De-Code the Weight Room

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Fun Fact of the Day: You burn 33% more calories doing supersets (back-to-back sets of two different exercises) compared with sets that let you rest between moves. (The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research)

Article of the Day: Build your Perfect Workout! This interactive tool helps you build a personalized weight workout! Click on the instructions tab first (in red), they explain how the tool works.

The weight room can be an intimidating place full of sweaty boys in cut up shirts grunting ridiculously loud as they throw around too much weight! Get the picture yet? Many women avoid the weight room like the plague for various reasons. 1) They are intimidated by all of the guys bench pressing 800 pounds 2) They are intimidated by the machines. How do you get that stinking seat to change heights anyways? 3) They just don’t know what the heck to do once they get in there!

With a vocabulary lesson on today’s weight room lingo, and a few pointers about what to do when you hit the weight room floor- everyone will be ready to pump iron next to Hulk Hogan.

Gym Lingo 101

Work in: To alternate sets with someone on a piece of equipment. When someone is using a machine, you can ask to “work in.” To do this you will use the machine while the other person rests and vice versa. This works best on machines with weight stacks because you can change the weight easily by moving the pin.

Super Setting: Doing two or three different exercises without resting between sets. (See Fun Fact of the Day above)

Circuit Training: Doing an entire “circuit” of exercises with little to no rest between sets, and then repeating the circuit. Circuits save you time and let you work one muscle while another one is recovering. Check out Lauren's Circuit Party.

Split routine: A strength program in which you work some muscle groups on one day and others another day. For example: Monday: biceps & triceps, Tuesday: chest, back and shoulders, Wednesday: Legs

Isolate: To single out a particular muscle group.

Hypertrophy: Simply, an increase in muscle size.

Recruitment: The portion of a muscle that’s stimulated during a particular exercise.

The 4 principles of Strength Training  

The Tension Principle: In order to develop strength, you must create tension within a muscle. This tension is created by resistance (dumbbells, resistance bands, or body weight).

The Overload Principle: In order to build strength, your muscles must work harder than they are used to. This “overload” results in increased strength, because the body must adapt to the stress placed upon it. To become stronger, you must regularly increase the tension or weight your muscles work against.

The Specificity of Training Principle: This principle refers to the fact, that only the muscles you train will see strength gains. For example, if you do triceps exercise three days a week, your triceps will definitely get stronger, but triceps extensions will have no effect on your other muscles (such as your quadriceps). This is why it is so important to train every muscle in the body.

The Detraining Principle: This principle is a little depressing. If you stop strength training regularly, you will eventually lose the strength you worked so hard to achieve. Without regular exercise, muscles will start to weaken in two weeks or less!

Quick tips to get the most out of your strength training routine:

Always warm up for 5-10 minutes prior to strength training.

Always use proper form. Start with light weights so you can perfect your form before increasing your weight.

Always cool down for at least 5-10 minutes after your workout.

Make sure you change up your program so you avoid boredom and plateaus. Try to change your program every 6-8 weeks to keep your body guessing and seeing results.

Drink water before, during and after exercise.

If you are a beginner, start with machines. They will help you learn proper form and usually have pictures on them with detailed instructions.

Once you advance, switch to free weights. Since they are “free” you have to be very careful about maintaining good form! This is where the mirrors in front of the dumbbells come in (and you thought it was just so “The Situation” could check himself out).

Remember to breathe. Don’t hold your breath while you are lifting weights. Exhale during the hardest part of the move. For example, if you are doing a squat, exhale on your way back up.

Lift like you mean it. If you are busting out 10-12 reps without feeling fatigued, it is time to up the poundage! Your last 1 to 2 reps should always feel tough, but doable. Don't cheat yourself by listing to lightly!

Balance your body. Do exercises for opposing muscle groups (ex: quadriceps and hamstrings). This will help prevent injuries and create a more balanced look.

Have a plan. Decide what exercises you are going to do and in what order before you even go into the gym. This will help you feel more confident and ensure a balanced workout!

Stay nice and steady. When you are using machines or free weights, only lift an amount you can control. Slamming around weights or dropping weight stacks are sure signs of a newbie!

Most Importantly…. Think Total Body: Even if your buns are the only thing motivating you to hit the gym, you can’t neglect the rest of your body! Spot reducing simply does not work! Total body workouts torch fat more effectively because they build lean muscle mass, which as we know burns more calories at rest!

Yours truly,

Lauren G.

Definitions compliments of Shape Magazine, Spark People, and Women's Health

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