It is Sunday people! I love Sundays because they are the official designated ‘Day of Rest.” Sundays are an excuse to binge on Netflix, take 2-hour naps, and get brunch with the girls.
My roommate Lindsey and I have a Sunday tradition that I LOVE. We wake up early, hit the gym with some fasted cardio (I’ll explain this in another blog for those of you who want to learn more about it.), then we grab cofffees at a cute coffee shop, and go to church, (we have an amazing church called Impact Church check it out if you’re in the Scottsdale area.) Then we go to our FAVORITE spot ever called Pomegranate Café. This café is LIFE GIVING! Pomegranate Cafe is an all natural, wholesome healthy foods, gluten free, dairy free, vegan place. I know what you’re thinking, “this sounds awful.” And no I am not vegan but I’m telling you guys the way this place makes food almost makes me want to give up meat…..almost. Today I had raw vegan tacos. OH MY LANTA. How this place takes some crushed walnuts and seasons them just perfectly to taste like real taco meat? I will never understand.
How could you look at this beautiful rainbow of foods and not want to eat it?!
ANYWAYS…. Today I want to blog about lifting. I get it. Walking into a gym with the big muscley men, the weights, the cables, the benches, and all the grunting can be incredibly overwhelming. A majority of the women I talk to who are wanting to start training say that the intimidation the gym and lifting weights brings is their #1 reason for not going to the gym or for staying on the cardio machines. I mean a treadmill is a treadmill. There’s not many ways you can mess up using one. Unless you’re this guy…..
And cardio is GREAT, don’t get me wrong. I do cardio quite often. But you will not get lean and defined arms, a tight, firm booty, or long defined and strong legs doing just spin classes and running. IN FACT: lifting weights and building muscle actually helps the body lose more fat. Because more muscle=less fat. And LADIES: I. CAN. NOT. SAY. THIS. ENOUGH. You will NOT get “big” lifting weights. (Unless of course you are eating copious amounts of protein powder, taking creatine, and injecting some sort of steroid.) Women actually are more prone to diseases like osteoporosis. So learning how to build muscle will prevent diseases like that in the future.
So without further adu these are the tips to prepare you mentally and physically for the next time you enter the gym and want to begin lifting weights.
#1. THE BASICS.
Unfortunately, you can’t just lift a weight up and magically know what to do and start building muscle. It’s all a learning process. So educate yourself. Learning the muscle groups and how they work is very important. For example your thigh area has multiple muscles. You can’t train only quadriceps and not train any hamstrings, adductors, or abductors. You have to understand that the entire body is comprised of muscle groups, and together they all work in unison to create a lean and chiseled look. Hire a trainer (Like myself! Email me at McKenzie@fithappygirl.com if you’re looking for an online trainer or at home trainer), watch YouTube videos, read a book, find a friend who has been lifting for a while to teach you, or practice on machines.
Machines are great because the movements are predetermined and you can learn the movement patterns rather easily. After a while of using machines you will be able to progress to free weights now that you understand the proper movements your body should be doing.
***SAFTEY IS KEY!****
Lifting weights can be very dangerous if not done properly. The #1 thing I work on with all of my clients is understanding that form = everything. When your form is off, the benefits will not be as great and you could injure yourself pretty severely if you aren’t cautious of your form.
– Exhale on the hard parts (lifting, pushing, pressing) and inhale on the easier parts (when you’re lower or releasing the weight).
– NEVER EVER lock any of your joints, this can cause severe damage.
– Release the weight slower than when you lifted, pressed, or pushed the weight.
– Never bounce or swing your body to create momentum, Strictly use muscle strength.
#2. Anabolic vs. Catabolic. And the fancy lingo.
These may sound like big words, but they are important. So I am going to try and make this sound as simple as possible. Anabolic means building muscle (lifting weights). And catabolic means breaking muscle down (running, spinning, biking etc.) We want to focus on Anabolic right now.
Exercises and movements that have resistance (meaning you’re adding weight). Have two different versions: Isolate and Multijoint.
Isolate: uses one single joint. Like a bicep curl, you only bend the elbow.
Multijoint: uses multiple joints. Like a squat, you bend at the knees, hips, and slightly at the ankles. Or maybe a chest press, where you use the joints in your elbows and shoulders.
Mulitjoint exercises are more complex and require time and practice but should be the main event in your workouts. I recommend starting a workout with multijoint exercises because they uses more energy. Then finishing a workout with single joint exercises.
#3. HOW MUCH WEIGHT DO I USE?!
This part can be confusing. Rule of thumb here for all beginners is GO LIGHT. Find a weight that you can perform 12-15 reps without tapping out. This will be beneficial for practicing form and movements. As you get more used to the movements you can add more weights.
For muscle building you genuinely want to stick to heavy weights and lower reps.
For leaning out and fat burning you would do lighter weight with higher reps.
For me I like to do higher reps and lighter weights when it comes to upper body and lower reps and heavier weights for lower body. This is my personal choice, however, each body is different and each person has a different style. It is important to mix it up every now and then.
When I get a new client I make their first workout a TotalBody workout. Because I want them to be able to walk the next day. Be sure that you give each muscle group and adequate amount of rest period. That means don’t train legs 3 days in a row because then they will never have time to repair and grow.
A typical training schedule I would use to lean out is:
Monday – Legs (hamstring and glute focus) + 15-20 minutes of interal cardio
Tuesday – Arms (shoulders, triceps, biceps) + 15-20 minutes of interval cardio
Wednesday – Totalbody + abs
Thursday – Back and chest + 15-20 minutes of interval cardio
Friday – Lower body (quads, adductor, and abductor focus) + 15-20 minutes of intervals
Saturday – Total body hiit. (spin, yoga, running, hiking, etc)
Sunday – Rest!!!
I understand this is quit a bit for someone just starting out. So if you are literally so new to all of this that the thought of working out 6 days a week stresses you out try this schedule instead:
Monday: Legs + 30 minutes of cardio
Wednesday: Arms + 30 minutes of cardio
Friday: Back and chest + 30 minutes of cardio
Sunday: Class: yoga, hiking, running, spin etc.
I really hope that all of this helped you out. There is so much that goes into weight lifting and that’s the reason I got into this business. I am constantly learning new things. However these are the basics that should apply no matter what. So go out there and face that weight rack with confidence. Because who says weights are just for the boys?