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Weight Training - A Doubters Guide & More

Timeless Fitness Tips...

Do I really have to lift a lot of weight?

Yes and no. You do have to lift enough weight to challenge your muscles, but shouldn't lift so much it causes you any real pain. You want to try to lift enough weight to exhaust the muscle you are working to the point of being unable to lift it one more time. This should occur in 12 to 16 repetitions.

Weight Lifting

Won't this make me huge?

No for women. Men, you will gain more in muscle size, but I've never heard a man complain about that. The reason is ladies, we don't have the testosterone levels necessary for developing huge muscles. What you will do; however, is build lean muscle mass and that will take up less space in your body than fat does. You will likely drop a size or two, even if you don't see too much of a weight loss on your scale.

Do I have to join a gym? I'm not comfortable doing that.

No. If you are new at this, there are exercises you can do with no weights at all that use your body as resistance and will be very effective in building muscle mass. When you feel you are ready for weights, you can buy them and start adding more than just your body resistance. (You can even start with some soup cans, if you wish.) Just make sure you find proper instructions so you don't injure yourself.

Why do I feel foolish and clumsy?

Well, "stop it!" Never feel foolish. The moves will seem odd at first. After all, if you've never done any weight training, the moves will feel alien to your body. This is perfectly normal and we all feel that way when we start. Just find a time when you can have complete privacy and try not to think about looking funny - focus on the muscle you are working.

Will the work-out make me sore?

Yes, most likely. Remember, "no pain, no gain". Especially when you just start a program. Make sure to stretch after you work out. This feels very good - you'll find you look forward to it. If you are real sore, an anti-inflammatory helps, like Tylenol or Ibuprofen. But don't let the soreness flatten you! It's good to keep moving a little to work out the kinks. Also, and this is very important - never do weight training two days in a row!

You can do seperate work-outs for upper and lower body two days in a row, but never work the same muscles two days in a row. Always give your muscles at least one day of rest between work-outs. You can do your aerobics or yoga on your non-weight lifting days. This will further help to work out any kinks as it warms the muscles and sends blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout them.

If you're real sore, go easy on the aerobics, but do move! If your soreness is real debilitating, you are trying to lift too much weight. Lighten up on your next work out. You shouldn't be so sore you can't function. That's not good for you and can be detrimental to your fitness goals.

What if I fall off the routine for a few weeks?

Don't sweat it. You didn't build that strength in a couple of weeks, you won't lose it in a couple weeks, either. Missing even a month won't spell disaster, but don't do it on purpose! The sooner you can get back on your program, the better.

How can I stay motivated?

Keep a diary of your work-outs. Write down the amount of weights you use, the number of reps you're able to do and when you add some more weight or another exercise. At the end of three months, take a good look in the mirror - that may be all the motivation you need! Also important is to pay attention to the way you feel. You should find that there were chores or challenges that were beyond you three or six months ago that you now do with minimal effort because your endurance has improved. Once you grow accustomed to the self-assurance that physical strength training brings, not working your muscles will feel un-natural and you won't have to worry about being motivated - you'll want to keep it up!

Choosing an Exercise Video

Choosing an exercise video can sometimes be a chore. Have you ever bought an exercise video, turned it on and found it was too hard for your level of fitness? Or those dance steps on an aerobics video were just impossible to learn right away - or even at all because you have two left feet?

You're not alone! The key is to find the right exercise video for you. And it's not easy what with the many, MANY exercise videos available. But first, start with a positive attitude and look at it as lots of options, rather than a daunting task.

Guidelines for Choosing Your Next Exercise Video

Choosing the correct video can be difficult, but here are some guidelines that may help:

  • Look for instructor certification.
  • Before buying, rent the exercise video at a video store or borrow it from a friend or library if you can.
  • Make sure a store, catalog, or e-store guarantees satisfaction.
  • Determine your level of fitness and buy videos at this level.
  • Do not get caught up in fad videos with exercises that you are unable to perform.
  • Build an exercise video library based on a variety of discs. This will help to eliminate the boredom of repeating the same disc too frequently.
  • Combine segments from several different discs. Warm up to one, cardio-exercise to another, cool down to a different one. This allows for a variety of instructors and a choice of your favorite segments.

Looking for a Quality Gym

We're going to give tips to guide you when you are looking for a quality gym out side the home. You could also consider a home gym option if you have difficulty finding a clean, reasonably priced, well staffed gym to join. Or perhaps you live in a remote area where it isn't always convenient to get to a gym. Weather, time constraints, long drives, etc., can keep even the best away from a formal gym environment. Having said that however, a home gym is a whole different ball game. For now we're discussing finding a formal gym to join for your exercise needs.

Important questions to ask yourself when looking for a quality gym:

Exercise Group

  • Does the gym staff have academic and life-experience education regarding weight training? They should at least have some sort of certification.
  • Is the gym clean and is the equipment well maintained? Check the seats on benches and machines and make sure they are stable. Make sure the cables do not appear worn.
  • Is the air in a gym fresh and well circulated? It should never smell stale or musty.
  • Is the temperature of the gym maintained at a level that won't increase the possibility of injuries? Temperatures that are too cold make joint and muscle injuries more likely.
  • Does the gym you're considering have any regularly scheduled follow-up evaluations of your progress? It's essential to find out if they offer an initial orientation to equipment you don't know how to use.
  • Does the gym have an emergency medical plan in place and are the staff members trained in CPR and first aid in case someone becomes ill or injured?

