What Should a Beginner Do at the Gym to Lose Weight?

What Should a Beginner Do at the Gym to Lose Weight?

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Written by Megan Ayala. Last Updated: July 30, 2022

Are you struggling with your weight?

Weight loss can seem out of reach for many. Losing weight is a difficult process. But it is a process. That’s something a lot of people struggle with.

There are no shortcuts to weight loss. If you want to lose weight, you have to be willing to put in the work.

The good news is, that it’s achievable for anyone. You don’t have some magic genetic defect that makes you unable to lose weight. While some do have it harder than others, nothing is stopping you from achieving your weight loss goals but your mindset and effort.

Once you understand this, you can make significant strides toward reaching your fitness goals.

However, you also need to take the right approach. Beginners can find it increasingly difficult to know what to focus their attention on.

You only have so much time in the day, you want to make it count.

This comprehensive beginner-focused guide will give you all of the nitty-gritty details you need to know to make your time in the gym effective. It will also go over some pertinent details you’ll need to focus on outside of the gym to ensure you are wasting your efforts.

Ready to dive in and lose some weight?

Top 3 Gym Tips for Beginners

a woman runs on a treadmill in a grey sports bra next to her friend

1. Make a Plan

The first thing you need to do is make a plan. You don’t want to step into the gym and feel overwhelmed. It can make people turn away and never come back.

Having a plan that you can go to the gym with can give you the confidence you need to make your time count. For some, this means hiring a personal trainer.

A personal trainer can be a major asset that you can leverage to reach your weight loss goals and objectives faster.

However, it will add more of a financial burden on you. If you don’t want to pay for personal training, you can still formulate an effective plan to reach your goals.

It just requires more work on your end.

2. Ease Into Things

This is a very important tip.

Don’t make the mistake of going to the gym for the first day at full throttle. This is especially true if you are out of shape.

If you would consider yourself out of shape, you need to ease into things.

Even a moderate workout could have you on your back the following day. Overtraining, in the beginning, is an easy way to halt your progress before you even begin. When getting started, you are at an increased risk of sustaining an injury.

An injury is the last thing you want because it’s going to curb your ability to work out or limit the workouts you can do. A good way to ease into your workouts is by going half speed.

Another good thing you should be doing is implementing dynamic stretching before you head to the gym or before your workouts.

Stretching can help you warm up your muscles and prep them for a workout.

3. Use Music That Motivates You

There is a reason you will look around in the gym and find everyone wearing headphones. Most people are listening to music while they are working out at the gym.

Not only does music help increase their intensity, but it can help pass the time. Working out isn’t inherently exciting for most.

You want something that can help you sustain high energy and not get bored. There are scientific reasons why exercise and music are such effective pairings [1].

Some of the research points to the rhythm helping, but there is also plenty of research showing how music’s distraction helps.

Regardless, adding some music to your workouts will usually help in the gym.

Exercises You Can Do At The Gym To Lose Weight

1. Body Weight Exercises

a woman does body squats in the gym

Bodyweight exercises are some of the most underutilized exercises for those seeking weight loss.

While you may assume they aren’t effective for losing weight, they can be a very good place to start before adding anything else.

Why are they so effective? Because the majority of them are compound exercises. You want to integrate compound exercises into your routine for the most effective workouts.

Compound exercises are those that require you to utilize multiple muscles at the same time. These exercises will help you burn more calories than isolated exercises that target one muscle at a time.

Examples of Body Weight Exercises

  • Squats
  • lunges
  • pushups
  • planks

2. Cardio Exercises

a woman runs on a treadmill in pink shoes

You will need to start doing cardio. Cardio is one of the most important elements to incorporate into your gym workout sessions.

After all, the main thing needed to lose weight successfully is to burn more calories than you take in. You need to burn more calories than you are eating and drinking daily. T

his can be very difficult to do without any sort of cardio in your routine. There are plenty of ways to incorporate cardio into your gym workouts.

Find something that you enjoy doing whether it be running on the treadmill, cycling, using the rowing machine, or putting in work on the elliptical.

If you don’t enjoy any of the cardio machines, you could consider getting your cardio outside of the gym.

Going out for a brisk walk or a light jog can be a good way to spend more time outdoors and get in an effective cardio workout.

