Let’s talk about…
1 month of heavier lifting
At the end of last year, I was in a pretty big workout funk. I was bored of what I was doing and felt I needed to shake things up a bit. It’s easy enough to switch things up while teaching group exercise classes by looking for new formats and moves, but for my personal workout time I was still feeling pretty blah. I prefer strength workouts over cardio, but all my usual formats and “go-to’s” were starting to feel a little mundane. And to be honest, a little easy. I hated feeling like I wasn’t challenging myself at the gym, I didn’t want to just be “going through the motions” anymore, and I knew I needed a change.
Trying heavier lifting is something that’s been nagging at me for a few months now. My friends Ashley and Lauren and some of the bloggers I read have inspired me to get into it, but 1) heavier lifting intimidated me a bit, and 2) I knew I was going to have to dedicate more time in my schedule to make it actually be effective. This year I decided to stop making excuses for why I couldn’t be lifting heavier on a regular basis, and I set some fitness goals for myself.
During my week off around Christmas, Tim and I went to the gym together many times. Even though I have general knowledge on how to use the machines, I liked having him there as a crutch if I felt self-conscious or wanted him to spot me. It’s a LOT different squatting or deadlifting or bench pressing with a barbell than it is with a set of fifteen pound dumbbells. I decided that for a month I would play around with some different machines and just become accustomed to correct form and movement. I haven’t necessarily been shooting for my one rep max or anything. In fact, I’m not even doing that many low rep formats yet. I’ve just used the last month to play around with general supersets that are 8-10 reps so I can get used to my body and how it feels executing the exercises through their entire range of motion. One of my favorite new formats is to do 3-4 rounds of supersets where the first move is a pre-exhaustion isometric hold exercise, followed by 8 reps of a heavier lift.
I must say that I have really been enjoying the change of pace. Lifting heavier forces to me to SLOW DOWN, which is kind of ironic since that relates so well to what I’m trying to do in the rest of my life. It gives me the chance to focus on one or two body parts at a time. It forces me to really concentrate instead of rushing through a crazy intense fast-paced workout to match my crazy fast-paced life. Don’t get me wrong, I still LOVE those types of workouts (more so in the class setting, both taking and teaching), but this switch just feels good for me right now. Plus, I feel kind of bad ass lifting in a weight room full of dudes.
Yesterday I left the gym feeling very pleased with myself and my shift in workout mentality in just 30 days. After a month of adjusting, I’m at about a 115 pound squat, an 85 pound deadlift, and a 65 pound bench press, and I can maintain that weight for 3 sets of 8-10 reps. I feel ready to increase the weight I’m using and decrease reps in these areas. I’m holding my isometric chin-ups for 25 seconds. And I’m using the assisted pull-up machine, but with less than half my bodyweight. These numbers might not be very impressive to some, but it’s all a big change for me, and a lot farther than where I was even in December.
About two or three years ago I shifted from my usual five and eight pound weights during strength workouts to tens, twelves, and fifteens. And now I’m just ready to take on this new challenge. Seeing your body change, not only in terms of weight, but in terms of what it can do and how much stronger it can get, is just awesome. I can’t wait to see where this new journey brings me.
Let’s talk about…
My workouts from last week
20 minutes steady state elliptical + legs and shoulder supersets + my weight room ab circuit
Lauren‘s spin class and then did a 15 minute core circuit on the bosu
Took Liz’s kickboxing class and then taught my Interval class. There were only 11 people there because of the snow, but we worked hard with my upper body and core focused supersets.
Taught my 6am class with this old countdown workout. I also subbed Lauren’s class on Thursday night, but I did more teaching (and ankle rolling) than doing.
20 minutes steady state on the elliptical, leg day, quick ab work
Let’s talk about…
My workout plan for this week
- Sunday: 20 minutes cardio + upper body lifting
- Monday: Something TBD after work, unfortunately going to need to be at work early and won’t be able to do a morning workout class
- Tuesday: Not sure if I am going to make kickboxing or not (depends on the ankle), then teaching my class
- Wednesday: Rest
- Thursday: Teaching my 6am
- Friday: Probably rest
- Saturday: TBD
As you can see, a lot is up in the air. I’m finding that heavier lifting also forces me to not plan exactly what I’m going to do each day because I never know where or when I’m going to be sore!
Time to talk! I want to hear from those of you who lift heavier. What advice do you have for me? What workout formats do you use for lower rep? What are your favorite lifts to do? How much cardio do you still do? How did you get started with heavier lifting and where are you in your journey now? For those of you who aren’t heavier lifting, do you think it’s something you’d get into or is it too intimidating? For everyone – I would love to hear about your workouts last week or anything else fitness related you want to talk about today.
Can’t wait to hear from you (because it’s not a “talk” unless you talk back, right?!). Happy Sunday!
I love that you’re getting more into heavy strength training! I’ve been lifting for about 7 or 8 years now, but only really getting into the heavy compound lifts (bench, deadlift, squat) about 3-4 years ago. My now-fiancee got me really into it once he was able to convince me that I wouldn’t get bulky 🙂 I have found making strength gains TOTALLY addictive, and I honestly feel so accomplished after a good heavy lift. It’s the perfect start to my day! My biggest advice would be to follow a specific program, there is a great book – New Rules of Lifting for Women — that is a quick read but also has a basic program to follow that’s very good. I think it would be a good way to build a base and track your progress. Good luck!!
Thank you so much for the book recommendation! I’m definitely going to check it out. Thank you for inspiring me too. 🙂
my goal this year is dead lift with 30 lbs not loosing balance, thanks to you i feel pretty good with 20 lbs now. Also, I’ll work on my upper body -especially arms as by the end of 2014 i hope to loose “old lady” fat . Your arms are fantastic!!!
Valeriya, you are doing so awesome in class! It’s inspiring to see you progress every week. Keep it up, girl!
ah! So many questions that I want to answer! First of all, congrats on transitioning into heavy lifting! The benefits are amazing. But the most transforming thing you’ll probably find lies within the mind. Heavy lifting is way more mental than it is physical. Format advice – progression. Generally for a beginner I’d do 4-6 week progressions. Starting with a full body program 3x/wk, then an upper/lower body split, then a muscle group split. And of course those are all based on individual needs/goals. When it comes to cardio – it’s also based around your goals. You don’t really need to do as much cardio and if you do cardio do HIIT. You can also get cardio in on your rest periods by doing jumping jacks, jump rope, etc. Then you’ve got 2 in 1 workout! 🙂 Don’t be afraid to go heavy. Sometimes it can be intimidating to think about the weight. One cue we use a lot is “the weight does not exist”. Instead of thinking about lifting the weight, think about using the muscle. That also helps with form. Go heavy enough that you can still maintain good form. If you go up in weight and can’t get all the reps with good form, just drop the weight and finish out the set. I love heavy lifting. I’ve only been into it for about a year but everything keeps progressing. I was working towards body building and have recently been invited to join a power lifting team, so now I’ll be switching to strength training. Good luck and I look forward to seeing your progressions!
Thank you so much, Jenna! Your comments and advice are super helpful. Congratulations on the power lifting team!
Congrats on your 1 month heavier lifting anniversary! I like seeing that you’re making this work with your busy schedule. I’ve been trying to up my weights, but my BSC sucks and they highest we have in class is 10 pounds!!! how can anyone make gains with that??/ I have to steal 12 pounders from the regular gym and that’s all I can get. It’s so frustrating.