The Cardio Queen, the treadmill troopers: We’ve all seen them. Day after day doing cardio. When we go for a workout, we want inspiration and change, not drudgery. And while cardio alone certainly has cardiovascular benefit, a plateau awaits, along with a healthy dose of boredom.
Pure Austin fitness specialist Eli Oldham is an expert at getting amazing results for his busy clients. So he was the perfect person to consult for a brief “Weightlifting 101.” Weight-bearing activities help to shape the body. They raise our metabolisms by giving us larger muscles that burn more calories when we move and work out, help to strengthen our bones, prevent injuries, and enhance coordination. Oh ya, and help us look good!
If you are just getting started, Oldham recommends you first consider these three things: weight, repetitions, and form. When selecting a weight, choose a weight that is manageable in the beginning but leaves your muscles feeling taxed in the end. If you finish your lifts and feel like you could have done many more, you probably don1t have a challenging enough weight.
Next question he hears, “how many repetitions?” lower rep sets are used for building muscle and strength, while many higher-rep sets are used to build endurance. When starting out, it1s usually best to start in the middle with three or four sets of ten to twelve repetitions.
Oldham stressed that proper form is imperative. When we do lifts correctly, we teach our body how to move safely and effectively. It’s also important to use constant, fluid breaths throughout the lift and to avoid relying on the tension created by holding
Our breath to complete the lift. Choose a variety of lifts that hit all the basic muscle groups in your body. Many people choose combination moves to hit more parts at once and add intensity to their workout. Three great combinations that Oldham recommends for us are the squat-shoulder press, lunge-curl, and plank-row. To perform the squat press, start with your feet about shoulder width apart, your chest and gaze up, and your heels planted firmly on the ground. As you lower your body, hips will shift slightly back as if you are sitting into a chair. They will follow the opposite path as you stand back up. Each time you return to standing, press the dumbbells up towards the ceiling. Hold the weights with your knuckles facing forward. As you lower you’ll bring the weights to a position slightly above and in front of your shoulders. Repeat!
Next, Oldham showed us the lunge-curl. Start in a lowered lunge position with both your legs forming 90o angles. Your back knee will be on the ground, your front knee bent with the knee aligned over the ankle. Your dumbbells will hang by your hips and your palms will face forward with your knuckles facing to the ground. As you raise your body and straighten your legs, your dumbbells will travel into a bicep curl. You’ll want to make sure that your elbows stay close to your ribs so that only your biceps, not your shoulders, are lifting the weights. As you lower your body, your arms will lower the weights as well. Complete all reps on one side and then switch.
The last combo lift Oldham demonstrated is the plank-row. Start by holding a traditional plank (aka push-up) position, but instead of placing your hands on the ground, you’ll be holding onto dumbbells, with your feet about hips-width apart. While keeping a straight line from your shoulders down to your ankles, you’ll lift one dumbbell at a time by tucking your elbow in and squeezing your shoulder blade back tightly. Try to keep your hips from shifting positions to the side or up, as this will dramatically increase the exercise’s effectiveness. As you raise and lower the weights, engage your stomach to hold your balance. Alternate from arm to arm.
Oldham is a great proponent of variety in your workout, and recommends prior issues of L Style G Style to find some great moves. Or, visit with him at Pure Austin. He wants to remind you that the most important part of weight lifting is to do what feels right for you. There is no one size fits all. If the person next to you is lifting 200 pounds, that doesn’t mean you have to. As long as you are doing the right weight, repetitions, and using good form, you are knocking it out of the park!