Tag: lifting

Get Fit and Slim Fast: LIFT SOME WEIGHT!

I often hear from female clients and female members that they don’t like to lift weights, especially heavy weights because they don’t want to bulk up. I know I’ve written about this topic at least twice before. Maybe the third times the charm.

The illusion of bulking up is just that. If you really were bulking up from lifting weights quite a few stars would have to align to result in such things.
• One, you would have to be lifting HEAVY twice a day.
• Two, you would have to be eating nothing but boiled chicken and broccoli.
• Three, you would have to be pushing yourself to the ends of your strength during every workout.
• Four, you would have to workout hard 5-7 days a week consistently.
It’s incredibly hard to put on large amounts of muscle mass and for the average gym-goer takes a long time to add any real size in muscle. Women especially have a much harder time putting on size, we do not have the testosterone, the same fat deposits (women have much more affinity to hold fat in the arms and hips than males do), and women have smaller muscle size in general. So any noticeable size in muscle is super hard to accomplish. You can get stronger and you may see your muscles more (generally that’s just a result of losing body fat and less about having huge muscles), but lifting enough to have serious guns will probably never happen.

What will happen if you push yourself and lift heavy weights? You will get stronger. Who doesn’t want to be stronger? The stronger you are the easier lifting your grandchild is. The stronger you are the easier it is to start the lawn mower. The stronger you are the easier it is to climb that hill. Strength means you can do more for yourself, you can be confident in your physical feats (will I or won’t I throw out my back lifting the dog into the car?).

What will happen if you lift heavy weights? You will lose body fat. You will increase your muscle fibers (fibers, teeny tiny fibers), which means that your muscles will burn more calories every day to function. Adding extra fibers means that your whole body will need to utilize more calories every day to sit, to walk, and especially to exercise. How sweet is that?! Without doing any long cardio or scaling way back in calorie intake you can lose body fat just by increasing your squat weight and doing fewer reps. Sounds good to me!

What will happen if you lift weights? You will increase your bone density. You will feel a bigger sense of accomplishment (When was the last time you got off the exercise bike after your regular 45 minutes while reading the paper and said, Man I can’t believe I just did that, I’m awesome!). You will have better body composition, that strapless dress will look so much better with stronger arms, I swear! You will move better and with more confidence.

Lifting heavy weights is as much (sometimes way more) cardio as it is strength. It takes a ton of energy to perform heavy lower body exercises and thus increases your heart rate substantially. Lifting heavy is comparable to sprinting up a hill. That sounds like a great way to kill two birds with one stone!

I hope more women get in the weight room and really work hard with the weights. I am a total believer in pushing yourself and lifting “real weights”. The women that take my lifting classes all look AMAZING. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not churning out huge, beefy, bulging biceped women. Strong means fit. Strong means lean. Strong means healthy. Strong is beautiful. Let’s get strong!

For more information on how to start a strength training program please contact Adriana Brown

Do you have all of the pieces of the fitness puzzle?

There are many sports that involve lifting heavy things. Powerlifting, strongman competitions, the highland games, and the shot-put are all sports involving heavy weights and objects. The sport of Weightlifting is the only sport done with a barbell that is performed at the Olympics. Olympic weightlifting (or oly for short) involves two events, the clean and jerk and the snatch. Both events requires the athlete to lift a barbell from the ground to their shoulders and then overhead (clean and jerk), or directly overhead from the ground (snatch). The lifter needs to move the barbell and themselves at very high velocities to execute the task successfully. This is different than most heavy lifting sports as they use relatively low velocities when compared to weightlifting. You might ask, “Joey, I don’t plan on being an Olympic athlete, why would I want to do Olympic weightlifting?”. A proficient weightlifter has explosive speed, highly coordinated motor patterns, strength, and an exceptionally strong core. These are all qualities of a balanced fitness program.

These characteristics are some of the key components of becoming more athletic. Regardless if you are trying to improve your squash game, or be able bring the groceries inside the house in a single trip, barbell lifting – weightlifting specifically – will benefit you greatly. The core strength that weightlifting develops is unrivaled. The word “functional” strength is thrown around the fitness world all the time. Weightlifting truly develops functional strength and power. Functional core strength is developed with the large amount of overhead activity and movements with high weights away from the body’s center of gravity. While functional hip strength is developed with the quick powerful hip extensions performed throughout each lift.

When determining the training program of an athlete it is important to look at the requirements of the sport. Most sports require speed, strength, power, and agility. These are all components of oly lifting. For example, when was the last time you saw a sprinter leisurely stride out of the blocks during a 100m dash, or when can you recall you have seen a fighter slowly lift his leg to kick an opponent. We must train explosive to become explosive. This is not to say that a proper strength phase of training is not necessary. I am saying that these are all pieces of the puzzle that need to be properly assembled. The incorporation of hypertrophy, strength, and explosive training methods will create a more complete and effective athlete.

