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FIELDWORKING SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (64,745)
Posts: 748
8/18/13 7:05 P

ARCHIMEDESII - I liked your response. What are the body pump classes like? They offer this at my gym. I do full body strength training on my own but have thought about going to one of these classes. Would the body pump class, even if you went once a week, be helpful in the upper body strength area? I ask because I am pretty comfortable with my lower body exercises (squat, lunges (a couple of variations), standing abduction, etc.). The upper body, is what I dislike working on, mainly because I don't feel like my biceps get enough attention even if the exercises are compound. Even if it is triceps, biceps, and chest, I don't feel like I can lift more than 10 to 12 lbs. (unless I used the machines at the gym). Triceps and chest - no problem. I think the biggest problem is that my left arm is weaker than my right arm.

JENNILACEY SparkPoints: (81,972)
Fitness Minutes: (86,286)
Posts: 2,489
8/18/13 8:54 A

The exercises you listed are all concentration exercises (isolation) which is probably why you're having trouble increasing weight past 3-5 lbs. Isolation exercises are more appropriate for fitness models/body builders who are looking to increase definition and build up specific smaller muscles (after already having a good foundation of mass). Nit-picking to achieve a flawless body sculpted from the peaks of Mt. Olympus.

Compound exercises include; deadlifts, squats, lunges, pull ups, bench press, overhead press, rows, etc.

The reason it is easier to lift heavier weights with these exercises is because they use multiple muscle groups which gives you more strength to lift.

I'll give you an example; bicep curls and tricep extentions. For the first, you're mainly using your bicep to lift. For the second, your tricep.


One arm rows. For OARs you're using your bicep, tricep, upper back, forearms in one simple move. Now considering you're using all these muscles to lift which exercise do you think you'd need to lift more weight to really challenge yourself?

You can also use this *one* exercise to work all of the muscles in your arms plus your upper back. Rather than using 4 different isolation exercises to target each muscle. Why bother with tricep extentions, bicep curls, reverse flys and forearm curls (4 different exercises) when you can hit all these muscles with 1 exercise?

Personally, I only do 4 exercises for my upper body and 4 for my lower body. That's it!

Upper- Bench Press, Overhead Press, Rows and a variant exercise.
Lower- Deadlift, Lunge, Squat and a variant exercise.

So although, I can probably only do 6-8 reps at 15-20 lbs for bicep curls. I lift 50 lbs @ 8 reps for rows. I lift 100 lbs @ 6 reps for my bench and 70 lbs @ 5 reps for my OH press. My powerlifting/strength stats have increased from Novice level to bordering on Advanced in as little 3 months.

If you follow this program. You should double your strength in the next few months. You *must* make sure to eat enough. It's vital to building more muscle mass + strength. Don't be afraid to gain a little weight. Muscle gain, look far more fab than fat gain. I've gained 13 lbs in the last 4 months and still wear the same size 1 I wore before the gain. I'm in the middle of my healthy BMI but still wear the same sized clothes as most girls my height bordering on being underweight. Plus after you gain some muscle mass (and yes, a little fat will come with the gain too) you can do recomp work to achieve a fit body fat % without having to become underweight. With the cut I'm doing now, I should be able to achieve 18% at 110-115 lbs, rather than the 105 lbs it took me to achieve it before.

Edited by: JENNILACEY at: 8/18/2013 (09:35)
ARCHIMEDESII SparkPoints: (200,109)
Fitness Minutes: (299,168)
Posts: 27,329
8/18/13 7:09 A


Do you have a gym membership ? If so, check the schedule for a group weight training class like Body Pump. there are lots of variations out there. Try a boot camp too. If you want to learn some basics of strength training, a class would be a good place to start. Taking a class will also give you access to an instructor who will show you good form. Good form is extremely important when a person starts lifting challenging weights.

How much weight should you lift ? When a woman tells me she doesn't want to lift something heavier than a five pound weight because they're afraid they'll get bulky, I ask them how heavy is their gym or hand bag ? How heavy is their toddler ? If a woman can carry around a 10 pound bag all day, they can handle more than 5 pounds.

I think what most women don't realize is that some muscles are stronger than others. Take shoulder exercises, a five pound weight may fatigue your muscles with 2 sets of 8-12 reps. However, that same five pounds will not fatigue your muscles if you try to do a deadlift or chest press. When weight training, a person requires a variety of weights to fatigue their muscles.

