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DRAGONCHILDE SparkPoints: (57,496)
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1/18/13 8:32 A

There is definite value in fewer reps. After all, if you can only do 4 reps of a particular weight, you KNOW you're getting a good workout. :) Your muscles can't count, they only speak in fatigue and challenge. Fatigue them, no matter how many reps that takes, and it will make them stronger!

JENNILACEY SparkPoints: (77,158)
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1/18/13 7:24 A

There are some exercises I can only preform 4-6 reps in the beginning. Just keep doing it and you will increase strength. I started with 5 lbs for alternating dumbbell curls 5 months ago and that time have moved up to 15 lbs. At first I could only do 2 sets of 8 reps with the 15 lbs (about 2 weeks ago) and now I'm doing 3 sets of 8-12 reps. I'm afraid I'll already have to move up in weight again in the next month and I just bought these 15's. I could have probably moved up faster if I knew to do this earlier on. My husband started the same method with his ST. He used to move up once he could do 3 sets of 15 reps but now he has started to move up when he can do 3 sets of 12. He's moved up in weight really fast now compared to what he used to.

I still use the 8lbs for smaller muscles/compound exercises but use the 15's for larger muscles/concentration exercises.

Edited by: JENNILACEY at: 1/18/2013 (07:42)
NAUSIKAA Posts: 4,848
1/18/13 6:47 A

Not "some" value. Great value. When I was involved in the sport of powerlifting, I would show up, my coach would have me warm up, and then I would bench press one rep. And then I would go home. But it would be a lot of weight. There are many different ways to train the muscles. One of those ways is with very low reps and very high weight.

No matter how many reps you do, and no matter how much weight you lift, the last rep you do should be very, very difficult -- but should be done correctly. After you have done it, you will not want to go back and use a lighter weight to do more reps -- you can do that, it's called a pyramid, and some people use it to get to total muscular fatigue -- but it's not necessary if you are truly pushing yourself with your heavy weight.

If you can only do 1 rep, do 1 rep. If you can do 2 reps, do 2 reps. If you can do 8 reps, increase the weight and go back down to 1 or however many you can. You need to do this because you are having serious problems increasing the weight you can lift. Not everyone needs to do this but in your case I think you do.

Barbie Weights only applies if the person can lift considerably more and isn't. I would think that if a woman comes into the gym, throws her 8 kg purse on the floor, and picks up a 1 kg dumbbell. THAT is lack of effort.

HBARRATT SparkPoints: (58)
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1/17/13 8:21 A



"Don't do 15 reps. Just do 1 or 2 reps if that's all you can do in the beginning. When you get up to around 6 or 8 reps, then try the 6 kg. You may have conditioned your body to endurance style lifting and you may see a rapid increase in the amount of weight you can lift. A healthy woman should be able to shoulder press at least 10 kgs after a month of lifting weights so you should expect to get a pretty good increase once you start training for heavy lifting (3-6 reps per set) instead of endurance (15+ reps)"

That's interesting - I always feel like I have to do at least 8 reps to make the lifting worthwhile, but if 1 or 2 reps at a heavier weight has some value then that seems a bit more achievable. I'm starting to think I may need to invest in some adjustable dumbells to use different weights for different exercises.

Just one question: If you were trying to increase your weight for an exercise, would you do 1-2 reps with the heavier weight and then finish the set with your usual weight, and gradually increase the amount of reps with the heavier one, or would you just do as many as possible with the heavier weight each time and leave it at that? (If that makes sense?!)

I feel like I should be able to lift more, because apart from the strength issue I'm very fit, and used to challenging myself physically, and it seems odd to me that I struggle so much with lifting weights.

On a personal level sometimes I feel a bit demoralised because a lot of weightlifting communities that have the kind of information and exercises I find useful are full of very strong women making fun of "Barbie Weights" but forgetting that for some women 4kg is quite challenging, and everyone has to start somewhere. (It's a bit like a marathon runner telling someone less fit that only running 5k is pointless.)

