You know how you get when you talk about something or someone you love? Like that super animated, talk really fast, lots of inflection in your voice type of talking? That’s how I feel about fitness. I love to talk about running, home workouts, barre… you name it, I’m excited about it! Recently that excitement includes weightlifting. I went from a cardio queen to a lifting machine (OMG, that totally rhymed, I am so happy right now 😉 ).
This was a huge transition for me because I used to HATE lifting weights. I did everything I could to avoid it. I would do extra cardio and then oops, ran out of time, gotta go so I’m not late for work all the time. I just didn’t enjoy it. And I didn’t see the benefits. But so many fitness gurus talk about how weightlifting is super important for women—especially as we get older. So over the past few years I started implementing it into my workout routine. It truly does amazing things for your body. And there’s a ton of different ways to go about doing it! I also learned that it’s much more than “I lift things up and put them down.” Form is everything. Even when weights seem “light” you still need to make sure you’re in proper form so that a) you don’t hurt yourself and b) you’re working the right muscles for that exercise.
And that’s about as scientific I’m going to get about weightlifting because I don’t have too much textbook knowledge on it. But I’ve been doing it for a while now and I am happy to say I see results from what I do and also (:knocking wood:) I don’t feel pain or get hurt often (I feel like I had to add the word “often” in otherwise I sound like a tool if I say “never” and I’ll end up eating my words).
Anywayyyy, there are three different approaches I’ve used over the years for lifting weights.
- Light Weight/High Reps– This used to be my go-to strategy. I’d hit the 8 lb dumbbells and do bicep curls and chest presses for dayzzz. I still use this method sometimes. Usually it’s when I do an EMOM (every minute on the minute) workout. I’ll use the 8 lb dumbbells and curl for one minute straight. This will definitely fatigue my muscles even though I would normally use 15 lb dumbbells but do a lot less reps. To me, it’s just a different way to work the muscles—I’m using lighter weights and doing more reps rather than heavier weights and less reps. It’s a way to switch things up. And not just for my muscles, but for me mentally. I admittedly get bored of doing the same thing week in and week out so changing up HOW I do my lifting gets me more excited to do it.
- Medium Weight/Super Sets– Super sets, by MY definition, is when you do two exercises back-to-back with little to no rest in between- 10 reps each. For example, you might do a bicep curl and then drop those weights and pick up your heavier weights for a bent over (hehe) row. Your “rest time” is basically the time it takes you to put your curl weight dumbbells down and pick up your row weight dumbbells. You can also do this in the form of quad sets where you do four exercises back-to-back. This method is fun because it moves quickly and definitely gets your heart rate up. Obviously you’re not using your max weight (at least not for every exercise) because your muscles will be SPENT with 2.5- 5 lbs less than your max weight—trust ya girl on that one.
- Heavy Weight/Low Reps– This is probably the most effective way to get strong, quick. Meaning, build da muscles. I used to HATE using heavy weights because I thought I’d look like a dude. But I’ve used this approach and definitely like the way it feels to lift heavy weights. Also, I’m pretty sure the only way I’d be able to build muscle like a man is if I started taking testosterone … which is not on my to do list.
Okay, so I told you HOW I lift weights, but I haven’t told you WHY.
- I used to hate wearing tank tops or anything sleeveless because my arms didn’t look good. HA! At 25 I was already thinking my arms looked terrible so I would try to hide them as much as I could. So yes, from an aesthetic standpoint I like the way my arms and shoulders look since I started lifting weights. I feel more confident in tank tops, sleeveless dresses, etc. I like looking cut and definitely enjoy checking out my arms in the mirror sometimes. (What?! I’m just being honest here 😉 ).
- I love seeing the progress I’ve made and feeling stronger every day. I also love saying things like “no, I got it” when someone asks me if I need help lifting or moving something. I have my limits of course, but it’s nice to feel strong.
- I believe that lifting weights has helped me other areas of fitness—specifically running. Even when I used to use weights at the gym I would rarely work my legs. Now I do leg workouts with dumbbells and feel a huge difference. I run once a week and I feel like I’m pretty much just as fast, if not faster, than I’ve ever been (in my adult life) because of incorporating leg workouts to my routine.
- There are so many health benefits to lifting weights but that’s not really my wheelhouse so I’m going to let this beautiful graphic do the talking. (It had me at “feel good” endorphins and reduces stress and anxiety. Anyone else?)
Like I said , I used to hate lifting weights so if you’re in that camp, I totally get it. However, I truly believe that it’s part of a well-rounded fitness regimen. And it doesn’t necessarily need to be 3 or 5 times a week. I will lift for 6 or 8 weeks and then take a break for a couple of weeks. This gives my body time to recover and for my muscles to start craving the lifting again. I totally encourage people to incorporate some sort of lifting into their routine.
I would love to hear other ideas and ways that people like to lift. I’m always looking to try out new things. Please share what you do in the comments!!!