Hey all! Happy weekend!
Today I have such a special treat for you guys. For the last couple of months, I’ve been feeling the urge to start doing some resistance training. The problem? I have no idea what I’m doing!!!
While I was involved in some weight training in high school, I didn’t really know what I was doing then and that has been so long ago that I wouldn’t remember much anyway. That’s where my good friend, Heather, comes in. Heather writes about healthy living over at Where’s the Beach, and she never fails to post awesome meals and awesome detailed explanations of her workouts. And trust me, if you could see this girl’s abs, you want to do whatever kind of workout she does! Not only that, but she’s super genuine and sweet, and is one of my favorite blog friends.
Now enough of my rambling, here’s Heather for some great info on how to get started with weight training as a beginner. I stole this picture from her blog – who wouldn’t want those arms?
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First off, I want to thank Candice for asking me to do this post, I really am honored. And secondly, I appreciate her dedicated readers (you) for taking the time to read this post.
Disclaimer before anyone jumps on my case – I am NOT certified in anything. The following is simply my personal beliefs and suggestions through research and trial and error on my own. If you want professional advice, please talk to a certified personal trainer.
So, you’ve probably read that resistance training is important, especially for women. But your first reaction is, “I don’t want to bulk up!” Go ahead and just push that sentence aside and repeat after me, “I will not bulk up like a man lifting heavy weights.” Seriously, say it out loud. Women who do the fitness competitions work long and hard, very hard at gaining their mass. It is a major effort for women to gain that type of muscle mass. Would you believe me if I said that I use 20 lb dumbbells for curls? I do, and I am no She-Ra. So don’t be afraid of weights – they are your friend. Lifting or resistance training can help prevent osteoporosis, boost metabolism, and help you look slimmer. Um, did you read that? So set your fear aside about bulking up. In fact, as a background lesson, I danced (ballet) for over 20 years. My calves and thighs were rather large from all the jumping, etc. Lifting actually leaned out my legs, and I can now wear “skinny” jeans. No lie.
So, now that you know you’re not going to look like Arnold, where do you begin? I know it can be so intimidating that you just avoid it. I mean, how on earth do you know how many sets, how many reps, how many days, what exercises, what’s the right weight, etc. There are some crazy rotations and methods too: drop sets, super sets, tri sets, giant sets, oh pyramids, straight sets, push muscles, pull muscles, push/pull…holy crap.
So how do you sort it all out especially if you can’t afford a personal trainer. I think telling you how I got started may help you. It’s been a learning process, I won’t deny that. I think one of the easiest ways to get started is how I did – via DVDS. I started lifting doing full-body and circuit workouts. Cathe Friedrich was and is my go-to gal pal for weights. The great thing about starting off with the DVDs is that you don’t really have to think about all the details, you can learn the exercises, names, learn about reps, rep patterns, and learn about proper form (providing the instructor is good of course). But, the problem can be getting in a rut and not changing up the routine, the splits, increasing your weights, etc. You do have to push yourself and not be afraid to pick up that heavier weight and know that hitting failure isn’t a bad thing.
Another thing to consider is how you split out the workout: Full-body or Splitting up the muscle groups. There seems to be some debate about the effectiveness of either style. I think there are pros and cons for both, and I am not here to argue them. Here is one article you can read that sort of explains the differences. But, from personal experience I would suggest starting off with 2-3 full-body workouts a week. Make sure you’re up for the routine of lifting each week. Get familiar with the exercises out there and the weights you’re able to lift (this is so important no matter what you do). Remember, it’s ok if you can only start with 5 lb, but don’t forget to push yourself and try heavier. Next play around with reps and weights – try going for fewer reps, but upping those weights. This is more muscle and strength building.
Do some research or invest in some (more) DVDs and play around with splits. Cathe seriously has some amazing DVDs to choose from for lifting options. I know there are others, I am just not as familiar with them. There are also books that have rotations set up for you (gotta love that) with demonstrations of the exercises as well. Two that I would happily recommend (I own both) are The Body Fat Solution and The New Rules of Lifting for Women.
I mostly do splits now. I have done a total-body rotation (8-weeks) twice since December just to change things up. I prefer to split out the muscle groups though so I can go heavy and focus on that muscle group more and for time reasons. I like to change up the splits too – not always doing biceps and triceps, but sometimes doing say biceps and back, or biceps, triceps, shoulders. The thing is, when you only work that muscle group once a week, you have to hit it hard because you’re then going to rest it a week. For full-body workouts, you gotta keep in mind that you are going to hit that muscle group at least once maybe twice more. Good? Bad? Better? Worse? Each to his own is what I say in life. I think you must adapt your workouts (either weights or cardio or both) to your individual situation, your individual needs, your individual goals. I think the important thing is that you’re lifting.
Lifting and exercising are serious passions of mine, and I hope to inspire others to get fit. I know it can be overwhelming, but don’t give up. Just start with the basics. A few dumbbells and some basic exercises can actually get you farther than you think. You don’t have to have a gym membership even. I almost never lift at the gym and almost never ever use the cabled equipment. At home I don’t even have a barbell. So I hope this post wasn’t more confusing, that it perhaps answered any questions or allayed any fears. Mostly, I hope that it inspires you to pick up some weights.
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Thanks so much for taking time to share with us about this, Heather. If you haven’t checked out Heather’s blog, don’t forget to hop on over there. Heather – you are awesome!
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