Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Strength Training 101, Some Basics

by Kris Pitcher

Variety is the spice of life, and that couldn't be more true for strength training! Strength training is the most complicated topic to tackle. It's typically one of the last components of fitness that we ladies add. It was true for me...I started as a cardio queen. You gotta start somewhere! All that equipment, those machines, it's confusing. Not to mention the sweaty male dominated weight room, right?

Well sister, the 90's called and said you haven't been in the gym for a while! Those are old ideas. So, let's give you some new ones. First, for all you timid folks check your group exercise schedule. This is a great option if the only weight you've ever lifted is your purse. With TRX (hello - anyone tried that?), sculpting, body-pump...whatever they're calling it there are some resistance classes on the schedule. Get in there and give it a try. You'll have an instructor there to guide you and a room full of people just like you ready to try something new and have a fun time.

But here's some tough love, no offense to my instructor friends out there...if you want to do due diligence to your muscles, you need to get into the weight room. It's really a matter of multi-tasking. The other day when I was brushing my teeth and sorting the laundry...I'm not sure if I did either as well as if I had just focused on my Sonicare for 2 minutes, and then sorted for a minute. Plus, I think I slobbered toothpaste on the dedicates. Strength training in a group ex class is like multi-tasking, it's getting done, but maybe it could be better if you just did one or the other.

There are infinite ways to structure a strength training program but here are some basic rules and things to know to get started. A repetition is completing an exercise one time. A set is a group of repetitions. A beginner might do one set of 10-12 repetitions per exercise. How do you know how much weight to lift? If you can't complete 10 repetitions, it's too heavy (we're beginners), and if you can do more than 12 with beautiful form, it's too light.

Look at you, knowin' the lingo & gettin' the hang of this! You want to work your muscles largest to smallest - oh, now this is getting more difficult. You can't work the same muscle 2 days in a row! I knew you'd love that one! One easy way to organize this is to do your upper body one day, and your lower body the next. Simple.

We can complicate this a WHOLE lot, and that's when you need professional help. And you should always seek a professional before you begin any program. Your gym should have someone available to show you the equipment and machines, and set you up on a program based on your needs. They should also have a Personal Trainer available if you'd like to work with someone.

The weight room is full of regular people, ladies, grandmas, moms, and the requisite guy who's been lifting weights for 30 years and does all kinds of crazy stuff (tip: don't do what he's doing). Go to Target and buy yourself some pink weight lifting gloves for about $15 so you won't callous up those smooth hands and do yourself a favor by getting into the weight room. I know you've been meaning to do it, and now you know the basics.      

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