Weight Training For the Rest of Us
Anybody can get in shape
I've tried training my weights. It's useless. First off, they never listen. Secondly, they tend to be quite cliquish and rude when in groups of three or more. Third, they can be quite stubborn, and often refuse to do as they are asked. Even when you turn the request into a command, often they just ignore you. And forget giving them treats for good behavior. It never works. Training weights is just impossible.
And so we begin, weight training for the rest of us. All kidding aside, it can be frustrating and intimidating to enter a weight room, surrounded by weights, loose weights, free weights, bars, machines; beautiful people; and worst of all, gasp, horror of horrors, walls lined with mirrors.
It's enough to make any person new to weights cringe and retreat. So what is a normal person to do? By normal I mean someone who has a regular job and not four hours to devote to daily weight work. How about the rank and file group of middle-agers, who have discovered that turning forty does something terrible to the metabolism?
I am writing for all the mothers out there, who have had one, two or, like me, eight children. Talk about metabolism killer. My youngest son recently celebrated his seventh birthday. The baby fat around my stomach and butt also celebrated by getting bigger. I didn't even eat the cake. Well, not the whole cake. So what are we, the working, middle aged, not magnificently beautiful, people supposed to do? Where does weight training begin?
Let's take a look at debunking the myths surround weight training and make it approachable for the rest of us. The real people who want to get in shape, but who don't want to spend more than an hour per day achieving that goal.
Normal people can benefit from weightlifting
Ready! Set! Go!
Don't make the mistake of beginning with an unrealistic goal. Start slowly, and build on your own success.
First, set a reasonable time. You know your schedule. How can you tweak it slightly, in order to maximize your opportunity, and achieve fitness success? Getting up half an hour early is realistic for most people.
Next, have a plan. If you are exercising at home, have your clothes ready. Slip into them before you have a chance to talk yourself out of it. If you are exercising during work hours, are you wearing clothes that facilitate your plan? Don't plan to walk for half an hour on the day you wear stiletto heels to work.
Finally, know what you're going to do. Whether it is isometrics, running, walking, jumping jacks, whatever it is, have a plan in place. Don't just stand there in your shorts, wondering what to do next. Know what exercises you plan on executing and do it.
Let's Get Started
As with any exercise program, first consult your doctor. If he falls on the floor laughing, don't take it personally. He was probably thinking of something else. If he gives you the go ahead, then go ahead. Train away, I say. But start easy.
Do not commit yourself to 5:30 a.m. workouts, thinking that you will get them in early and beat the crowd. You will hit the snooze button and go back to sleep, get up, as usual at 6:45 (about twenty minutes too late to be early for work), then berate yourself for the rest of the day for your lack of self-control. By lunchtime you will curse the fitness idea entirely, and have a big lunch, while feeling sorry for yourself. DON"T DO IT!!!!!
If you were actually going to hit the gym at the ungodly hour of 5:30, you would already be doing that, and you would not be reading this. As I stated, the first step is to go easy. Try getting up a half an hour earlier than your usual time.
"What? Half an hour. I can't do anything in half an hour. I'll just be getting warmed up in half an hour," you say. Oh really? Is that so? Then why are you reading this?
In a half an hour, you can do squats, lunges, push-ups, crunches, some more push-ups, and stretching. Wow. I'm tired just thinking about all that work. If you aren't in shape, or you haven't worked out for a while, then half-an-hour is a reasonable amount of time to devote to the endeavor.
To begin, give yourself a reasonable goal, and be willing to make one reasonable adjustment to your schedule. I say get up half an hour early, because your children will never expect it. Before they have a chance to wake up demanding their frosted fruit loops, you will have already broken a sweat. You can feel good about yourself, and get on with the rest of the day. You may even feel good enough to get everyone some healthy breakfast, and skip the sugar laden, nutrient lacking sorry excuse for a breakfast food that I usually feed my kids.
The first step to starting a weightlifting routine, or any other exercise or fitness regime is to be realistic. Set one realistic goal and then do it. And after you do it the first time, then do it again. Do that one thing, over and over again, until it is a habit. Don't start big, only to fail within the first week.
Start small. Give yourself an extra measure of kindness. If you don't want to get up half an hour early, then commit to exercising during the first half of your lunch hour. Or, tell your family that you have to work late, and use the extra time to work out. You don't have to specify what sort of work you are doing. Just take some extra time to take care of yourself.
Once you have carved out the time, you can use weights, or your own body weight as resistance. Don't look for excuses. They will find you. Instead, find ways to succeed. Look for ways to make your goal attainable.
Be reasonable. This is the first step to creating a fitness routine around the rest of your life. It's great to set a goal of running a marathon, or competing in an Iron Man, or getting on the stage in a bikini. Goals are targets. Just don't make your target so tiny that it becomes impossible to focus on.
Set a simple goal and begin moving in that direction. It is realistic to get up half an hour early, or stay half an hour late after work, or to miss part of your lunch hour. And you don't have to invest in a gym membership in order to get in shape. Use what you have on hand. Walk. Stretch. Jump. Run. These activities require no special equipment.
You don't need "weights"
Using your Body Weight
Body Weight Training
If you don't own weights, don't use that as an excuse. Until you purchase your first dumbbells, your own body weight will do quite nicely. Weight bearing exercises abound, using just your body weight. Between sets of squats, lunges, etc.... you can add 100 jumping jacks (about one minute worth). This will boost your aerobic intake and make your workout even more effective. If you can't think of, or don't know what types of exercises you can do, look online. Various exercise magazines also offer home workout ideas.
There are a wide range of fitness video's that use body weight training for fitness. And for the average person, body weight training is sufficient. Push-ups create remarkable upper body strength. Squats and lunges are basics for beginners, and you can modify them to make them harder, without ever adding extra weight. Get creative. Google knows everything. Search for body weight workouts, and you are sure to be surprised by the available abundance of resources.
If you aren't too scared, you can always try yoga. Most mornings, I spend twenty or so minutes contorting myself into all kinds of crazy positions. Then, when I finally get off the bed, I'm warmed up for yoga.
Actually, many yoga poses require one to balance with the weight of the body on the arms. Poses also require leg strength, balance and flexibility. Yoga is also great for strengthening the core muscles.
The greatest benefit of yoga lies in the mental state it usually puts me in. I start my morning thankful for the sun, for my kids, life in general. It is calming and centering. Yoga is a wonderful option for people of any age, in any shape, and of any size. It is easy to learn, and focuses on breathing deeply, centering creating internal balance. All of these factors will improve overall health and well being at any age.
You can begin yoga training gently, and as your strength improves and you learn the poses, you will be surprised at what a great workout you can get.
Body Weight Training
Dumbells and weight training
A simple pair of dumbbells provides many opportunities for exercise in the home. Weight training with as little as three or five pounds can tone underused muscles, and return some of the youthful vigor that our children have stolen. There are many simple routines, using dumbbells, which train the entire body, effectively, in about twenty minutes.
You can alternate light weight lifting with cardio such as jumping jacks, running, or burpees, in order to keep the blood flowing and maximize your workout time.
You can add overhead presses to squats, curls to lunges, and flies to side lunges, to create a whole-body workout that will leave you tingling. The point is to do something more than you did before.
With this amount of exercise, don't expect to win the Mr. America, or Mrs. Universe. Be realistic in your expectations. And be kind to yourself. Did you do more today than yesterday? That in itself deserves praise. Keep moving, be consistent, and be kind to yourself. Feel better, just for today.
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