THE BEGINNERS GUIDE FOR SUCCESSFUL STRENGTH TRAINING

THE BEGINNERS GUIDE FOR SUCCESSFUL STRENGTH TRAINING

Today’s post is going to cover the bases of weight training while using 5lbs, 10lbs or 15lbs dumbbells. It’s easy to begin a fitness journey and quickly become overwhelmed with all the terms associated with exercising and weight lifting. So, we’re going to go through the terminology of weight training today. We’re also going to share with you some weight training exercises you can try on your own! But before we begin: an important thing to keep in mind when you begin your fitness journey is: why are you training? Those of us who train with purpose are more likely to succeed in making long-lasting lifestyle changes. 


Finding Meaning For Exercise 

Our value as women is not determined by our body fat percentage, weight, or body shape. It’s time to stop using health and fitness (e.g., weight lifting) merely as a means to build a body worthy of society’s approval.” -Nia Shanks, GirlsGoneStrong.com


Good reasons for a work out regime could be for: preventive health, longevity, competition, athletics, or because of the way it makes you feel. Exercise actually releases ‘feel good’ endorphins. 


Working out for an ideal body image; though, may not result in sustainable lifestyle changes or a maintained weight. Some women new to fitness believe they can stop working out once they achieve their ideal weight. The truth is, at least some lifestyle changes will have to be adopted permanently for weight maintenance and longevity. 


Before you begin your training session keep in mind the reason you’re training, it will power you through the session. Meaning is a very powerful motivator. 


“Do I have to exercise while on the BODY COMPLETE RX Kit?”

Some of you have asked us on social, “Do I have to exercise while on the kit?” The answer is: We HIGHLY recommend it. Maintaining an active lifestyle will only help you feel better and aid you in your wellness goals. Exercise will help maintain a sharp mind as you age, manage weight, help improve mood, help manage blood sugar levels, and could help people stop smoking.


If you’re new to fitness we recommend at the very least 1 hour of cardio or training a week. This could look like one of these three options: 


Option One: working out for 15 minutes 4x a week. ( A light jog, HIIT training sessions, Weight Training different parts of the body on different days, etc.) 

Option Two: Working out for 30 minutes twice a week (Two High Intensity Training sessions a week)

Option Three: One intense or steady-state session (a walk at the same pace or run: a hike, treadmill, a neighborhood walk) for an hour.


Resistance Band Arm Raises (Photo Source Womenhealth.com.)

 

The Bare Basics Of Strength Training: Sets, Repetitions, and Rest Periods 

A set is composed of a number of repetitions (15 biceps curls makes up 1 set). A repetition is a single complete movement (1/15 biceps curls is a repetition). This 1 repetition; though, could be one biceps curl or be a compound movement ( a plank-shoulder taps, a single push-up, return to plank = 1 repetition.) In between sets are rest periods. Interestingly enough, there are actual recommendations on how long you should rest between sets based on the purpose of your training session.



Weight training is how you will “tone, sculpt, shape, or bulk” all of those terms refer to the act of picking up a weight that adds resistance to your movement, taxing your muscles. You can’t achieve full-body toning from running or swimming like you can from weight lifting. It sounds like something purely for men, but we promise it isn’t. We also feel women should be just as informed about exercise terminology as men, even if you don’t plan on becoming a powerlifter. 


If you’re looking to put on muscle mass, women focused on growing a bum, you should lift heavier weights with less repetitions. 


If you would like to increase your muscle endurance so you can get through your spin-class top of the charts, lifting with lighter weights with more repetitions will help you achieve that. 

 

Laying Tricep Raises (Photo Sourced Womenhealth.com)

 

Taking your Strength Training Up A Notch: RM or Repetition Maximum 

If you really want to see muscle growth, you’ll have to keep track of your RM or Repetition Maximum. At certain points, frequently throughout your strength training journey, your muscles grow. In order to continue growing it’s up to you to add more resistance. 


A repetition maximum is how many repetitions you can perform with a weight before you can no longer perform the exercise with good form or at all. 


You’re doing walking dumbbell lunges  and you can’t stand back up without breaking form, putting down the weights, or using something to help you back up. You did 25 walking lunges with 10lbs dumbbells: Your RM is 25RM - 10lbs.

Keeping track of how many reps you can do with a certain amount of weight allows you to increase the weight and encourage further muscle growth. If you’ve been doing 35 glute bridges everyday with a 10lbs weight for 3 months, you won’t see any growth in your bum. You have to maintain stress on your muscles, by either upping the weight, increasing the repetitions, all in addition to controlling the pace you’re executing the exercise. 



Your 1RM stands for something a little different. It’s your personal best. So if you can shoulder press 35lbs one single time with perfect form, but you can’t perform another repetition, that would let you determine your 1RM is:  1RM - 35lbs. However, if you’re not a competitive lifter you may only check your 1RM once or twice a year, maybe even after completing an exercise plan. You can find more information on how to calculate and test your 1RM on most reputable bodybuilding sites. 


Kneeling Shoulder Presses (Photo sourced from Womenshealth.com)

Really Focusing On The Movement: Concentric and Eccentric Contractions 

Have you ever heard that doing a sit-up isn’t an effective exercise? Well, there’s a lot of reasons for that. It could be the positioning of your feet, if you’re stabilizing your feet with something, or even how fast you’re lowering yourself back down to the ground. These all factor into what part of the body you’re training and how well. 


Eccentric movements would be happening while you lower yourself to the ground during a sit-up. Most people let their bodies fall back to the ground, but you should be teasing it out. Challenge yourself by lowering as slowly as possible. The downward motion of a squat is considered an eccentric movement, as well as the downward motion of a pushup. It’s important to pay attention to form throughout the whole of an exercise movement. Don’t drop the weight.


Just like you shouldn’t drop the weight, you shouldn’t jerk the weight up. Concentric Movements are when you contract the muscle and shorten it. Examples of concentric movement: the upwards movement of a dumbbell curl, the upward motion of a pull-up, and the lifting movement when you’re performing a hamstring curl. 


While an eccentric contraction uses less energy and oxygen than a concentric contraction, the negative movement actually creates more force. This not only enhances muscle growth but also increases the rate of metabolism (the conversion of calories and oxygen into energy), promoting weight loss.” -verywellfit.com


If you aren’t able to lift a weight without jerking it, then chances are you need to use a lighter weight or you’ve already hit your repetition max. Dropping or jerking weights puts you at risk for injury.

There’s also the chance that dropping or jerking during the movement means the muscle you’re trying to train is no longer in control, larger more dominant muscles are now taking over to stabilize you during the exercise. Make sure you’re engaging the right muscles for an exercise i.e. your core muscles throughout your sit-ups and not your neck and thighs. 


Renegade Rows (Photo Sourced from womenshealth.com)

 

How Fast Should My Movements Be? 

 

Just like your rest periods vary on the type of exercise you do, so does the speed of concentric and eccentric movements throughout a single repetition. We can split up the training objective in the same four categories:  

  • For Building Strength
  • [Muscle Overload, Proggressive Weight Increase]

     

  • For Increasing Muscle Size
  • [Lighter Weight, More Repetitions]

     

  • For Muscle Endurance
  • [Lighter Weight, More Repetitions]

     

  • For Over-all Power
  • [Building Strength First, Then Fast Light-Weight Repetitions]

     
    Determining the reason for weight training will help you decide how long to rest and at what pace to work out. 


    Remember to breathe while you’re strength training: exhale with effort i.e. exhale while lifting the dumbbell.

     

    ---BCRX CONTENT CREATOR, Klarrisa Arafa

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