GymBug

I've caught it. Fortunately, it's not treatable.

Archive for the tag “toned”

Heavy v Light; Which weight wins?

Hi there!

Today was weights day and it’s not been an excellent week in terms of recovery and my ability to push myself (I’m sure there may be others who experience this from time to time) and when I was doing my weights training I started thinking about the debate of what’s better; heavy weights, fewer repetitions or light weights, more repetitions?

The common thread for this debate really divides women and men in terms of how they lift. Men will pump iron using the heaviest (and sometimes more) weights they can lift, where as women will opt for the lower weight and more repetitions to avoid ‘getting bulky’. Firstly, this myth needs dispelled, lifting won’t make women super bulky on its own, we simply do not have enough testosterone to bulk like men.

In order to get long, lean muscles you need to reduce fat. Lifting heavier weights will increase muscle mass compared to fat in the body, which will boost your metabolism and lead to an even faster fat loss. So lifting heavy can help women because toned and lean because it helps burn fat.
However, some studies, as summarised in Huffington Post, states that you can do either type of weight training and essentially see the same results! Which means you can go for your heavy (85-90% of your max weight) for 8-10 reps or go light (40-50% of your max weight) for 10-15 reps and still see similar results by the end of a set period! Womenshealth Mag and Building Muscle 101 also discuss this and argue the same.

What they also say however is that you must lift heavy enough to cause muscle fatigue. If you do bicep curls for 30 reps and there’s no burn or exertion required you’re lifting too light and you won’t see a difference. There needs to be some form of muscle fatigue occuring. You also need to be improving week on week to see a difference. For example, when I started at this gym here in Madrid, I was using the bicep curl at 10 x 15kg, I’m now at 10 x 25kg. That has taken me roughly 9 weeks of 3 weights sessions a week, but I progressed. Sometimes, I would only be able to increase the weight by one set, then drop it for the final two, but I increased it when I could. This is key to see improvement and toning. Hoever, you can improve using other methods too;

  • Lift the same weight but with more repetitions within the same time frame and rest times
  • Go for the same amount of repetitions but a heavier weight using the same rest period (but you can extend the overall time taken)
  • Lift the same weight with the same repetitions but reduce the time frame and rest times

I would recommend mixing these up to prevent it getting boring. It’s a good way also to challenge yourself. You won’t see change if you don’t face challenge.

Something els you can do is mix up your workouts between heavy sessions and light sessions. For one week, do a heavy weight session, lifting between 70-90% of your max weight for 8-10 reps. Then the following week reduce it to a light week, lifting 50-70% of your max weight for 10-15 reps. Again, this may help prevent repetitive strain, plateuing and down right boring-ness from creeping in to the workout. Also, studies have found it won’t affect your long-term gains! Win-win.

As always, watch technique. Lifting weights can incur serious injuries if done incorrectly. If you’re lifting and something hurts beyond the usual muscle burn stop immediately and try figure out why. Technique is key to avoiding injury here, don’t push it and do not use something you don’t know the technique for. This is especially true for free-weights.

Overall, I’m pleased I discovered this researchbecause my main struggle in the gym is accepting lifting lighter than last session or not doing a HIIT cardio everytime. I will elaborate in another post about the benefits of not doing HIIT every session. However, now armed with knowledge that if I need to drop the weight (for whatever reason) then I can increase the repetitions and I won’t be compromising my overall long term goals of lean, toned muscle mass.

Also, you may experience ‘bad workouts’. Remember, any workout is better than no workout at all!

Gym Bug

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Weights in a workout

Hi there!

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!

Gym Bug

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.

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