5 Tips for Lifting Heavy
My husband’s words of advice to me when I signed up to do my first bodybuilding competition were, “Don’t lift too heavy! You don’t want to look scary.”
I think a lot of men and women have this idea in their heads that if a woman lifts anything heavier than the 3 lb. pink dumbbells she will look like she’s on the steroid happy Russian Olympic team from the 1960’s. The truth is you can lift heavy and still look feminine. The other truth is there are lots of different versions what “feminine” looks like, so you need to find the physique that makes you feel awesome and just go for it.
Likewise, what’s “heavy” for one woman may be light for another, so don’t worry about comparing yourself to the chick next to you, focus on your own goals.
Here are 5 Tips for Lifting Heavy
- If you don’t know what you’re doing, seek assistance. Find a good personal trainer and ask for references. Too expensive? Find a workout buddy who knows her way around the weight room and can make sure you are using proper form. When you don’t use proper form that’s just asking for an injury.
- Build your way up. No one starts by doing a 250 lb. squat. When I work with clients who have never lifted weights before I first have them do a squat just on their own. When I see that they are properly aligned and pushing through their heels, we move up to the squat rack, with just the barbell, no weights. We start with low weight and higher reps of 12-15. As plates are added the reps decrease to 8-10. (People doing powerlifting will eventually max out after doing 1 rep, but honestly most of my clients aren’t looking to be powerlifters.)
- Time your rests between sets. When you lift weights your adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and phosphocreatine (PC) supplies get depleted. When you rest, you are allowing your body time to recuperate these levels. 30 seconds allows you to recover 50% of ATP and PC, 60 seconds allows you to recover 85% and 3 minutes allows you to recover 100% ATP and PC. If your rest time is too short, chances are likely that you will not have enough energy and you’ll feel fatigued. If you rest too long, your body temperature tends to cool down and you’re setting yourself up for injury. I usually let my clients rest 45 seconds to 90 seconds between sets based on how heavy they are lifting and how tired they look after the set.
- Split your muscle groups. When you lift weights you are tearing your muscle fibers. When you rest, those muscle fibers get a chance to repair and come back stronger. This is why bodybuilders split up muscle groups: you can workout almost every day while still allowing individual muscle groups time to rest. A split might look like this: Monday – back and biceps, Tuesday – legs with a focus on quads, Wednesday – abs, Thursday – legs with a focus on glutes and hamstrings, Friday – chest and triceps, Saturday – rest, Sunday – flexibility work, like yoga.
- Eat within 30 minutes of strength training.
It’s best to eat a mix of protein and carbs soon after you lift weights, whether it’s in the form of whole food or a shake. This prevents your body from eating it’s own muscle tissue for energy (kinda gross, huh?) and also helps with increasing the muscle size.
Lifting heavy helps you burn fat, build lean, sexy muscle and makes you feel like a total badass. So go for it!
If you’re serious about getting healthy, but need help getting started, try my S.L.I. Method on my website ShesLosingIt.com. Only YOU can do the work, but I can give you the tools that I’ve learned over the past five years about nutrition, exercise and overcoming excuses.
Lisa Traugott is a Mom’s Choice Award winning writer, fitness blogger, wife and mom of two….and Original Cast Member of AMERICAN GRIT, starring John Cena, on FOX!!!
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