Wednesday, November 2, 2011

New 52 | Week 44: Weight Training Regimen

While this is not something completely new in my life, it is a reNEWed commitment.  Strength training.

Looking back at the two times in my life (1997 and 2004) when I was able to lose 10-15 lbs and get in really good shape, the common denominator both times was weight training.  In May 1997 I was talking to Todd's dad (who is a physician) about my sore upper back from working at a desk job, he suggested that I go to my work gym and do some shoulder and upper body nautilus weight training.  Before that, I did not exercise regularly at all, cardio or strength-wise.  So I started going to my work gym and got an orientation on the weight machines.  At first it was hard because I could hardly lift any weights.  Then it got a little easier and I would gradually increase the weight on the machines.  And since I was already going to the gym, I started walking on the treadmill.  Then I started walking fast.  Then eventually I started jogging on the treadmill. 

It was the start of something beautiful and healthy in my life.  Because I was making all the effort physically to exercise, I also started eating less and being more conscious of how much I was putting in my body.  My intention when I started was just to feel better and not have hurt shoulders and back.  Imagine my surprise when two months later, I had lost 10 lbs and got my high school body back!  And I became a runner!

Fast forward to 2004.  I was close to my max weight again.  I decided to vary up my routine and add weights in again.  I was swimming, going to yoga, going to jazz dance, going to cardio exercise class, running, and weight training.  I lost all the extra weight again.  AND I ran my fastest 5K (3.1 miles) ever.  But somehow all the lessons learned from strength training and varying my exercise routine got lost, for years.  Over the last few years, I noticed that when I sign up for long-distance races like a half marathon and I train for them, I tend to just run and forgot about all the other exercises and strength training.  I get over-use injuries in my legs and feet, and I actually GAIN weight while doing all that running!  I can honestly say that I have never lost weight just running.  It may work for some people but it doesn't work for me.

I'm at my max weight again.  So four weeks ago, I incorporated weight training into my routine again.  This has been my routine in the morning before work for four weeks now, and I've been able to stick to it.

Monday | Yoga or 30 Day Shred exercise video
Tuesday | Run 2 miles
Wednesday | Weight training
Thursday | Run 2 miles
Friday | rest
Saturday | Run 3-4 miles
Sunday | Weight training

So what exactly do I do for strength training at home, you ask?  I use free weights (see pic above).  A long time ago, I developed a weight routine based on what I learned in "Shaping Up with Weights for Dummies".  It's simple and works all the major muscle groups.  You start out with smaller weights and work your way to heavier weights.  So I do these 12 exercises and it takes me about 40 minutes.
  1. Pushups (right now I can do about 20 pushups on my knees)
  2. Crunches (25-30)
  3. Oblique Crunches (25-30)
  4. Squats (30 - no weights yet at this time, but I'll incorporate them soon)
  5. Lunges (20 on each side - no weights yet)
  6. Plie squats (20 - no weights yet)
  7. One Arm Row using 10 lb weights (16 each side)
  8. Triceps extension using 7 lb weights (12 reps both sides simultaneously, then 10 reps individually per side)
  9. Overhead Press using 10 lb weights (10 reps x 2 with a break in between)
  10. Biceps curls using 10 lb weights (10 reps x 2 with a break in between)
  11. Arm Raises using 7 lb weights (12 raises to the front and 12 to the side)
  12. Chest Fly using 7 lb weights (8 reps x 2)
As I progress, I'll either add more reps or switch to more weight.  So far, I haven't lost any weight, I've actually gained weight.  But it's okay because I've been through this before and it always happens when I first start weight training again.  I'm gaining muscles but haven't lost my fat yet!  I feel better and I'm sleeping better.  Hopefully I'll have some fat-loss to report in a few more weeks. 

A lot of women are put off by weight training because they feel intimidated, or they think they'll build huge unsightly muscles.  Unless you are taking testosterone or steroids, you won't be building huge muscles.  Just toned and defined muscles that burn more fat!  Here is a great article at Runner's World on why strength training is important for weight loss.  I think a lot of women only do cardio because it burns more calories than strength training.  But building up your muscle mass and bone density is especially important for women as we age, and more muscles means you are burning more calories even at rest.  I myself have periods of time when I'd forgotten the value of strength training.  But I'm back on the wagon and I hope to see similar results as the past two times in my life when I felt strong and lean!  :)

About This Project

New52 is a project started by Peppermint and I to encourage each other and others around us to try something new every week in 2011. The "new" each week doesn't have to be something big. It could be something as simple as ordering a new dish instead of old standbys at your favorite restaurant. It's simply opening your heart up to NEW possibilities.
Don't worry if you're late getting started on joining in. It's totally OK if you miss a week here or there. We encourage everyone to keep an open mind about trying something new. This is a life project, and a photography/blog and even scrap challenge if you wish. If you participate this week, please leave a link to your blog post in the comments of this post. 


  1. I like your schedule. It looks balanced and reasonable. And it looks like you've come to the same conclusion I have -- it's best to work out six days a week.

    You might want to check out Bob Harper's Pure Burn Super Strength DVD. I think it is a good strength workout.

    If you ever have the chance, I would also check out CrossFit. It is a fun and challenging workout. It's my favorite workout thing I've ever tried.

  2. Thanks for the suggestions Mimi, I'll definitely check them out!

  3. OK, so I was gonna send you an email asking what I'm supposed to do with these free weights I just bought.

    You've answered all my questions.

    If you could send me a little bit of that will power you have, that would be great!

  4. I'm going to pin this to refer back to. I KNOW I need to add it in, it's just so hard to get up those days off to do it! Thanks for the info and the push! :)

  5. Glad to help and encourage anyone who wants to start strength training! :)

  6. We're starting a strength workout that Neal found on life hacker. Sort of a "real life" workout. Essentially you do squats, crunches, pushups and some free weights. Oh, and cardio too, which I'm already doing with race training. I'm also adding planks because my core just ain't what she used to be...

  7. Now that I'm a year smoke free I'm looking at changing my diet and exercise. I need to lose weight but I also need to improve my overall wellness. My lab results have not been kind the past few years. I'm kind of freaking out about the whole thing. Thanks for sharing what you do.


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