Saturday, February 2, 2013

First Experiences: Group Weight Lifting Class

Strength training. For me, it usually plays second fiddle to cardio. I love cardio- for me, it used to consist primarily of running, but that has tapered down dramatically since dealing with the aftermath of a repetitive stress injury.

I know that strength training is at least as important as cardio, and perhaps even more so. Building and maintaining muscle mass has a plethora of health and fitness benefits. While I've been aware of the many benefits of weight training, it hasn't become a regular part of my workout routine until lately, but I'm already reaping the benefits.

Equipment used:
Step blocks (to lay back on when doing some arm work)
Foam pad (to put on step block and on floor when doing abs segment)
Barbell
Various weighted plates for the barbell. These will be changed out depending on the exercise. I usually get a combination of (4) 2.5 kg plates and (2) 1 kg plates

Warmup (3-5 minutes)
Slow, modified deadlifts with a few barbell rows mixed in.

Lower back/hamstrings
Dead lifts with triple barbell rows thrown in. Good form is important in order to protect your back. Weight should be in the heels, butt sticking out, and back flat. There are a few clean and presses sprinkled in - the only time in class where we get to use some momentum to help us.

Chest
Performed laying on the bench with the risers. Wide grip, with pinky fingers touching the weights. This is probably the most challenging set for me.

Squats
Bar loaded up with the heaviest amount of weight, because we're working the largest muscle groups (hamstrings, quads, glutes). Good form is imperative to protect the knees.

Biceps
Curls with full range of motion (down to the thighs, up to the chest). This one kicks my butt...er, biceps, every time.

Abs
Crunches and more crunches. Up for three, down for one. Up for one, down for three. Up for two, down for two. Twist to work the obliques. Abs are always especially challenging for me.

Shoulders
One of my favorite sets, minus the push-ups in the beginning. Once those are over, it's side lifts one one knee with individual plates. Then we switch to upright rows with the bar, and finish up with standing side lifts.

Lunges
Bar is loaded up and rested on the shoulders. One leg goes back. Lower straight down until each leg is at 90 degrees. Eventually, switch to the other side. Finish up with a few squats, which feel almost restful after all the lunges.

Triceps
Triceps extension - laying on the bench, close grip on the light weighted barbell. Elbows above chest, bent at 90 degrees, then lower barbell down to near forehead. Tricep lifts involve pushing straight up above the rib cage, then back down. Finish up standing with a single plate, dipping it behind the head.

This class is great- it has become a regular part of Saturday morning for me. I have seen a difference in muscular strength and appearance.