Monday, October 03, 2011

3 Years + What I Know about Weight Lifting

Good morning, bloggers!

First and foremost, it is our 3 year anniversary of dating today! We're headed out tonight after work to celebrate after running a wedding errand. The past few years have really flown by and I am so thankful that God brought him into my life as my best friend and the man I love. It's hard to believe that we'll be married next week!

Fitness Fanatics
Seeing that I haven't done a fitness post in quite awhile, I've decided to churn one out this morning. Looking for some tips to stay true to your workout? Click here for my other fitness post.

I used to be a fitness fanatic--working out 6 days a week with the majority of my time spent on the cardio side of things. Long story short, things have changed and now I work out 3-4 times a week at a higher intensity. Why, you ask? Because there is more to life than working out. Some nights I just like to come home and sit on the couch rather than swipe a membership card and devote an hour and a half to the elliptical while playing the same episode of Wheel of Fortune for the second time. Believe me, it's not fun when you already know the answers...

What I Know about Weight Lifting
I recently signed up for a couple of sessions with a personal trainer at my gym. I gave this decision a lot of thought and I am so glad that I did it. Working with my trainer taught me new things about lifting, cardio, and nutrition. He helped me customize a plan just for me that would meet my needs and give me the best results.

When he asked about my goal for working out, I presented these things:
  • I don't want to lose weight
  • Lean muscle gain was my ultimate goal
  • Learning how to use the free weights properly was a high priority
  • I already get more than enough cardio in on my own
He did a great job of taking my criteria and combining it into a fitness plan that focused on gaining muscle without losing weight in the process.

I learned that strength training ultimately is your best choice when you're looking to gain muscle. If you need to lose weight, it is important to do a lot of cardio in your routines, but if you do too much and are not looking to lose weight, it can cut down on the amount of muscle that your body builds. Sometimes weight loss is necessary in order to see muscle, too.

When I used to slave away on the treadmill each day, I built a lot of endurance but never really saw any results. My weight stayed the same and I didn't gain much muscle. Working in the strength training department and really upping my protein intake helped my body build lean muscle faster.

Change doesn't happen overnight. It's important to switch up your workouts so that your body doesn't plateau at one point and then stop gaining muscle. You need to challenge your body--forcing it to adapt, recover, and rebuild--resulting in you becoming STRONGER. It is also important to take rest days so that your muscle tears can heal before you work them again. I like to switch up my strength training for this very reason. Arms and chest one day, legs, back, and abs another. I also switch up between strength circuits, free weights, and the cable machines.

Circuits are generally done with lighter weights with more repetitions. I used to think that these were bogus workouts and that they were a waste of time. Ha, was I ever wrong...these things kick my butt. I am usually drenched in sweat by the time that I complete all of these. Circuits are a great way to switch up your routine from getting too boring and to make sure you hit a variety of muscle groups.

So, what exactly does a strength training circuit look like? Here is just one of the workouts that I complete 2-3 times each week:

Circuit 1
Pushups with taps - 3 x 30
Squat to Row - 3 x 30
Side to side weighted lunges - 3 x 30

Circuit 2
Squat to press - 3 x 30
Ab rollers - 3 x 30
Chest presses 3 x 30

Circuit 3
Deadlifts - 3 x 15
Lateral raises 3 x 15 
Lying leg lifts 3 x 30

Circuit 4
Band walking - 3 x 30
Shoulder rotators - 3 x 15
Lat pull down - 3 x 10

I usually wrap this routine up with 20-30 minutes of light cardio before heading home to refuel with a protein shake. You generally have a 45 minute window after a workout to refuel so that your muscles get what they need. On days that I'm in a time pinch or if I'm headed somewhere after the gym, I'll pack a protein shake (powder, then just add water and shake) or Power Bar in my gym bag to make sure I get something within that window of time.

That being said, I also must share some of the strange things I've seen at the gym--seriously, I can't be the only one who thinks these behaviors are odd:

On Appearance
  • Polos and khaki shorts (are we going golfing after our treadmill session?)
  • White yoga pants and bright-colored underwear
  • Complete sweat suits while running on the treadmill for an hour (how do you not sweat to death?)
  • Flip flops while walking at an incline
  • Perfectly straightened hair and tons of 5:30am
  • Mesh shirts and pushup bras
  • Pants that are two sizes too small (how is that comfortable to move around in?)
  • Denim anything
  • Knee-high socks 
  • Button-down shirts
On Behaviors
  • Riding the elliptical for 5 minutes and then leaving (that's all they did?)
  • Bringing 3 books to read while on the machines
  • Staring at the same magazine page during your entire run (literally staring...not "oops, forgot to flip the page")
  • Sweating like a banshee and not wiping down the machine afterwards
  • Sniffling every. three. seconds.
  • Not wearing deodorant
  • Drying, straightening, or curling your hair in the nude
  • Sitting on the locker room benches without anything on (another reason why I don't put my bag on the bench!)
  • Drinking protein shakes while working out 
  • Extreme grunting/yelling/cursing while lifting
  • Singing along to your headphones while you run

Photo Challenge Day 9: Faceless self portrait

This photo represents a lot about me: first of all, it has my name in the background, and on top of those boxes is my first half marathon medal. Cups from my favorite coffee shop house my markers, since coloring/drawing is another hobby of mine. Front and center is a delicious homemade iced coffee, next to my MacBook Pro, where all of the design magic happens. 

Off to go deal with my hair! See ya!

What are you favorite routines to complete at the gym?
Any strange behaviors that you've witnessed?
What are your current fitness goals?


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