fitness · weight lifting

So, anybody heard about this weight training thing?

Hey everyone– I just had this really great new exercise experience and wanted to share it with y’all.  It’s called weight training.  You do it either with machines like this:

A woman doing leg presses on a leg press machine.
A woman doing leg presses on a leg press machine.

Or you can do it with weights that you hold in your hands:

A woman lifting dumbbells, with another woman helping her with form.
A woman lifting dumbbells, with another woman helping her with form.

Or you can use big weights that are on a bar. And you can use your own body weight, as I have learned.

A woman doing core strength exercises.
A woman doing core strength exercises.

So I thought it imperative to share all this new information with you ASAP. 

Of course I’m kidding. Well, not completely. Here’s the real story: 

This week in physical therapy my therapist got me started on strength training to help me be more stable, given that I have had multiple sprains and some fractures in both ankles. We’re working on hips and glutes, among other muscles. It’s hard work, but I’m finding that I like it.

This is the real news:  I am really loving weight training. I always thought I hated it. In the past, I’ve gone to gyms, gotten rudimentary info about using machines, worked on them half-heartedly, and then abandoned them in favor of cardio workouts and stretching. I never made the effort to get proper instruction, and I never really experienced what it’s like to do these workouts over time. But now, recognizing the importance, nay imperative nature of this kind of workout to my future self, and experiencing how interesting and cool it feels to my current self to work my body in these ways, I am pretty stoked.  Sam predicted this, and you’re right!

Now, I just need three more things, and I will be all set. 

Thing one: a gym.  I’ve got to go shopping for a gym, as I’m in between memberships. I’ve been a member at an all-women’s gym, which I enjoyed, but it was expensive and had no pool.  And the chain gym I tried, I didn’t love. But of course that was before I discovered weight training. So that is a task before me.

Thing two: a personal trainer.  I’ve tried reading books and even cutting out pages from magazines or printing out web pages with workouts, but I’ve never managed to translate the print into an actual workout over time for me.  I would like an actual person to help me get started on figuring out where I want to start, how to start, and what to do once I’ve started.

Thing three:  some aspirational goals and realistic plans for them. I don’t know how much time I want to or can or spend on this, as it’s all new.  Of course the trainer can help me. 

All of this (except maybe picking out a gym– I can do that) seems pretty overwhelming.  I’m not sure how to start.  Except I guess I already have. 

I’ll be posting some in the upcoming weeks/months, asking advice about personal trainers, gyms, workouts, etc.  And I’ll let you know how things are going.  But for now, I just wanted to say that I’ve found my way to the weight room, and I’m ready to… uh…pump some iron?  Do people still say that?

Help on weight training slang would also be most appreciated. 

12 thoughts on “So, anybody heard about this weight training thing?

  1. As you think about choosing a gym and personal trainer, keep in mind that gyms have varying policies about who comes in the door. Some will not permit an outside trainer to be on the floor with you, for example.

  2. My two cents. Track what you’re doing and how much you’re lifting both because progress is fast and fun and you want to be able to work out on your own when you travel. The best gym is the one you actually go to. I use the campus gym because it’s easy and convenient. There are better places to work out I’m sure but convenience trumps all. Find a personal trainer at the gym you’re going to so they can set you up to go on your own with the same equipment.

  3. If you can’t find a gym you like and you have the space in your home, you can even set up a small weight-training center with a bench and some free weights. I have a bench that allows me to tilt the back and also comes with a barbell rack that can be moved up and down, a leg extension/preacher curl thingie, and a removable tower for things like lat pulldowns. Since you’re just starting out, you might want to get a standard weight set: the bar is lighter than an Olympic one (a 6-foot standard bar is about 15 lbs as opposed to 28 or even 45 for the Olympic ones). You don’t need anything particularly big or fancy to be able to work all your muscle groups, just a barbell, some dumbbells, and a set of weight plates that you can attach to those. I can give you more detailed info about the exact equipment I have if you want.

    I echo what Sam B said about keeping records. Especially when you’re just starting and figuring out how much you can do for each lift, it’s helpful to have that written record, and then you can use it to track your progress once you have a baseline set up.

    A book I found particularly useful is “The Idiot’s Guide to Weight Training.” It’s short on text descriptions and long on photos of good form for each stage of the lifts.

  4. Awesome! I’ve been pumping iron (old)/ lifting (current) for 33 years. I cycle through various workouts using machines, free weights, body weight etc. As Sam said, it’s important that the gym you choose is convenient to get to. I go to a Goodlife that’s a 5 min walk from my house. Any gym will have their own personal trainers who will tailor workouts (and meal plans) for you, depending on what outcomes you’re looking for. Hope you have fun!

    1. Also there are LOTS of apps and videos of how to use machines or lift free weights and what muscle groups each exercise targets, and ways to track how much and how often you lift.

  5. Here’s some slang for you! I think you’re supposed to say ass to grass when you squat, i.e. being able to to get your bottom as close to the floor as possible.

  6. My slang contribution is to try to ‘break the bar’ during pull ups. Thinking about pushing down into the pinkie fingers helps engage the shoulder and back muscles needed. Also learning the difference between chin up (palms toward face) and pull up (palms away from face).

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