in less than a month with good form. His deadlift went up similarly from 135×5 to 205×5. His bench was his weakest, still going from 95×5 to 115×5.
The process is simple: Follow a program designed for beginners by people who know what they are doing. You will thank yourself later for the amount of months you didn’t waste.
As a beginner, a great starting program would be Starting Strength. Follow it as described, and you will get results assuming your nutrition is in check. This is probably the program I would put any beginner on simply because it is so basic and general. The more advanced you get, the more specific your program can be. This will introduce you to the very basics of the barbell, build overall general strength, and let you get a feel for lifting.
Don’t settle for bullshit trainers that try to convince you a workout is good because you sweat. I sweat eating a cheeseburger or extra hot Mexican food, and we all sweat sitting in a hot tub. Sweating doesn’t mean jack shit. Getting so sore you can’t walk the next day also doesn’t mean anything other than your body isn’t used to doing what you just put it through (and possibly that you actually overdid it). Get a trainer that pushes you to maintain correct form and put weight on the bar. The bars don’t lie, you’re either getting stronger or you are not. And if you’re getting stronger, that probably means other good physiological changes are happening as well. If they demand a paycheck, you should demand tangible results.