NAUSIKAA Posts: 4,848
1/17/13 7:05 A

2 kg is not a small increase if you're lifting 4 kg now. That's an increase of 50%. You need to find a way to increase by a smaller increment. Get 5 kg dumbbells, for example. Or adjustable ones.

As far as the shoulder press vs. lateral raise go... you should be able to lift more weight with a shoulder press than a lateral raise (usually). Remember that you can do 15 different exercises and use 15 different size dumbbells to do them -- there's nothing that says you should be using 4 kg dumbbells for everything.

Can someone help spot you to doing the shoulder press with 5 kg (again, skip the 6 kg for now). You may be able to do the exercise once you get the weight into position. Most people when they pick up the dumbbells to do the shoulder press rest the dumbbell on their thigh and then kick the leg up to get the dumbbell moving. Here's a video showing what I mean: www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-TjVJoI7D0 I do this because I can lift more with my shoulders than my arms in that awkward position.

Don't do 15 reps. Just do 1 or 2 reps if that's all you can do in the beginning. When you get up to around 6 or 8 reps, then try the 6 kg. You may have conditioned your body to endurance style lifting and you may see a rapid increase in the amount of weight you can lift. A healthy woman should be able to shoulder press at least 10 kgs after a month of lifting weights so you should expect to get a pretty good increase once you start training for heavy lifting (3-6 reps per set) instead of endurance (15+ reps).

CHARMIAN2 Posts: 996
1/17/13 4:34 A

Yes

DRAGONCHILDE SparkPoints: (57,496)
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1/17/13 1:23 A

Have you thought about trying resistance bands instead? They're far more versatile, portable, and a helluva lot cheaper than bumbells, easy to control, and you can easily combine them for "heavier" weights (more resistance.) There's some great resources for them here on this site as well, including a sparkteam and plenty of people who use them.

BERTA6978 SparkPoints: (39,862)
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1/16/13 9:41 A

"Sometimes I wonder if it's the actual size of the dumbells - being large and unwieldy (my 4kg ones are pretty big, and the 6kg ones were the size of large dinner plates at each end!), so difficult for me to keep control of my movements - rather than necessarily the weight of them"

In one of my exercises, this is the case with me. I was using 10 lbs. My dumbell choices were the 10 lb dinner plates and the smaller (colored) 10 lb dumbells. My upper body is small and I can maneuver the smaller, though same weighted dumbells, much better with better form. .


HBARRATT SparkPoints: (58)
Fitness Minutes: (120)
Posts: 11
1/16/13 9:24 A

I started with 2kg weights initially - doing 15 reps of most exercises, but have moved up to my current 4kg weights - so I have progressed, I just seem to have reached a plateau. Sometimes I am able to do a couple more reps (although I have limited time available for workouts so don't want to be doing endless reps! I'd rather lift heavier if possible), but sometimes my strength gives out and my arms go all wobbly and weak- I can't get the weights up more than a few centimetres, or my elbows feel like they're giving way and I'm not performing the exercise correctly - I find this especially happens on shoulder presses and lateral raises.

I have tried lifting 6 kg dumbells, I can hold them by my sides, with relaxed arms,I can do squats and lunges while holding them without too much trouble, and I can sort of do a few curls with them, though I feel like my form isn't good - like I'm using my back and my joints, rather than my muscles. If I try to do lateral raises with them I can't lift them anymore than hip level, and I can't hold that position for more than a brief second without dropping the weights, I can't lift them as high as my shoulders to do a shoulder press. I recently tried hoisting a 15kg sandbag onto my shoulders and my body literally gave way undernetah it! Not good!

Sometimes I wonder if it's the actual size of the dumbells - being large and unwieldy (my 4kg ones are pretty big, and the 6kg ones were the size of large dinner plates at each end!), so difficult for me to keep control of my movements - rather than necessarily the weight of them.

DRAGONCHILDE SparkPoints: (57,496)
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Posts: 9,662
1/16/13 9:06 A

Have you been doing those 8-10 repetitions since you started? If you haven't, that may be your problem. When was the last time you changed your program, or challenged yourself? You say you can't lift heavier... but have you tried? What happens when you do? I'm wondering if the problem here is really your strength... or your fear sabotaging you from trying.

