Sunday, 7 October 2012

Finally taking the next step - - adding weights!

I have been working out for a little over 8 months now (actually 37 weeks), and I am very pleased with my consistency - - I haven't missed a planned workout for 19 weeks running (although there have been a couple of close calls in there!).  And after throwing in an extra workout on a rest day, it looks like working out has become an ingrained part of my daily routine, which is fantastic.

Thus far, my workout routine has been all cardio, all the time.  First with the recumbent exercise bike and rowing machine, then with the elliptical, and now with added purposeful walks as well.

That's all very well and good, but I remember from the last time that I worked out that the way to tone is to do weights, as well as cardio.  A well rounded fitness plan requires a bit of both. 

I don't belong to a gym (no way am I ready for the general public to see me in workout gear!), but I do have some tiny little free weights, perfect for someone starting out like me. 

Back in the day (when I was last working out), I had a full universal weight machine in my basement.  This made it easy to do a range of exercises targeting specific muscle groups.  I always found weight lifting more fun than cardio, likely because my cardio at that time was the recumbent bike (which is boring as all heck), and because I was actually pretty strong.  Even for a girl with feeble Tyrannosaurus Rex arms like me. 

Now, however, I am like an invalid who has been bedridden for years, learning how to walk again.  My muscles need to be trained how to lift weights again, and I need to be very cautious about overdoing it. 

The first time I ever tried to lift weights I worked out of one of Arnold Schwartzenegger's books for hard core weightlifters.  I did a "pyramiding" program on my arms to failure, and I felt amazing - - until the next morning when I discovered that I had blown out both my shoulders and could not lift my arms above my waist without pain.  It turns out that the program I had tried to do was completely inappropriate for my level of fitness and my workout objectives and body form, and I had no business even trying it in the first place. 

Painful lesson learned.  My old weight machine is long gone, sold 5 apartments ago due to lack of space, but I have a small set of free weights to get me started.  This time I am sticking with the baby weights (I am starting with a pair of pitiful 4 pound dumbbells), and only 1 set of 12 reps - - for now.  I think it is important to get my muscles used to the idea of lifting weights again, and I need to make sure I am using proper technique before I get to far along in any weight program. 

Because I am a gadget ho, I am trying out a new app, iFitness, to help me with the weight training.   The app provides instructions for hundreds of different exercises (an absolute must for someone like me, i.e. a rank tyro), and has a number of pre-set routines designed for different needs, like a golf training routine, a weight loss routine, and a business travel routine.  The app also lets you design your own custom routines, which I love, because I don't have access to machines any more, and must focus on dumbbell exercises only. 

I created my own routine, consisting of 9 different exercises targeting shoulders, arms, chest, back, and legs.  For now the routine consists of the following:
     - Shoulder press;
     - One arm row;
     - Seated reverse fly;
     - Modified pushups;
     - Dumbbell bench press;
     - Concentration bicep curl;
     - Seated triceps extension;
     - Beginner squat; and
     - Single-leg standing calf raise. 

It took me about 15 minutes this morning to get through 1 set of 12 reps of each of these exercises after my usual elliptical workout, and I am so unused to working these muscles that I am feeling the workout, minimal though it was. 

My next workout is not until Tuesday.  Over time, I anticipate that I will be able to add more weight and reps to my little routine, but for now, 4 lbs x 1 set of 12 reps is a good way for me to work into this weight lifting thing. 

I have changed my weekly photo documentation to accomodate the new weight lifting, by adding a back photo and flexing (such as I can) to show (my utter lack of) definition in my arms.  Over time, it will be motivating to see some tone start to appear in my arms and legs. 

I am glad I have started to incorporate weights into my workout routine.  It's about time. 

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