A Beginner’s Guide to Boosting your Gym Confidence

Gym Fears and Confidence
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Whether you are a new gym goer or have been a fitness fanatic for years, gyms can be a daunting place for many of us. It can be like this for a number of reasons:

  • Fear of using certain equipment
  • Fear of embarrassment
  • Fear of failure

In this article, we will go through all of these worries, and give you our top tips to boost your gym confidence.

Confidence comes with a whole host of benefits to your fitness journey. You will explore and experiment with new workouts, push heavier weights, run faster, cycle harder and overall just feel better about your workouts.

Fear of Using Gym Equipment/Machines

Let’s face it, because we’ve all done it. We’ve wandered over to a machine, think we know what we’re doing, and totally mess it up. We’re pulling when we should be pushing, we’re going backwards instead of forwards and we’re tying ourselves in a knot. Experiences like this can put us off certain machines/equipment for a long time and can seriously limit our confidence and consequently limit the range of our workouts.

3 top tips to improve your equipment confidence

  1. Use gym instructors. They are there to help and keep you safe. They understand these machines can appear complicated and they want to make sure you’re exercising properly.
  2. Practise with the minimal weight setting. Take some time performing the exercise/movement with no/minimal weight. This will allow you to practise the technique and adjust to the machine. It will also prevent you getting stuck or panicking if it’s not quite the movement you were expecting.
  3. Take your time. Everyone starts somewhere. Most machines have diagrams and instructions of how to carry out the exercise. So, take your time to study it and understand what is required.

These tips will help you carry out the movements/exercises properly and make you look professional first time, which will help boost your confidence massively.

Fear of Embarrassment at the Gym

“I want to be able to do pull ups”. The thing is, we can only really get good at doing pull ups, by doing pull ups! Trying a pull up, or any exercise for the first time is pretty daunting! You approach the bar, scrape one pull up and can’t get yourself back up. You drop down, feeling embarrassed that everyone just saw you totally fail, in your eyes.

‘You don’t need to be great to start, but you need to start to be great’. Exercise progression takes time and to begin with, you may have minimal success on certain things, but with persistence and repetition, you will get better. Everyone has been where you are at some point. So just keep going, and as you persist, confidence and improvements will come naturally.

Fear of Failure at the Gym

This one is a bit more specific to individuals on the weight lifting/resistance training journey. To progress in this domain, you need to progressively overload – increase the weight. However, confidence can lack here due to the fear of failing on the exercise. This is where you can’t move the weight and a lot of things can go wrong.

2 tips to prevent failure at the gym & keep confidence elevated

  1. Use the assisted machines first. This allows you to progress the weight whilst keeping you safe if failure occurs. Using a Smith machine to bench press a heavier weight is a great option to assist your progression as you can lock in if you fail. This will help to give you confidence to do the weight when you return to the free weights area.
  2. Never be afraid to ask for a spot. A lot of people feel shame in asking for a spot. Our advice – don’t. This only shows that you are aiming to better yourself and push your limits. Very rarely will someone say no to being your spotter, and having someone there gives you a lot of confidence to lift heavy and meet those goals and aspirations.


These are the main tips we would give to anyone lacking in gym confidence. Be fearless, experiment, and remember we are all in the gym for the same reason. We hope this advice can help you to continue to progress in your fitness journey!

About the Author

Connor Stead and Andrew Triggs are Sport and Exercise Science students who write about training, nutrition and supplementation in exercise. Their background in sport comes mainly from football where they coach and compete at university level. More recently, they have started giving training and nutritional advice through Instagram (@trainingwithscience).

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