Examples of Cardio Exercises

  • Treadmill (running/walking)
  • cycling
  • rowing
  • swimming

3. Strength Training

a woman does bicep curls with dumbbells

Once your body is ready for it, you need to integrate strength training into your routine.

You cannot lose weight effectively without doing any strength training. You can do this by either using free weights or by using machines.

Free weights are a better option because they force you to strengthen your stabilizer muscles. Machines will guide the weights which limits their effectiveness.

However, both are going to be good for weight loss.

If you aren’t a big cardio person, strength training can be a very good way to burn more calories at the gym. You can burn a lot of calories by utilizing strength training and it can be just as effective at helping you boost your metabolism.

Some of the best strength training exercises you’ll want to incorporate into your routine are bench press, squats, deadlifts, and other compound exercises.

Examples of Strength Training Exercises

  • Bench press
  • squats
  • burpees
  • deadlifts
  • kettlebell swings

4. Alternate Gym Days

While you could simply go to the gym and take the next day off, you could manage your gym workouts even more efficiently.

If you are focusing on upper body workouts one day, you could go for lower body workouts the next. This can help to ensure that you are giving your upper body muscles the chance to rest while your lower body gets a workout and vice versa.

This is a great way to keep yourself going to the gym daily while still giving your muscles enough of a chance to repair.

5. Increase Your Intensity

One of the best ways to get effective workouts with limited gym time is by boosting your workout intensity. Try to ramp up your intensity and limit the amount of time you rest between sets and exercises.

This is known as HIIT training or High-Intensity Interval Training.

There are plenty of studies that showcase how effective HIIT is for burning fat [3]. If you are constantly busy and using “not having enough time” as an excuse, HIIT is your answer.

By incorporating high-intensity training into your workouts, you can get more effective gym sessions into your daily life without spending hours at the gym every day.

What Else Needs To Be Done Outside Of The Gym?

1. Optimize Your Diet

Your diet is everything. To effectively lose weight, you need to get your diet in check. What needs to be done to your diet? For starters, you need to start counting calories.

While no one enjoys doing it, you will achieve your desired weight loss goals if you know how many calories you are taking in and how many you are burning. The idea is to put yourself at a caloric deficit.

Without doing so, you won’t lose weight. The best way to optimize your diet for weight loss is by cutting excess calories in easy areas. One of the best areas is with your beverages.

Are you a soda drinker?

If so, you will be able to cut a lot of calories from your diet by curbing your soda habit. Are you a big fan of bread? A single slice of whole wheat bread has 82 calories [2].

You can cut bread out of your diet and get rid of a lot of caloric intake that’s unnecessary.

2. Give Yourself Plenty Rest

One of the things that you need to do to lose weight outside of the gym is to give your body enough rest. Some people get so excited about losing weight that they spend all of their time in the gym.

While it’s great to get motivated, you don’t want to push yourself too hard. If you overtrain, not only do you risk getting hurt and stunting your progress, but you also have diminishing returns that you’ll be dealing with.

You need to be giving yourself plenty of time to rest and recuperate. After all, your body builds and repairs muscle fibers while you sleep.

If you aren’t giving your body enough rest, you will be curbing your weight loss efforts.

3. Get a Fitness Tracker

As with tracking your caloric intake, you need to track your caloric burn. Having a fitness tracking device can be a major benefit to someone that is looking to lose weight.

After all, you need to know how many calories you are burning. While these tracking devices won’t be 100% accurate, they can generally give you a good idea of whether or not you are at a surplus or a deficit.

Knowing this can help you further fine-tune your diet or workouts to ensure that you are putting in the requisite work to lose weight successfully.


As you can tell, there are plenty of things that you can do to improve your chances of weight loss success. Going to the gym doesn’t have to be too intimidating.

While you could hire a personal trainer to help you design an effective workout strategy, you can do it yourself. Try to incorporate a mixture of bodyweight, cardio, and strength training into your workouts.

However, if you aren’t a big cardio person, you don’t have to force it on yourself. Try to go out for a walk and incorporate more strength training as a replacement.

The more muscle you have, the more fat you burn.


  1. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/psychology-workout-music/
  2. https://www.verywellfit.com/bread-nutrition-4114942
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2991639/