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Emily Corso

For newcomers, lifting can seem complicated and dangerous, and the culture of the weight room is often intimidating. But fear not—Emily Corso, the iron-fisted, warm-hearted MMA pro behind Bold & Badass Fitness, gave us some tips.

Consistency is crucial. Corso recommends hitting the gym at least three days a week. “Treat these scheduled workouts like appointments with someone who will charge you even if you don’t show up.”

Find a workout buddy. Ideally, says Corso, find “a fitness community of some kind: a gym, a team, a coach, friends and family, or even just a Facebook group.” Working out with friends boosts motivation, can help you learn good form, and keeps you accountable.

Start lifting now—whenever that is. “If you wait for the right moment—‘when I lose 10 pounds,’ or ‘when things slow down at work,’ or ‘when my knee stops acting up,’” Corso says, “that moment may never come.”

Don’t get overwhelmed by choice. There’s an enormous number of weight lifting programs out there; pick one and stick with it for a while. Free weights—dumbbells, barbells, and kettlebells—are better than machines, since they more closely resemble real-life movements.

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