Lastly I want to touch on that slow moving sprinter or lame kicking fighter. In the off chance that you do see this happening, it is probably due to an injury. It is common for many athletes to have hamstring and knee injuries. Olympic lifting places a heavy demand on the hamstrings and develops their size, strength, and power. This is important for two reasons. The first reason is that a having stronger, more highly trained group of knee flexors (hamstrings) will resist fatigue more greatly than a non-trained group of knee extensors. This resistance to fatigue will reduce the risk of tearing during movement. The second involves the knee and ACL. The hamstring plays a substantial role in stabilizing the knee and preventing the tibia from sliding from beneath the femur often resulting in an ACL tear. Thus, a more highly trained hamstring can help prevent injuries to the knee. In regards to your shoulders, the overhead lifting develops stability in the shoulder and also helps prevent injuries.
If you have any questions regarding barbells, powerlifting, or general fitness, please contact personal fitness trainer Joey Cole at Jcole@sacng.com.


Pain vs. Pleasure: how do you workout?

Many gym goers will go to their gym, run to the weight room, sit on a machine and read a news paper and think they are working out and doing their body good. I would say that yes they have taken the first step to getting healthier…they have gotten to the gym. But my question would be are they really making any changes in their body that will make them healthier and improve their quality of life? Here are some tips to help you make sure you are getting the most out of your workout time:

  • Make sure to change into proper workout clothes you can sweat in.
    In order to really push your body and workout so that you make progress you need to wear the appropriate attire to accomplish this. This means actually get a locker and change out of your diesel jeans and into clothes that allow you to move freely and perform exercises without hindering your range of motion. Changing into gym clothes should be able to change your mind set and allow you to focus on the tasks at hand…starting a great workout.
  • Make sure your muscles reach fatigue; this is not a comfortable feeling.
    When working out using weights to goal is usually to over load the muscles; this in turn will break down the microscopic muscle fibers. If your body senses a weaker muscle because of the broken down muscle fibers it will try and build up bigger and stronger muscle fibers to resist the stimulus. Your body will continue to do this each time you add enough weight to stress the muscle fibers, so as we workout we need to make sure that we have heavy enough weights to stress our muscles safely. If you can do a chest press or any weighted exercise and hold a conversation with a friend or space off and think about your day the weight is not heavy enough. Your weight is heavy enough to create a positive adaptation to your muscles when you need to concentrate on that movement specifically; recruiting all the muscle fibers to finish all of your reps…and when I say finish all of your reps it should be just barely finish all of your reps. You should look for the last two or so reps to be very challenging where your muscles you are working are shaking and/or burning. This feeling can be slightly uncomfortable but if you are looking to change your body and muscle tone you need to create this feeling.
  • Make sure that you are challenging your heart muscle.
    Your heart is composed of different muscle than your body; it is cardiac muscle. It is very fatigue resistance and involuntary…it is the only muscle in your body that will never stop working as long as you live; which is why we need to make sure that we are working it out properly and ensuring that it is functioning at full capacity. In order to really work the heart muscle we need to make sure we are stressing it; as it needs stress from exercise in order to become a stronger pumping machine. When doing cardio (standing for cardiovascular training – training the heart, blood vessels and lungs) we need to make sure that we are creating enough stress on this system. Sitting on a bike and reading a paper is not enough stress to create an adaptation needed or wanted. At the bare minimum you should try and get to the point where holding a conversation is hard (you should have somewhat labored breathing) and you should be sweating (a by product or work is heat, your bodies defense against raised by temperature is to sweat). If you have never been able to achieve these two tasks while doing cardio try upping your RPM’s or resistance. Going for a longer time at the same pace will not get you to sweat and have labored breathing as much as increasing the intensity or resistance.
  • Make sure your workouts are finished with you being tired
    This is an easy point to discus, in order for your body to grown and get better at anything you must give it enough stimuli to change. This stimulus could be adding more weight to your workouts, increasing the intensity of your elliptical, play a better squash player than yourself, try a more advanced yoga class, swim more laps in the same amount of time…and the list could go on and on. Just remember that by the time you finish your day at the gym you should have known that you were at the gym, you should be putting your gym clothes in one of those plastic bags because they are sweaty and you should have some muscle fatigue where your body feels comfortably tired.

