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Old 09-04-2010, 04:14 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Starting weight lifting

Hello all! I'm new to FitDay and new to weight lifting.

Last Friday I joined a gym for the express purpose of starting to do weight training. I went through the orientation for the gym with a trainer, who suggested I start of with the weight machines for a month, then move to free weights.

My question is this - what is reasonable on the machines? My understanding is to lift the heaviest weight you can to build muscle. Slightly less at more reps for toning. The problem I'm having is that the weight I THINK will lead to fatigue for my legs I end up being able to do 15 reps. Granted, I feel a burn, but I can't say there is muscle failure. The only exception is working the quad extension. I lifted 85 lbs and could only do 10 reps before the burn was too much. For the squat thrust, I ended up doing 185. Inner and out thigh (2 machines) I did 175 for 15. Each machine I do for 2 reps. The only muscle that really burned was the quads.

Arms - not so much a problem. It's easy for me to reach fatigue on them.

So, just starting out - what should I be doing? Focus on the weaker muscules and not push the stronger? Or just go on each machine until I feel the burn?

Next question - I have very week central ab muscles. Sides are OK, but due to a very, ummmm, bad c-section (both lateral and horizonal cuts) the 'six pack' is more like a cube. Any suggestions? I've been doing the plank hold and only today was able to hold it for 30 seconds. From what the trainer told me, the abs are my weakest muscles and it's affecting my lower back.

Please understand that I only started doing some exercising when in my 30's. I've never been athletic and have been overweight since I was 7. I'm working hard to overcome childhood mental conditioning.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 09-04-2010, 04:55 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Push your self in every exercise you do... obviously different muscle groups are going to be able to lift different amounts of weight. Don't focus on one muscle group, work them all and work them hard.
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Old 09-06-2010, 04:22 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Simple and too the point. Thanks.

I've committed to going to the gym and working at an hour Mon-Friday. I'm lifting on Mon, Wed., and Fri. Weights then cardio for the remainder time. I'm not including the stretching in my workout time (I do stretch - too old not too). Tue., Thur is one hour cardio.

I started last week and am heading to the gym this morning.....
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Old 09-07-2010, 05:23 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I just wanted to clarify this one point you made in your original post, cozy. What most people think of as "toning" is actually identical to building muscle. That pumped up feeling you get after the gym, where your muscles feel and look bigger, only lasts for 3-6 hours as your muscle recovers. Real mass that lasts indefinitely, whether its the slender yet dense and curvy muscle on natural (non-"performance enhanced") women, or the full, round, hard muscle on natural men, comes from freshly-built muscle tissue responding to heavy liftin'.

While its true that different rep ranges do different things, it's not in the size or form of muscle you'll build. To build muscle (yes, even for "toning"), the most efficient stimulus is to lift something you can't lift more than five times, and lift it fast. This causes your muscles to want to adapt to the stress, thereby making it easier for you to lift that weight as time goes on. After you've done this, you can make recovery easier by picking a lighter weight and lifting it between eight and twelve times, allowing your blood vessels to really open up and clear out any waste buildup, pump in fresh blood and nutrients, and enhance the local reaction to stress so your muscles can recover faster and not be as sore the next day. The first "building" set you won't feel as much of a burn, but you'll be creating the stimulus for muscle building, while the second "recovery" set will likely burn quite a bit, but will actually help you with the soreness.

On a more practical note, don't hesitate to work out both your strong and weak muscles! Your weaker muscles will catch up eventually, especially when you switch over to free weights.
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My rules:
1) eat real food - more vegetables, moderate meat, moderate fruits, less grains, less sugar, less vegetable oils.
2) exercise - moderate intensity cardio, sprinting, heavy lifting, dedicated stretching and mobility.
3) live - relax, de-stress, meditate.

Disclaimer: I'm not professionally qualified to make any formal recommendations. I've just done my homework and I'm my own guinea pig. All of my data, unless otherwise cited, comes from a sample size of n=1 (me).
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Old 09-07-2010, 02:02 PM   #5 (permalink)
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cozycataloger, don't be discouraged! I found it took me a couple of weeks at least to find out what weight I needed to hit fatigue. It also took me a long time to get used to lifting weights.

What you are starting at is great. Keep upping your weight until you find the weight that will lead you to fatigue. It will do 2 things, 1 - your body will get used to weight bearing exercise and 2 - you will learn what your body can handle.
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Old 09-08-2010, 03:50 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Nic - Thank you for that information. I've always heard to do 8 to 15 reps, not 5. Also to lift slowly, not as fast as I can. It gets confusing

I want to do two things - keep the muscle I have. When I did a commercial weight loss program before, I kept losing muscle no matter how much I tried working out. Lack of sufficient protein I later found out.

Wylie also hit what I'm seeing as my problem - it's taking me a while to found out what weight I can lift.

I guess the one thing that really is flooring me is that I am by no means some shrinking violet. I can lift a LOT more weight - especially with my legs - than I ever imagined I could. I was raised in a rather old-fashioned household where women didn't sweat and were expected not to be physically strong. I'm enjoying finding out how wrong that attitude was and is.

I actually did start using some free weights on the arm exercise. Strangely enough, it's harder to lift even 1/2 the weight I can on the machines.

Thanks for the advice and encouragement!
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Old 09-08-2010, 04:53 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Welcome, Cozy.

Get thee to stumptuous.com and read the whole site.
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Old 09-08-2010, 02:42 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Stumptuous.com is a great site. I also suggestBodybuilding, Weight Training, Nutrition and Diet Guidelines from Mr. Universe Dave Draper as a source of weight lifting sanity.
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Old 09-08-2010, 07:10 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I also noticed that my legs were really strong and it didn't take long before I was upping my weight a lot for fatigue (I think I was up to 250 lb on the leg press). It does make sense that you can lift as much in free weights because with the machines you are isolating one (or one set) of muscles and with free weights you tend to use a lot more muscles just to hold the weights up. I personally like free weights for that reason!
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Old 09-11-2010, 07:20 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Sorry I haven't responded. I had an all day job interview this week and spent a lot of time prepping for it.

Thanks for the sites! Stumptuous is great and the other is full of good information. I'm learning a lot.

It's really gratifying to watch the numbers going up. I'm only at 190 on the leg press, but I'm getting to fatigue by the 12 rep. My weakest leg muscles are my quads - but I've gone from 70 lbs to 90 on them!

You know, this weightlifting stuff is fun!
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