Hiring a Personal Trainer

How do you know if hiring a personal trainer is the right choice for you? Consider the following things personal trainers help with.

  • A trainer will help you improve cardiovascular health, strength, flexibility, and endurance, as well as monitor your progress.
  • Body shaping and toning can all be achieved with the aid of a qualified trainer, who can help you set realistic goals and determine safe strategies, while providing the encouragement we all can use.
  • Qualified personal trainers can provide motivation for developing a lifestyle that places a high priority on health and activity.
  • A personal trainer can help you with many health issues. A trainer can even work with your physician or other health care provider to plan a safe, efficient program to reach your health goals.
  • A trainer can show you the correct way to use equipment for cardiovascular work and free-weight training.
  • Get maximum results in minimum time with a program designed specifically for you.
  • An individualized program can improve your overall conditioning and develop the specific skills you need if you are seeking athletic success.
  • A personal trainer can provide mind-body activities, such as yoga to help you uncover new insights about yourself or find potential you didn't realize you had.
  • Benefit From the Buddy System and the encouragement and support it supplies.
  • With the right trainer, you can find the exercise program that works best for you.

These are some ways fitness trainers can help those who feel lost in this area but many can do this on their own and with the help of family and friends. What works for one, may not work for another, so weigh your options and base a decision on what YOU are most comfortable with. Do not let anyone else make you do something you are not comfortable with. This will only associate the experience with negative feelings and you will be less likely to try again.

Don't be a workout-aholic.

Definition of a workout-aholic: "A person with a compulsive need to workout on a regular basis, usually daily, for a number of hours."

Many beginners' train feverishly under the assumption that more is better, especially when results first appear. However, you're much better off easing into the process. You will give your body the ability to adapt gradually, which makes for lasting gains. Quick fixes just don't last.

At first, your muscles are not ready to do a lot more than they were doing before - they're ready to do a little more. You increase your chances of success by moderating your activity a little bit.

The morning after a workout, you want to feel like you trained, but you don't want to have to crawl to the bathroom because your legs do not want to hold you up!

Muscles By The Day

Every single day that you fail to use your muscles, they steadily get slacker and weaker. When you lose muscle mass - something that sadly is inevitable with the aging process - you also lose your capacity to burn body fat.

We start losing about a pound of muscle each year after age 25. This steady decline in muscle tissue has a diminishing effect on your resting metabolism, or the rate at which you burn energy while at rest. This is why excess calories are more easily stored as body fat as we age.

However, there is no biological reason why we have to lose muscle mass like this. Even if some atrophy has already occurred in your body, new evidence shows that any decline can be reversed after just a few weeks of non-strenuous muscular workouts.

Yoga (not power yoga) is a good example of a non-strenous exercise, as is walking, jumping on a trampoline or water aerobics. Tai chi is another good alternative.

Dangers of Weight Training

The number of individuals who are weight training has steadily increased over the past 25 years. With this increase, the number of injuries to weight trainers has increased. Most injuries take place in the home, to the hands and feet. The most common reason for this type of injury is the lack of correct technique and proper safety precautions.

When starting a weight-training program, it is extremely important to learn the correct lifting technique for each exercise. Start with light weights that will allow you to work on proper form. You should be able to perform easily and correctly one set of 15 repetitions.

You can gradually add weight during the first few weeks and lower the number of repetitions. The training objective of the beginning weight lifter is to perfect form and to learn to concentrate on the muscle being exercised.

A workout partner is helpful for spotting, motivating, and aiding you in the correct technique.

A Good Spotter

  • If your partner is benching and the barbell stops moving, don't touch the bar until it stops moving up and starts moving down.
  • Keep yourself free of weights - in other words, don't be holding any weight - while your partner is lifting. Be ready to assist with both hands.
  • Spot the barbell, not the lifter. Never grab the lifter by his arms, etc., always grab the weights if your partner needs assistance.

Final Words on Weight Training

Weight training is, without a doubt, the single best form of exercise for those who want to slim down, tone up and tighten all the trouble spots on the body. Through strength, or resistance training, you can not only sculpt your body, but also increase your metabolism. This means you can burn more fat and calories 24 hours a day, seven days a week!

Studies confirm that strength and resistance training strengthens the heart muscle. It also increases bone density, which protects you against osteoporosis. It lowers cholesterol and can even improve your mood! The mood elevation is from endorphins opiate like effects.

There is really no two ways about it - if you want to look better, feel better, live longer and stay healthy, resistance training is the way to go. You'll get nice definition - and strong shoulders make your waistline look smaller! So don't forget to work those, too.

Food for Thought

To burn off one, 400 calorie, 20-ounce Starbucks Caffe Mocha (with whipped cream), you would have to swim laps for 40 minutes. To burn off one of Starbucks Chocolate Chip Cookies (also 400 calories) you would have to use the stair machine for 40 minutes. To burn off a Starbucks muffin at 450 calories, jog for one hour.

Freebie: Top 18 Benefits of Weight Training (PDF)

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