Remember that the goal of going to the gym should be to provide your body with a stimulus and hope for some kind of adaptation. This could be playing squash and working on foot speed, grabbing some dumbbells and hoping to increase your bicep size or swimming in the pool and hoping to increase your speed. The underlying theme is that you should want your body to change for the better; and this will not happen if the effort is not there. This effort is not always comfortable but nothing worth having ever comes to use easily.

Why Lift Heavy Weights?!

Say what…put on weight? That’s rarely the goal. Well I’m here to tell you perhaps it should be more of a goal than you think. I mean, let’s lift some heavy weights! Add an extra 5lbs to the bar, go up 10lbs in your dumbbells, push yourself and let’s move something heavy!

Why? Why not! Lifting heavy (I don’t mean that if you are shoulder pressing 8lbs right now that you should try and press 45lbs the next go around), or what you would consider “heavy” will really help you gain strength quickly and efficiently. Usually when I tell people to move heavy weight, especially women, the first thing I hear is, “But I don’t want to bulk up.” Oh my Lord, if ever there was a misconception! The “bulking” that most people think of when lifting weight comes from many hours in the gym, a high protein diet, heavy heavy weights, and some good genes! To become The Hulk you would really have to put in serious amounts of time and effort. This will not be happening to your average gym goer. But still I hear some people say, “When I’ve lifted heavy before I did seem to get bulkier.” This would come from a lack of fat loss, a lack of a decent diet, and a misconception about what is “bulking.” My guess is the 2 times a week you lifted “heavy” did not in fact give you raging thighs, instead it was the other things you were or were not doing outside of your exercise.

So why lift heavy? There are a multitude of reasons why pushing yourself with the amount of weights you lift is a good idea:

  1. Increase lean muscle mass which = a higher metabolism. The more lean muscle mass in your body the more calories your body burns every day. Unlike cardio, lifting weights and stressing your muscles will burn calories for you while you are doing the exercises, for an hour after, and the many hours after that. While cardio may burn 400 calories in the hour you are running your body soon loses that spike in metabolism and ends an hour after you finish. So while the number may look good on the machine, if you had lifted you would have burned nearly (if not in some cases more) that many calories in 45 minutes and will continue to burn more throughout the day. Muscles need fuel and worked muscles need extra fuel to repair and grow.
  2. Increased strength quickly and efficiently. Squatting with the 10lb dumbbells in your hands 20 times might make you feel like you have gotten a lot done in a short amount of time but in fact we’ve done just the opposite. If burning calories, increasing your strength, and spiking your heart rate is your goal you need to cut the high reps and increase your weight. The heavier weight will push your muscles more (gaining strength), push your heart rate higher (to pump more blood to your strained muscles), and give you much more benefits in half the time (think 5-10 reps instead of 15-20). Your calorie burning will shoot much higher and your body will work much harder in half the reps!
  3. Increasing your mental toughness. It’s hard to lift heavy, not just for your muscles but also for your mind. Telling yourself to try something new, pushing yourself to move up in weight, pushing yourself to keep going even though the back of your mind is telling you it’s too heavy, is so much about mental strength. It’s the old saying, “If I can do this I can do anything” kind of mentality. Work your mind and your body and finally be proud and impressed with what you can do!
  4. So helpful in the real world. I don’t know about you but I have yet to find the 5lb bag of bark/cement mix/bricks at Home Depot. If you can lift it in the gym, when you go to tackle that new retaining wall in your back yard it will be no problem! Long gone are the days of waiting for your husband to come home to move the couch/washing machine/lawn mower/etc, your a strong lady, do it yourself!
  5. It’s fun, it’s hard, it’s mental, it’s a huge accomplishment. I realize it’s not everyone’s goal to deadlift one and a half times their body weight but it should be your goal to be strong, efficient, fit and healthy. Lifting heavy is one of the best ways to accomplish all of those things!

The only draw back to lifting heavy? It’s hard to do if you aren’t sure about your form. It’s hard to do if you aren’t sure about how much you should move up in weight. It’s hard to do some of your exercises without a spotter. My advice…grab a trainer, ask some questions, get a session, and/or join a weight lifting class. If you aren’t comfortable on your own get some help or free advice, that’s what we are here for! The best way to start is move up 2.5-5lbs in the exercises you normally do (lat pull down, dumbbell bench press, lunges, etc) and cut your reps. If that seems too easy for a set of 10, go up another 10lbs. The goal should be to use heavy enough weight that by the time you get to 10 reps you shouldn’t be able to do another. If you aren’t stressing yourself you aren’t lifting heavy enough. This is hard work. It will make you wish you were downstairs running endlessly on the treadmill! Eww.

Have questions? Looking for a good way to get started on strength training? Then please contact Personal Fitness Trainer Adriana Brown.