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strength training - external or body weights?

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SparkPoints: (123,836)
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1/19/13 2:01 P

Remember that (IMO) health, fitness, and strength BEGIN on the inside and gradually become VISUAL on the outside. This is why one reason why we all should NEVER give up on the changes we work on. It DOES make a difference!!

SparkPoints: (44,500)
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1/19/13 12:56 A

wow the variety is quite amazing. thanx all.

it also amazes me how dancers have such elegant looking arms. Not muscular but not flabby either.

SparkPoints: (36,840)
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1/18/13 10:25 P

I like to change it up. I love using the bands.

Using only your body and mental resistance to work a muscle can be very effective! All you have to do is focus on your form and use internal resistance.

I also like to use weights, however they can get to be expensive. I have 5 sets of weights that I've gotten over the years: 1, 3, 5, 8, and 10 lb weights. I also graduated up to barbells and I have 1.5, 3, and 10 lb weights that I put on it. I love to use the barbells to do dead lifts.

All in all, I like to change it up so that I don't get bored. It also keeps your muscles from getting used to doing the same thing with the same type of weights. Keep them guessing!

Have fun!!

Posts: 504
1/18/13 9:53 P

thanks for the advice....although, the whole 3 year thing is rather intimidating!! WOW! Good for you though...

SparkPoints: (123,836)
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1/18/13 9:43 P

Check out Spark people videos or check out a book or two from the library.

Realize that you can break exercises into "parts": shoulders, back, arms, legs, core. It would be ideal to work each "part" to build strength.

It takes time if you've never done it before. (I've been working at this for @ 3 yrs now, and I'm just now seeing a noticeable difference over the past 4 months.) It DOES make a difference if you stay with it and find a way to work it into your schedule EVERY week!

Good luck in your journey towards health & fitness!

Posts: 504
1/18/13 9:32 P

I am a total newbie at strength training and am interested because I hear it is a must to be fit. I live in a condo with an exercise room, no machines but a whole bunch of free weights. I have no idea what to do with them? Any suggestions?

Posts: 5,603
1/18/13 9:26 P

a mixture - but mostly body weight. I love yoga and the class I do is quite an intense bodyweight workout. I can't do it yet, but am working on being able to lift up my body when seated cross-legged/lotus position. The teacher does that then without touching the ground swings her legs back into plank, holds that (first on hands then elbows then hands again)...

SparkPoints: (35,545)
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1/18/13 2:01 P

I think gym vs home is mostly personal preference. I use to belong to a gym for years, now I don't (for two years). I am actually fitter now than when I belonged to a gym. When I exercised in the gym, I was a little less consistent because it was an extra errand really. The trainers at the gym would steer me to the machines so any lifting I did was with weight machines. I did like the gym studio classes, but I personally get bored exercising with machines. At home, I have no excuses so, I am much more consistent. And I use bodyweight or bands or free weights--in my experience I get better results than I did with the machines at my old gym. I did like the cable machines, but I can replicate those exercises with my resistance tubes and door anchor.

Posts: 1,054
1/17/13 10:49 P

I don't go to a gym because it's just not convenient--20 miles away, so I work out mostly at home with weights, bands, DVD's, on my own, you name it.

I'd probably do better at a gym, once I knew what I was doing, but it just isn't very feasible for me.

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1/17/13 8:28 P

well I use dvds or books or whatever. If I had to go to a gym, I'd never work out, so. . . .

but try to use minimal equipment if any

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1/17/13 5:14 P

I use both resistance bands and free weights, as well as a stability ball and a medicine ball. I like the variety of exercises this lets me do.

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1/17/13 4:35 P

I don't bother with DVDs; I hit the weight room at the gym! I don't need to, I have the equipment here at home, but I do like the variety and availability at the gym. You don't need to, you just need the right equipment. Resistance bands or a set of adjustable dumbbells can go a long way!

You can't lengthen your muscles; those are the size they will be. ;) As a general rule, woman can't bulk up. It's just not in our makeup! Look at Jillian Michaels; I don't like the woman, but you can't deny she's got a great body, and you know she's not a 2lb weight user. ;)

If you properly strength train with full-body moves, you will target your core. You can't isolate your muscles in that way; they're all linked! I do a compound lift one of the trainers at my gym taught me, and it's impossible to do with proper form and not target your core. :) Do a whole body workout! Work it all. You can't change your basic body shape, and targeting individual muscle is kinda a waste of time! Compound exercises target more, save time, and are way more effective. My last round had me sore for two days. ;) And I mean everything... my butt, my shoulders, my core, and my legs!

Check out this great set of articles that should help you a lot:

Toning vs. Bulking Up: The Real Facts

This one will give you the basics:
Reference Guide to Strength Training

8 Ways to Build Maximum Muscle in Minimal Time

Edited by: DRAGONCHILDE at: 1/17/2013 (16:40)

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1/17/13 3:49 P

right now the most "strength training" i do is mutu program and back rx (book) and sometimes Classical Stretch.

oh and I'm considering getting barre3.

what do I want to do with strength training?

i want something thats like strength training AND core training. I want FUNCTIONAL fitness. i want to increase in strength that I can apply in all areas of my life, not just in the gym.

Also, I want long lean muscles. I don't want muscular arms. and I'd like stronger thighs and booty muscles.