When I work with a PT client, I have weights from 5-20 pounds. I prove to them in that first session that they are stronger than they think. Like I said, if you can carry a 10 pound bag or your 30 pound child, you can lift more than 3 pound hand weights.

Try it some time. Weigh your grocery bags. Weight your hand bag. You can lift that and more. The problems occur when people lift too much weight. How much is too much ? If you're struggling with the weight, it's too much. You should be challenged, but always able to maintain good form. Unfortunately, when I'm in the weight area, I do see people lifting weight that is too heavy for them to handle.

My advice ? Try a class at the gym. definitely buy those two books that the Sarge recommended. I've used them and recommend them too. Don't be afraid to challenge your body with a heavier weight.

MOTIVATED@LAST Posts: 15,457
8/18/13 3:50 A


Most injuries come from dynamic or ballistic movements, which can apply very large (but short duration) forces to muscles and tendons, or from poor form.

Injuries are rare from slow and controlled movements with good form, which is what ST should be all about.

As for being pressured to using more weight, big jumps in weight can be an issue, as it is not just the main muscle being worked, but the entire chain of stabilizing muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones - a big jump can expose a weak link anywhere in that chain.

Instead, go up the smallest increment possible, and once you are comfortable at that weight (and thus strengthening the entire chain), only then go up again.

Yes, listen to your body, but don't let "knowing your body" become an excuse for not challenging yourself.


MOTIVATED@LAST Posts: 15,457
8/18/13 3:42 A

It depends a bit in the exercise. For dumbbell lateral raises (small muscles holding the weight a long way from your body), 5 lbs might be plenty challenging. For a shoulder press (larger muscles holding the weight close to your center of gravity), 5 lbs is probably too light.

But at 5 lbs, you probably can move up a weight increment. I'd recommend trying 7.5 lbs - even if you can only do 4-6 reps at that weight, this is actually more effective ST than doing 12 reps at 5 lbs.

ST is all about quality, not quantity.


8/17/13 11:37 P

The ones you are describing are all isolation movement involving small muscles groups which in general are not strength builders. You need to move to full body and compound movement exercises involving large muscle groups. Squats, dead lifts, lunges, standing presses, bench presses, bent over rowing a pull down and a pull up exercise of some sort are what you should be doing using weights with which you can not execute more than 8 repetitions.

To improve you strength work get a book such as "The New Rules of Lifting for Women " or "Body for Life" and spend some time learning from experts so that you can create quality workouts for yourself.

8/17/13 10:02 P

Anything with arms really; chest fly, bicep curls, tricep extension, the one where you lean forward and bring your arms to the I'm sorry I don't know all the names.

8/17/13 9:22 P

Without knowing the specific exercises you are using those light weights for it is almost impossible to give any sort of knowledgeable answer to your question.

As for the idea that using heavier weights has lead to injuries I respectfully request documentation as to the hows and why since in my 25 plus years of training women and girls with weight training I have yet to run into that problem.

8/17/13 8:45 P

Hehe all good! Happens to me too.

Thanks for the responses! :)

DIANE7786 Posts: 5,068
8/17/13 8:11 P

Oops! My computer is acting up. Sorry about three posts.

Edited by: DIANE7786 at: 8/17/2013 (20:13)
DIANE7786 Posts: 5,068
8/17/13 4:59 P

Sorry about three identical posts. My computer is acting up.

Edited by: DIANE7786 at: 8/17/2013 (20:13)
DIANE7786 Posts: 5,068
8/17/13 4:58 P

My trainer gets annoyed that I can't (won't?) use more than 5 lb weights for any exercise that puts weights above chest level. My arms are very toned from exercise and I'm healthy. I've met several women of all ages who had medical issues, like frozen shoulder (rotator cuff) because they were pressured into using more weight than they could handle. You know your body. Do what makes you comfortable.

UNIDENT Posts: 33,498
8/17/13 4:39 P

Do you find that if you lift up to 12 reps, 1-2 times, that the last couple of reps are difficult to achieve with good form?

If so, those are the correct weights for that move.

If not, yes, going up in weight may be something you could try. :)

8/17/13 4:34 P

I admit it...I use 3-5 pound dumbbells, as well as compound, body weight driven exercises for my strength training. I've been doing it for quite some time, but I still find those weights challenging! Is there something wrong with me?? Lol. I'm not doing a crazy amount of sets or anything, and I absolutely feel the burn! I hear all the time on here:

"women don't be afraid to life heavy!!"

I'm not! But...I can't. Hehe. Is this normal?

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