Hitting the gym for the first time can be an overwhelming experience. All the new equipment, the people—everything can make it all a bit much. But just because you're unfamiliar with the gear and surrounded by a bunch of sweaty meatheads doesn't mean you have to feel outgunned. We've all been there.

So whether you want to become the next Lou Ferrigno or just shed some of that extra holiday weight, these four tips will help you get on the fast track to gains—and stay there.