Hi, everyone! :D
In part IV of my JCAGPS, I bring you the wonderful Samantha of Bikini Birthday! Samantha’s blog was one of the first I found when I started blogging and I’ve been loving her blog ever since. I have a huge respect for her commitment to healthy living and exercise. I consider her the resident blog expert on weightlifting and strength training, unlike a certain blogger who rarely strength trains (*cough* Jessie *cough* at THIH *cough*). I hope you will use Samantha’s guest post as an opportunity to start strength training, or if you already strength train, to mix it up with some new workouts! Take it away, Samantha!
Beach season is around the corner and I made a promise to myself that this summer I would fit into the first bikini I’ve ever worn. Ever. How am I getting in shape? Weightlifting. 4 times a week I’m at the gym for about an hour pumping iron with the meatheads and feeling like a champ.
I’ve never felt stronger in my life.
I should be weightlifting because it has so many health and performance benefits, but really I just I weightlift because I find it fun to do! I can see increases in the amount of weight that I can lift in a relatively short period of time, which really keeps me motivated to push myself harder.
Resistance training allows you to not only increase strength (through both neural adaptation and increase in muscle size) but also power, endurance, and range of motion (read: flexibility). Beginner exercisers can also see an increase in their aerobic capacity. Weight training is the workout that keeps on giving by elevating your metabolism for hours after your workout is over. Most importantly is the implication of weight training on bone density. Once you reach adulthood your bone strength in a constant state of decay. Short bursts of activity like resistance training and plyometrics are essential to maintaining healthy bone density.
Women often worry that lifting heavy weights will leave them looking like Hulk Hogan. Unless you’re taking anabolic steroids, you will definitely not have the testosterone levels to build bulky muscle the same way a man does. Any muscle mass that you do gain will look fantastic at the beach!
So have I convinced you to start weightlifting yet?
If you’re a beginner it’s best to work with a personal trainer to learn how to properly execute movements to prevent injury and to get the motivation to achieve maximum results.
But if you are working out on your own, here are a few tips:
Beginners should experiment with different weights to determine the heaviest load they can lift for no less than 8 and no more than 12 repetitions. You’ll see strength improvements within a few weeks.
After you’ve been at it a few months you will need to adjust your program if you want to continue to see improvement. A well-rounded workout should incorporate components of strength, endurance, and power. For a three day program try one day of strength, one day of endurance, and power on the last day.
Strength building: fewer repetitions with heavier weights (4 sets of 4-6 reps) Endurance building: more repetitions of lighter weights — (4 sets of 10-12 reps, or you can try a Body Pump class) Power building: focusing on plyometrics to train for high-speed strength.
If you’re doing cardio and weights in a single trip to the gym focus on your first priority first. Do you want to be toned for the beach? (weights first) or ready for the marathon? (cardio first)
Don’t have access to weights? No problem. Though it can be a bit tougher to regulate the resistance level, training with body weight is just as effective. Try exercises like single leg squats, push-ups, chin-ups, or dips.
Here`s a well-rounded 3 day gym workout that covers all your major muscle groups:
(Beginner: 4 sets of 10 reps; Intermediate 4 sets of 6 reps)
Barbell Bench Press
Assisted Chin-ups (or full chin-ups if you can)
Incline Dumbbell Bicep Curl
V-Ups (12-15 reps)
(4 sets of 10 reps)
Push-ups (or a variation – easy: on the knees or tough: triangle pushups)
Walking Dumbbell Lunges with bicep curl
Stability Ball Hamstring Curls
Tricep Bench Dips
(Perform each exercise for 20 seconds and then rest for 40 seconds before proceeding to the next exercise. Rest for 2-3 minutes at the end of the circuit. Repeat circuit 2 more times)
Sumo squat and crunch
Single leg squats
Deadlift to Hip Opener
Weighted Ball Crunch and Toss
Good luck and I hope to see you in a bikini this summer ;)
Thanks for the great workouts, Samantha! Once I return from China, I plan on trying these strength training exercises. Maintaining muscle mass as we grow older is the key to keeping our bodies strong and our metabolisms humming along. Also, lean muscles make us look good, too ;)
Q: Do you strength train? Or are you thinking of starting a strength training regimen? What are some of your favorite exercises?