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1/17/13 1:56 P

I like all of the above--bodyweight, weights, and bands. I keep changing what I do, though I do this because I am really more of a cardio person than a strength training person. Changing my workouts every month or two keeps it more interesting for me and helps me stay consistent. But some benefits I see:

pros: inexpensive and easy to store at home, easy to travel with, no need for a spotter like you might need for heavy weights, you can change the level of resistance depending on where you hold the band, and if you use a tube with a door anchor you can do most cable machine exercises at home. Oh, one pro for me, I find that when I use tubes or bands I pay more attention to my form throughout the exercise--especially on the lengthening phase because I don't want to snap the band.
Cons: they can tear or break, it is hard to quantify and log the resistance you are using. I have a set of "Bodylastic" tubes (with anchors) and they include a number--like they are supposed to be the equivalent of that number of pounds. I am not sure since the resistance can vary depending on how stretched the band is, but I use the list number as a guideline. Some exercises are a little hard to do with a band.

Pros: no or minimal equipment required (I have a step and free standing bar I use and it adds some challenging exercises like modified pull ups, bodyweight rows, step ups, etc. A stability ball can add a lot of options too.) I find body weight exercies to be fun and empowering.

Cons: It has a little learning curve and it takes a little finesse to modify an exercise up or down according to your strength at the time. (The book You Are Your Own Gym gives advice on this).

Pros: It is easier to choose the specific resistance you need and to quatify and log it. Weights work for a lot of exercises.
Cons: If exercising at home, it can get expensive to keep buying heavier weights as you become stronger. Really heavy weights require a spotter to ensure safety (this is mainly an issue if you exercise at home alone). There may be a storage issue with weights at home dependign on your space.

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1/17/13 12:23 P

Both methods are great, just depends on what you feel like doing. You can even do both at the same time, like doing squats while holding dumbells.

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1/17/13 12:10 P

I want to start trying some of the beginner videos using hand held weights. However, they say "lightweight" but not how many pounds. Does anyone know what weight I should purchase as a beginner? Thanks!


Posts: 682
1/17/13 11:44 A

I think it really depends on your goals and your fitness level. What are your goals? What is your experience with strength training, what does your current program look like and are you seeing any results? There is no universal answer.

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1/17/13 11:39 A

I use dumbbells and machines for my 2 formal strength training routines each week, then 1 day a week I do some bodyweight exercises along with a longer yoga and stretching routine.

Posts: 1,054
1/17/13 10:49 A

I do a combo; I like variety so that works for me. I'm still looking for a good DVD that does a variety of strength moves in several different workouts. I have some, but none are just what I want.

Posts: 2,707
1/17/13 10:34 A

I do a mix of heavy (for me) weights and body weight.

I use a bar for squats, shrugs, calf raises, overhead press, bent over rows, dead lifts and bench press.

I use dumbbells for flys and reverse flys. I will also use them for lunges or skaters or as required in the butt lift video series I'm currently using.

I am currently doing 2 30 day programs, one for the butt and one for core. They're a combo of cardio on this day and ST on that day type programs. Most of the strength stuff is body weight with some dumbbells thrown in. Crunches, leg lifts, squats, lunges, skaters, bridges, planks, etc.

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1/17/13 10:25 A

It comes down to goals. If you want raw strength and muscle gain then bodyweight probably won't cut it for you. Bodyweight exercises are great for functional strength and building muscle endurance. Most bodyweight exercises do a great job of engaging your core and stabilizer muscles while you are working whatever specific area.

Lat pulldowns vs. pull-ups are a great comparison. Lat pulldowns isolate the lats and because you are seated you don't have to engage your core to prevent you from swinging around while doing the exercise. The pull-up is working a whole lot more than the lats so in my opinion its more bang for your buck.

I like to do both. I find that if I do a good bodyweight workout the day after a hard workout with weights it aids in recovery.

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1/17/13 6:53 A

To the extent possible, I prefer to use bodyweight. For example, I think it is better to do pullups than to use the lat pulldown machine. However, I do use the lat pulldown also - but it's supplemental.

For some body parts, bodyweight just isn't enough. For example, the lower back is hard to work out with bodyweight alone. I use barbells for that (although I do several bodyweight exercises also - but in this case, it's the bodyweight exercise that is supplemental to the barbell).

You can also combine them. You can do a pullup with added weight, a pushup with added weight, etc. The added weight can be in the form of a weight plate that you wear on your body. This is a nice way to get the functional advantages of bodyweight training with the limitless resistance of free weights.

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1/17/13 12:56 A

ah thanx so much.

will have to find a good book for these

Posts: 13,652
1/16/13 10:58 P

I love the feeling of bodyweight exercises - I feel like I am working out 'naturally'.

But there are some muscles that are difficult to train effectively without at least some equipment (eg. hamstrings), and I do use resistance bands and dumbbells for some exericses.


Posts: 5,922
1/16/13 10:11 P

all of it........

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1/16/13 10:09 P

I like both, but I have to get out to a gym for external weights. Body weights exercises are perfect for at home when you want a quick 10-15 minutes strength workout before getting in the shower.

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1/16/13 9:57 P


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1/16/13 9:56 P

I like to do all of it!

I go to a bootcamp class that utilizes dumbbells, kettle bells, bands and suspension, but we also do a lot of bodyweight work, too. I love doing those things because it keeps things fresh and there is always an opportunity to try something new.

Bodyweight is definitely the most versatile because you can do it anywhere and adjust your intensity!

SparkPoints: (44,500)
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1/16/13 9:32 P

what do you guys like to do for strenth training?

external resistance like weight or kettle ball or stretch bands?

or do you prefer your own body weight?

what do you prefer? pros and cons?

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