If you can do 15 reps of bicep curls, you're ready to move up. :) Tell me how you feel when you hit that 10th rep? What do your muscles feel like? Are you struggling to pull it up one last time? What's your next weight up? What happens when you go for 15 reps of your normal weights? What makes you stop at 8-10?

Even if you can only do 5 reps of the next weight... THAT IS IMPROVEMENT! That's challenge, and will help you get stronger.

Edited by: DRAGONCHILDE at: 1/16/2013 (09:10)
HBARRATT SparkPoints: (58)
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Posts: 11
1/16/13 8:49 A

Thanks for replying.

I tend to do some strength training twice a week. I use workouts from various net sites including sparkpeople, or sometimes mix and match exercises from different ones.
This was the workout I did yesterday, which is a fairly good example of what i might typically do:

http://www.fitnessblender.com/v/exercise
-detail/Total-Body-Strength-and-Cardio
-Blend/dn/

I usually include some bicep curls, deadlifts, lateral raises, shoulder presses and tricep extensions. Most exercises I do two circuits of 8-10 repetitions, although i can do about 15 bicep curls. Then I round off with some push ups (about 20-30), squats or lunges (around 100), and crunches (around 100).

I do pure cardio (like running or swimming) for about 40 minutes 3-4 times a week, although recently I've got into doing HIIT cardio training after finding a few videos I liked on youtube. My endurance for cardio is well above average, so I feel very much like it's my strength letting me down when it comes to fitness. I know I don't have good "basic" strength (when I first started working out I couldn't even perform one push up) and it was improving, but it feels as if I've reached my limit and i don't know where to go from here.

I'm not bodybuilding especially, but I would like to be stronger for the good of my health and to help me excel in sports and other activities. On an aesthetic level, i do have really skinny arms and I'd like them to be a bit more muscular!


DRAGONCHILDE SparkPoints: (57,496)
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1/16/13 8:26 A

Well, after a year, if you haven't increased your strength, something isn't right with your program. 8.8 lbs is fine for starting out, but you should be lifting more by now. It doesn't take that long to build strength!

In order to help out we need to know what you're actually doing. :) Could you explain your program (sets, reps, exercises you're doing, how often, when in relation to cardio, etc.)

You should be getting stronger. The fact that you're not means that something isn't working.

HBARRATT SparkPoints: (58)
Fitness Minutes: (120)
Posts: 11
1/16/13 8:15 A

I know how important it is to do strength training as well as cardio, and have read loads about how women tend not to lift enough because they're scared of bulking up etc, so for the past couple of years I've been doing a mixture of lifting dumbells at home as well as doing body weight exercises like push ups (proper ones! Not knees on floor!).

I use 4kilo/ 8.8lb dumbells to train with - I started off with 2kg ones and moved up, but have been stuck with 4kg for over a year now, I just can't lift anything heavier with good form. Recently I was talking to my boyfriend about strength training and he claimed that I don't do strength training - apparently the weights I lift aren't heavy enough to count as proper strength training, it's just inefficient cardio. Having done a bit of searching on the net there are a lot of fitness people slagging of 4kg dumbells as "barbie weights" and saying women lifting them need to stop being scared of lifting heavy. I mean, I can pick a 6kg dumbell off the ground, but I can't push it above my head. I don't mean it's hard or it hurts and I'm shying away from it, I mean, I physically couldn't do it if my life depended on it!

The thing is, to me the weight I have ARE heavy! They're at the limit of what I can lift - I surely if I feel challenged by lifting them that still counts as legitimate strength training? So two questions really:

1. Is it OK to be doing this as strength training (in combination with push ups, squats, sit ups, leg raises etc), or should I be doing something else?

2. It seems to be fairly normal for women to be lifting 2 or 3 times as much as me and making fun of the kind of useless little dumbells I use. Yet after a year of training I don't seem to have got any stronger. I also still kind of suck at push ups compared even to people who barely exercise at all and can't do even one chin up to a bar. I feel like a pathetic girly little weakling! what can I do to increase my strength when I physically can't lift any more than I currently do?

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