Lifting for Beginners
Hey all! A few of you have asked me for beginner lifting workouts you can do at the gym. I'm not a personal trainer but will share with you some of the exercises that I like to do to tone my arms and legs. I've played soccer my whole life so I tend to be a little bit bigger in the legs than I do in the arms and I have always found it difficult to slim down my legs. So first, lets start with exercises that work the lower body.
5 Exercises for Lower Body:
1. Bulgarian Split Squat: This means you are in the form of a normal lunge but your back foot is on the bench rather than the ground. I like to do this with a bar on my shoulders but you can also just use dumbbells and hold those. Make sure your front knee doesn't pass your toes and do this on each leg!
2. Weighted Sumo Squats: A sumo squat is basically a regular squat with a wider stance. It works the inner thighs, but try to point your toes outward! I prefer to do this while holding a weight at my chest. Make sure to always put the weight on your heels and not your toes as you squat!
3. Dead Lifts: This exercise works your hamstrings up into your glutes. There are a few different ways to do dead lifts and if you've never done them before than I urge you to look up a video on the correct form. You can really hurt your back with these if you do them wrong. I prefer straight leg dead lifts with a bar. This exercise leaves me sore for days...I guess that means I should be doing them more!
4. One Legged Leg Press: I think its safe to say that this is my favorite exercise, I tend to see the most results when I'm continuously doing this. I use the machine for this - I'll set the weight to about 40 lbs and do a leg press on each leg. After each set, I increase the weight.
5. Regular Weighted Squats: This exercise is very basic and easy to understand if you've never lifted before. It is probably easiest to use the bar for this but if the rack is too heavy for you than the lighter bars that most gyms have will work just as well. It is VERY important to have good form while squatting because you can really hurt your back. Make sure to always have your weight in your heels and never allow your knees to go past your toes. If your knees are shaky then just begin with a lighter weight, or no weight at all and work your way up.
These exercises can be extremely beneficial when done right. I highly recommend you look up the videos on youtube to anything you may not understand, or feel free to reach out to me! It is important with all of them to watch your knees and protect your lower back. If you feel like you may hurt yourself, then move to a lighter weight or no weight at all. If you want a little bit more of a challenge, add in body weight exercises in between each of these exercises such as: jump squats, burpees, jump lunges, jump and jacks etc. You will really feel the burn and build muscle tone if you do that.
Okay so now for upper body. I LOVE doing upper body. I think it's because I've always been so focussed on my legs and never really understood how to workout my upper body, so now that I do I enjoy it more than legs. About 4 years ago I had absolutely no idea how to correctly workout my upper body. I could barely do a push up or a bicep curl. I began to learn throughout college and by watching youtube videos. I now don't know what I would do without it! Below are some weighted upper body exercises I have done to get my arms and back more toned.
5 Exercises for Upper Body:
1. Bicep Curls and Hammer Curls: These exercises are very similar and extremely basic. If you've lifted at all, chances are you've done these. I usually like to do a set of bicep curls and then immediately after do a shorter set of hammer curls, then break. With a traditional bicep curl your palms face the ceiling and with a hammer curl, your palms face inward.
2. Shoulder Raises: There are a variety of different ways to work your shoulders. I usually use a very light weight, five pounds, and lift my arms straight out to the side (like a T), then a little bit at an angle in front, and then completely straight in front. So this exercise incorporates three shoulder raises in one round. I try to do this 10 times in each set, but that can be very difficult.
3. Seated Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension: My favorite machine at the gym is tricep push down with the ropes. However, if you don't know what that is or don't have access to it you can work your triceps with a dumbbell. All you do is sit on a bench and lift your arms above your head with the dumbbell in your hands an extend that straight up and then back down behind your head, bending at your elbows. Make sure to keep your elbows close to your ears on this one!
4. Seated Row: There is a machine for this but if you don't have the machine then you can do a standing seated row that works the same muscles. Make sure to have a slight bend in your knees, leans over a little bit, keep your chest up. With a dumbbell in each hand, slowly row back focusing on the muscles in your back.
5. Bench Press: If you haven't already done this than you should begin to do it if you are trying to get into weight lifting. This works the chest and can be done with a bar or dumbbells. I prefer to use a bar.
All of these exercises can be done in various other ways. If you have a way you prefer than definitely continue to use that. This is to provide a little bit of a reference for people just getting into free weights. I remember when I first started, I was so intimidated to step into the weight room at my gym. I had absolutely NO idea what I was doing. If you find yourself feeling that same way than know you are not alone.
Another thing to note when doing these exercises is the amount of weight you use. If you are looking to build muscle then gradually increase your weight each set and each time you do this. If you are looking to slim down some muscle then I would recommend doing lighter weight and higher reps, and definitely incorporate those aerobic exercises I mentioned as well.
If you have any questions about form or what something is then please reach out! When I was learning how to lift I looked everything up on Google and Youtube., but I also had my Mom who was a personal trainer and taught me almost everything. So please don't hesitate to reach out!