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Facing Your Fears in the Gym

I am really enjoying weight lifting these days. I just love that tiny little muscle pump I get after lifting. I always think my muscles look so big so I snap a pic to capture the moment, then I realize, nope still pretty small. Ya gotta start somewhere though, right?

Typically, I use free weights. Even if you’ve never touched a weight before, free weights are pretty easy to pick up (literally and figuratively). By all means, if you’ve never lifted weights before, try free weights! Start with a light weight and just get used to the feeling and motion of using weights. Soon you’ll be a pro!

I’m pretty comfortable with free weights but have stayed away from barbells. For some reason, barbells have always been intimidating. It’s like I think if I pick one up, I’ll lose control and accidentally impale an innocent bystander. I’d really like to avoid killing anyone if possible. That or (and I think this is more likely), I’ll drop the barbell, which would be so embarrassing that I may never go back to the gym.

The squat rack in particular is a piece of equipment I always want to use but never pull the trigger. I want that booty to grow, so lifting heavy is a necessary evil. I’ve walked by the squat rack several times, even looked closely at it, but then kept walking. I was never sure how to change the height of the bar so I’d keep chickening out.

don't mind me creepin around the squat rack...can you tell i didn't want anyone to know i was taking a pic?

don’t mind me creepin around the squat rack…can you tell i didn’t want anyone to know i was taking a pic?

Well, I decided to get over it.  I passed all the meat heads and headed to the squat rack. I played around with it for a minute and guess what? I figured out how to use it!

Since the barbell was new to me, I squatted with just the bar first then slowly added weight. I can see now why people hit the gym with buddies (spotters). I’m still not totally comfortable adding tons of weight but I think with practice, I’ll get there.

I swear just using the squat rack gave me the confidence I needed to grab a barbell and try other exercises. Here’s what I did:

Barbell Workout 

squat 5×5 in squat rack – started with barbell, then added 10lb plates, then 10 more

deadlifts 5×5- used 25lb plates

clean and press 5×5 <— love these- used 10lb plates

row  (underhand grip) 5×5- used 15 lb plates

bench press 5×5- started with barbell, then added 5lb, then 10lb

I stuck to basic moves that work large muscle groups. My goal is to master these moves with the heaviest weight I can use, then increase the weight. Gainz baby!

little barbell corner

little barbell corner

look at that weight!! beast.

look at that weight!! beast.

I tried the bench press! It was a big day for me apparently. The bench press is another piece of equipment I need more practice with. I can see it being challenging to bench heavy weights if you’re benching solo. I guess I’ll cross that bridge when (or if) I get there.

If you’re like me and scared of barbells, here are a couple ways to face those fears:

Try Itgrab a barbell and play around with it- without weight at first. get used to how it feels before adding weight. When you add weight, start slow!

Ask someone for help if you’re not sure how a piece of equipment works, ask someone who just used it or better yet, someone who works at the gym.  I know that’s kinda scary, but I promise whoever you ask will be flattered and not irritated by you asking. You’re basically implying they’re a pro in your eyes so I swear they’ll be flattered.

Watch some videos and have a plan– First of all, take videos with a grain of salt. Just because something’s on YouTube doesn’t mean that person knows what they’re doing. That being said, there are lots of good videos and explanations on exercises. Watch some videos to familiarize yourself with the exercises before hitting the gym. Then face your fears and grab that barbell!


One thing I can almost guarantee with barbell workouts are you will feel like a badass. Even with teeny tiny muscles, you suddenly feel like the baddest of bodybuilders. Lifting heavy feels pretty good. It’s a great confidence booster I swear!


Do you use barbells at the gym?


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