Though I’ve many times said in Brain Over Brawn and elsewhere that you do not need to go to a gym, some people have access by default through their school, their company or as an amenity of ownership or membership of property or association. And some people just enjoy going to a gym for the atmosphere and camaraderie. Though it’s not for everyone, I might like for it to be in my personal neo-utopian fantasies.
I’ve also said that personal trainers are by and large hacks and charlatans, and that has yet to change in any measurable metric.
With these two facts in mind, I would suggest for both the novice and veteran gym-goer and barbell enthusiast alike to pick up Mark Rippetoe’s “Starting Strength: 2nd edition”. For as much as someone could capably learn a physical, spacial movement (well, a series of movements) via a book, Mr. Rippetoe goes into exhaustive (approaching neurotic) detail. If you intend to mess with big iron plates and bars as your preferred method of resistance training, this is about as close as you can get to someone with accurate information getting uncomfortably close to your ear and rubbing their stubble against your jaw while whispering all the collected minutia and errata they have dutifully gathered over decades of legitimate training.
Ball-busting aside, Rippetoe knows what the haps are, and if you plan to formally lift this is the resource for you. Even if it is your first time in your life entering a gym, chances are excellent you would be far better equipped after reading this book than by taking that ‘complimentary session’ from lycra-clad “Kev” at your local McGym.