Getting in shape: How to make the gym work out. Part 3

Part 3: 101 guide to carrying people:  Weight Lifting

If you’re just joining us, Part 1 starts here.

It’s common knowledge that if you lift heavy things repeatedly, you’ll get stronger. Currently I’ve been following the Stronglifts.com 5×5 workout, which I think is a great resource.  But weight lifting isn’t just for guys, it’s great for women too.

This guide is also for people who lift already, so keep reading even if you already lift weights. It might be interesting to get another perspective, even if you follow a different routine.

One thing I want to clear up. People might ask, ‘If I lift weights won’t I get bulky and slow?

No. If you can train at a moderate intensity you will actually gain endurance, and you only get bulky if you are trying to put on weight.  This also applies to women.

First off, here are some general guidelines:

Technique is KEY.  If you don’t use correct technique, you can injure yourself.  If you are working out and can no longer hold correct technique with a certain weight, stop.  I see SO MANY people working out incorrectly.  At best, it’s less efficient, at worst, you’re hurting yourself. Take the time to watch videos on how to do an exercise.  Read a step by step guide, it’ll be worth it to prevent injury.  Don’t sacrifice technique to lift that extra 5 pounds and stroke your ego, or try to look impressive.  If you aren’t doing it correctly you won’t get stronger.

A common example of bad technique:  People go in, lift something clearly too heavy for them, and lower it only a few inches.  Or they flail around doing an exercise way too quickly.  Neither works well.

When lifting, going all the way through the movement with a steady, if quick motion, is extremely important.

Get a routine together.  If you don’t know what to do, look online for proven workout routines geared toward your goals.  If you do that, follow them, don’t get too creative.

Don’t go too often, your body needs to rest, especially as you start lifting heavier.  A general guideline is 48 hours for a given muscle to fully recover.

Forget Bicep Curls

The best way to build a foundation is to do exercises like bench press and squats that work multiple muscles at once as opposed to working each muscle individually.  This allows you to lift the most weight, the most times in a given day, using multiple pieces of your body as one.  It’ll also give you balanced muscle growth, you’ll look strong.  Have you ever seen someone who only works out their biceps? They look silly.  Training your full body is important since getting stronger in one area will help your other lifts, and avoid imbalances.

Strength Training

Why do strength training?  Stronglifts has a good introduction. You do low rep, high weight exercises without a lot of rest between sets. This makes it a fairly aerobic. You’ll gain practical strength and build strong dense muscle.  This is based on muscular hypertrophy.  Doing 5 sets of 5 reps, mostly builds muscle strength and a little size. Doing 3 sets of 8 reps gives you more gains in size and less in strength.  However, with strength training, as you get stronger you can lift more and therefore gain more muscle mass.  And honestly, would you rather be strong, or only appear strong?

My results

Since August 2009 I’ve been using Stronglifts 5×5, and it has had some major benefits.  Which is why I linked it so damn much.  I was kind of lost before I started looking into websites built around good routines. From August to the end of November, Joe and I were very consistent. Keep in mind we’d started working out for the first time in May.  On August 11th (I keep a book of our workouts) I got on the 5×5 program:

August 11th: (Everything is in pounds)
Body Weight: ~160
(All are for 5×5)
Squat: 145
Bench Press: 100
Overhead Press: 65
Deadlift: 135

November 30th:
Body Weight: ~168
(Max is 1 rep)
Squat:215 (max: 245)
Bench Press:135 (max: 155)
Overhead: 95 (max: 110)
Deadlift: 265 (max: 295)

I’ve been pretty happy switching to Stronglifts.  It has cut down the time I spend in the gym, but I still do quality workouts.  I stopped doing bicep curls, but after only a few months, weight I could barely pick up I was able to lift for many reps.  I’m still on the same routine now, and I plan to switch over to the Stronglifts Advanced program once I hit my 1.5 bodyweight squat.

Sign Up

Whatever your goal is, commit to achieving it and go do it! It doesn’t take that much time a week to make it to the gym.  Find a gym near you, sign up and get started.

Part 1: Getting started and Goal Setting

Part  2: Run faster and jump higher: Cardiovascular Fitness

Part 3: 101 guide to carrying people:  Weight Lifting – You are HERE

Part 4: Staying Motivated

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