Reshaping Your Body with Weight Lifting
Guest Post by Workout Nirvana’s Suzanne
So you want to make changes in your body, and you’re pretty sure you can do this with resistance training. Well, you’d be right – using weights, bands, and even your own body weight will give your body curves in all the right places, not to mention stronger bones, higher metabolism more energy, strength, and an overall feeling of well-being.
There is MUCH fun to be had with weight lifting, so let’s get started.
Now I’ll assume you’re familiar with the types of weights out there (dumbbells, machines, barbells) because we both know you’ve been walking right through the weight room on your way to yoga. And you’ve eyed the weight room nervously while wondering if you should be in there. The answer is YES – or, in your own living room, whichever is your preference.
So here’s some gentle nudging – no, make that confident fist pumps – to help you get you started. Because if you’re going to lift weights, you need a little attitude. No more “nice girl” here… it’s time to forget that there’s anyone else around and rely on your own STRENGTH – physical and mental.
First you’ll want to be familiar with a few key concepts:
• Repetitions (reps): One complete movement of an exercise.
• Sets: A group of consecutive repetitions.
• Rest: The time taken to recuperate between sets.
Beginners do best with full-body workouts lasting 30-60 minutes/3x week (and never two days in a row for the same muscle group). Start with low weights at first and focus on proper form. Without good form, you can injure yourself! If you can’t maintain good form, you’re lifting too much.
Now keep in mind a key concept in weight lifting: In order to get those sexy, sculpted muscles, you will need to change something about your workout every 4-6 weeks. Your body adapts to the stress you put on it so it needs to be continuously confused. During those 4-6 weeks you will also need to increase the weight whenever you can easily do 12 reps. Your muscles should be very fatigued by the last rep, or you aren’t lifting enough weight.
For each exercise, do 10-12 reps for 3 sets, with 30-60 seconds rest in between each set. For example, you would do 12 bicep curls, rest for 30-60 seconds, and then repeat twice for a total of three sets. Also remember that the less time between sets, the more calories you burn.
Your Starter Workout
Warm up on any cardio machine on which you can pump your arms for 5-10 minutes.
1. Step-up Curl to Press. This is a fabulous full-body exercise that works your lower body, core, biceps, and shoulders. If you cannot stand on one leg long enough to do this exercise, start by standing on two legs.
2. Walking Lunges with Rotation. This works your lower body, arms, and obliques. Grab a medicine ball (start with 2-4 pounds) and a nice longish path in front of you. If you don’t have a medicine ball, simply grab a dumbbell – OR use no weight to start.
3. Two-Arm Squat to Row. This works your lower body and back. You can use a cable machine or a resistance band. If you don’t have bands or a cable machine, you can substitute one-arm dumbbell rows and regular squats.
5. Dumbbell Triceps Kickback. If you want to really harden up your triceps, do this exercise back-to-back with the Triceps Press or Triceps Pushdown. Doing two exercises back-to-back without rest is called a “superset” – that’s one set.
Abs: Try performing the following abs exercises for more reps (15-20). If you’re in a rush, superset two of these exercises. You can also add leg lifts, bicycle, etc. if you want more challenge.
6. Ball Crunch.
7. Reverse Crunch.
8. Plank. You may be familiar with this staple of strength building. Hold for as long as you can, working up to one minute or more.
Are you tired yet? Time to cool down. Spend 5-10 minutes stretching and/or foam rolling your entire body!
You might be surprised at how strength training can transport you to a calm, meditative place. Put your mind to it and dive in. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how tight and sculpted your body will become.
Suzanne is a NASM-certified personal trainer and fitness writer who is passionate about helping women feel at home in the weight room. She writes about weight training, clean eating, and gaining confidence with weights in her blog, Workout Nirvana.
Lisa’s Note: Thank you so much Suzanne! I greatly appreciated her writing this post because I know I do a lot of things wrong when it comes to weight lifting. It’s also great to see a workout routine that I can incorporate into my gym sessions.
QUESTION: Are you a weight lifter? If you want to start but have questions, ask them here!