So, about 1 year ago I went to the gym with my older sister (who will be doing a special post about Cross Fit soon). It was Christmas holidays at the time and I had returned a little bit on the lighter side. I had just started rowing and the competition was intense, and it saw many weekly weigh ins and “weight adjusted times”, essentially my worst nightmare. I watched my weight plummet from a healthy 64kg to 54kg in a shocking space of time. I was in trouble from my family. I wasn’t “underweight” but I wasn’t a healthy weight either. The speed of the weight loss was also a negative factor. I didn’t look good; I had no curves, was a bit drawn, pale, tired, boney, etc. It wasn’t good, I turned it around it though when my sister introduced to me to weight lifting.
Now, initially I thought “But I don’t want to get super muscly”, I can’t even believe I’d thought it, it was a silly thought. My sister promptly put me right as well.
The issue is that I will not be the only one who thought that and people will still think it today. Something everyone should understand is weight lifting will NOT make you look like a body builder unless you force it to. Body builders take things to induce that kind of muscle definition.
Studies have shown that by just introducing 2 weight lifting sessions into your workout can vastly improve metabolic rate. Why? Because muscle burns more calories than fat! You can get toned, lean muscles with burns more calories than fat, so you get increased metabolism and a healthier physique.
Now, when I say weight lifting, I don’t necessarily mean pumping iron with the big boys who are huffing and puffing with their giant olympic bars. You can use the controlled weights (which I do). You also don’t need to lift excessively heavy. Here’s one of my weight lifting sessions as an example;
Note; 3 sets 12 x 20kg = 3 sets of 12 repetitions at 20kg)
- Seated Cable Row (Upper back); 3 sets of 12 x 20kg
- Leg Press (Thighs, glutes, calves); 3 sets 10 x 100kg
- Easy Delts Pull Ups (Centre back, biceps, shoulders); 3 sets 12 x 30kg
(It’s an assisted pull ups machine, you select a ‘supporting’ weight, so I’m supported by 25kg, so I’m pulling 35kg of my own body weight)
- Calf Rotations (Calves); 3 sets 15 x 40kg
- Easy Delts Tricep Dips (Triceps, chest); 3 sets 12 x 35kg
(Here I use the same machine as pull ups but I’m going down, in a tricep dip motion)
- Lower back (Lower back); 3 sets 15 x 1kg
- Shoulder press (Shoulders(; 3 sets 15 x 15kg
- Plank (Core); 3 sets 15 seconds
- Bicep curls; 3 sets 12 x 20kg
- Oblique crunch with kettlebell (Obliques); 6 sets 15 x 16kg (3 sets each side)
- Arm extension (Triceps); 3 sets 12 x 40kg
- Reverse crunch (Lower abdominals); 3 sets 15 reps
- Chest press (Chest, shoulders, triceps); 3 sets 12 x 20kg
- Bicycle crunches (Abdominals); 3 sets 15 reps
- Lat Machine (Lats, or the muscle around your ribs, back); 3 sets 10 x 35kg
This kind of workout takes me roughly 45 minutes to 1 hour. Make sure to stretch after!
Now, I used lift free weights; squatting, deadlifting, bent over rows, cable flys etc but I stopped once I got injured and have found that I save time by using the controlled weights. Time I need to save to fit in studying and things, but body weight or free weights are great ways of developing strong, lean muscles too. A key thing to be aware of with controlled weights however is that you don’t plateau. You’ve got to move out your comfort zone and increase the weights to see a difference and improve toning!
As always though, if you’re unsure about anything ask instructors and trainers. It can be very dangerous if you start lifting without proper technique, even using the controlled weights. If it’s your first time, don’t go for what you think you can lift, go a couple of kilos below that, make sure you’ve nailed the technique, then focus on lifting more. Practice makes perfect.
If you become super serious about weight training and do it often, also make sure you’re packing the protein to maintain muscles and aid recovery. I currently use My Protein Chocolate Smooth Impact Whey. It comes in a fantastic range of flavours and students get 10% if they go through My Student Beans and have an active University account.
So that’s it! Weights are a great way to mix up a workout as well. I alternate between a cardio day and a weights day to keeps things interesting. Tomorrow will be a weights day for example. It breaks up the monotony of cardio, and since doing solid cardio got me in trouble last year it has helped me put on weight. However, I’ll admit I’ve lost too much again, but I’m working on sorting that. Packing my protein and healthy fats!
I’ll make sure to do a post about body weight exercises soo for those who don’t use a gym.
Have a great week everyone!
P.S Any machines names you didn’t know, check out Technogyms list of products to see photos, my gym (and many, many others) stock their products, so it’s likely you’ll have access to similar machines at your gym.