Tuesday, January 7, 2014

My upper body weight training routine

So in my effort to do more things that make me proud of my body, I’m getting back into the habit of weight training. I thought I’d share my routine with y’all, since it makes my arms hurt so good every time I do it.

I’m a firm believer in weight training. The best shape I’ve ever been in was probably my junior year of college when I took a Women’s Weight Training course to get a PE credit (thank you liberal arts college). I learned a ton and will be the first to sing the praises of lifting heavy things in order to increase one’s strength and tone up the ‘ol body.

I know a lot of girls fear “bulking up” and looking manly, and this hasn’t really been an issue for me. Everything I’ve read and experienced has proved that women’s bodies are simply not designed to bulk up the way men’s bodies do. So unless you are guzzling testosterone like it’s the only way into heaven, do yourself a favor and give weight lifting a try.

Ignore my pastiness and lack of shower. And how I'm not looking at the camera. I never take selfies for a reason.

Another concern I hear about, and struggle with myself, is that women don’t like to hang out in the “boy’s area” at the gym (also known as the place where the weights are). This area is super intimidating. I know. I try to avoid it like the stomach flu, but for me, weights are where the magic happens. If it’s super crowded when I’m there, I’ll simply carry my weights down the hall into the stretching room or do my exercising in the corner of the track. I know it’s scary to have a bunch of bulky gym rats with their WWE weight lifting belts on and man tanktops drenched in sweat watch you lift weights but try to not care. It’s hard, but remember that you are being SUPER HARDCORE by lifting weights like a badass and they can grunt and swear all they want, the weights belong to you just as much as them. Unless you don’t pay your gym membership fee and use your little sister’s card while she is at college until you finally realized you needed to pony up and get your own membership. Wait, was that me??

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nutritionist, or expert, just a regular girl who likes to have defined muscles. If you are new to weight training and/or have concerns about your ability to lift some heavy things and put them down again, talk to a professional. I also don’t own any of the videos of the exercises. I YouTubed that shiz.

Carlye’s Upper Body Workout:

(I put my current dumbbell weight for each in parentheses, but start light and gradually build so you don’t risk an injury)

-Hammer Curl: 3 sets of 8 (15)

-Shoulder Press: 3 sets of 10 (15)

-Butterfly: 4 sets of 8 (15)

I do a variation of this, but I struggled to find a good video. I bend over slightly and pretend as if I'm grabbing a beach ball between my arms, keeping them bent at the elbows.

-Chest Fly: 3 sets of 8 (12)

-Alternating Bent Over Row: 3 sets of 8 (20)

-Bicep Curls with weighted bar: 3 sets of 10 (30 lbs bar)

-Upright Row with bar: 3 sets of 12 (30 lbs bar)

-Tricep Kickback in static lunge: 2 sets of 10 (12)

-Tricep Overhead Press: 3 sets of 8 (20)

-Bench Press: 3 sets of 10 (45 lbs, just the bar)

Okay, Scott Herman, you're cute but kind of obnoxious...

-Incline Bench Press: 3 sets of 10 (45 lbs, just the bar)

This routine takes me a long time in gym time (almost an hour). A lot of people like quick routines that they can do in 15 or 20 minutes, and I think those are awesome (holla, Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred!) But when I want a hardcore, painful lifting workout, I take my time. The key to weight training, for me is to listen to my body. If an exercise seems too easy and I don’t feel like I want to quit at the end of each set, I know it’s time to either add weight or add another set. Usually I add weight before I add another set, but to each their own. I like to be sore the next day (or later the same day) and this workout is a killer for me.

No matter what kind of exercise or stretching you do, a great tip I’ve come across is to YouTube new exercises before you do them. I know this seems obvious (hello Carlye it’s 2014 get with the program) but form is everything when it comes to exercise. Not only do you risk injury with improper form, you are also not getting the maximal work for your effort (also known as energy). Think physics on this one: Work=Force x Distance** If you are not aligned correctly or do not execute properly, you are not maximizing your potential for that given exercise. Not to mention that a huge percentage of exercise-related injuries are due to poor form. So do yourself a favor and look it up to get the correct form. For instance, about a year ago I learned that I had been doing lunges wrong. Game.Changer.

Good luck, lift heavy!!

**Umm, did I just talk about PHYSICS on my blog?!?! I have shocked even myself. My high school physics teacher—the one who spent the whole year trying to explain even the most basic of concepts to me while I dug my heels in and told him I didn’t need to know any of the shit he was teaching me and would never think about those equations ever again—would be so proud. Any scientists out there want to tell me if I’m right?