Starting weight training

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Joined: Jan 13
Posts: 15

Posted: 08 Nov 2017, 15:16
Looking for some advice for a complete newbie to start weight training. I have a weight bench, free weights, and dumbbells from 5lbs - 35lbs. My husband has weight training experience and mapped out some exercises for me... and I did his arm rotation last night... but I'm just not sure it's right for me. I did 3 sets of 10 of the following exercises with a 10lb dumbbell:

Hammer Curls
Concentration Curls
Tricep Kickbacks
Tricep Extensions

By the end of the third set I could just barely get the tenth rep in. However, I'm just not sure that this is a good starter set.

Tonight is legs and I'm doing 3 sets of 10 the following exercises:

Leg Extensions with 45lbs
Hamstring curls with 45lbs
Single calf raises with a 15lb dumbell in my hand
Lunges (no weights yet, working on balance and form)
Squats (no weights yet, working on balance and form)

Looking for any advice.


Joined: Oct 17
Posts: 8

Posted: 09 Nov 2017, 00:02
if you are a complete newbie then i suggest low weights at first, to get your muscles in shape, something like a wake up call. no need to go for 10 lbs if you can barely complete your sets, go lower until your muscles have "woken" up as i like to call it, to avoid a potential injury or unnecessary strain.

if your husband has weight training experience just tell him that it doesnt feel right with 10 lbs yet. You can also tell him to give you an easier program for starters, people with experience often think that all people are on par.

i recently started weight training as well, at home with 10 lbs in and i can challenge myself with them, even though i am not a complete newbie. plus my wake up period consisted of a lot of days of push ups, i didnt jump right in to get dumbbells.

seriously though, your husband probably has more experience than me, so it would be better to talk to him so he can tailor a program more suitable for you.

i wish you all the luck with and endorse your decision to start weight training, its such a great exercise to keep anyone in shape. its not all about bodybuilding, weight training can be used just for toning, and boosting metabolism.

Joined: Aug 17
Posts: 4

Posted: 04 Dec 2017, 09:39
very long time. I did a lot of reading and reviewing Youtube content so I could learn about good form (which seems to be key for weight training). I'm thinking at some point I'll get a personal trainer because I want to work the weights but I don't want to do it wrong and hurt myself. Great job and good luck on your journey

Joined: Mar 17
Posts: 188

Posted: 04 Dec 2017, 16:48
I agree with Lefter .. train, don't strain. Here are a couple of common sense things that have helped me quite a bit.

OMG .. I started to write this and it just got too long! I'm sorry! It's well intended in any event.

Think about the "physics" of what you are doing .. contracting a muscle group against resistance (your body weight or elastic bands or dumbells), and when A contracts, the opposing B has to relax and stretch. So working both A and B to stay balanced (as you are doing with bicept/tricep hamstring/quads), and also STRETCHING is really important to allow B to relax/stretch. Flexibility and strength training are equal partners in this!.

The range of motion should be appropriate and safe .. avoid hyper-flexing or hyper-extending joints .. loading joints at angles and in postures that they just were not designed for.

While you are working the A/B thing, a whole bunch of other muscles contract isometrically to stabilize, protect, and balance. A common cause of injury is when the stablizing muscles are not strong enough. So if you do your tricep kickbacks leaning over .. your core has to stablize your back or you risk injuring yourself. Monitor "while I am doing this, what other muscles need to be strong to maintain good form?

I'll mention one more thing and then shut up! Remember that your body reacts and adapts very SPECIFICALLY to the stresses you place on it. That has a lot of implications .. one having to do with muscle size/mass versus endurance and "tone" .. and another has to do with "mixing things up" and making sure you work ALL of your major muscle groups. I'd recommend adding exercises for your shoulders, back, chest, and core. Some people like to work the A's one day, and the B's some other day .. so rather than doing all legs one day, you might to do "pushing" (chest, quads, tricep, some shoulder muscles) some days, and "pulling" (back, hamstrings, bicep, other shoulder muscles) other days. Core and stretching (particularly the muscles groups you were working) .. with some days of "special focus" on that.

This is only stuff that works for me .. gather information from a variety of sources and incorporate what works best for YOU ... and hildawg is right on target .. doing stuff "wrong" is risky. I see people doing stuff wrong at the gym all the time .. some "wrong" things are just plain ineffective .. but others are dangerous (in my humble opinion) .. but if you think about what you are doing and why you are doing it and how to do it safely.. that's like 90% of the battle.


Joined: Jan 13
Posts: 15

Posted: 05 Dec 2017, 10:58
Thanks to you all for you responses. (RHills I LOVE information and advice... the more the better... thank you for such a long and thoughtful response!) I worked on weight training for about a month and felt that I was doing more harm than good. I had debilitating muscle pain that started in the day or so after each workout and lasted for weeks. I waited the appropriate rest period (2 days) and tried to work through the pain on the third day (as I was told that was what I needed to do to in order to lessen the pain) it just got worse. That led me to believe that I was doing something wrong and I decided that I needed to consult with a training. Unfortunately that led to even more frustration.

I am categorized as morbidly obese, and my routine will need to be crafted with that in mind... and I felt that none of the three trainers I met with had any experience working with a morbidly obese person and intended to start me with a cookie cutter plan designed for someone in far better shape than I. In fact one of the trainers told me that the weights I started with were too low, implied that my muscle pain was all in my mind, and hinted that I just wanted to make excuses to stay fat. *sigh*

So I've tabled free weights for awhile. I'm doing some body weight routines that I found online (Nerd Fitness and Shape Magazine) to build my strength and continue to lose weight. I hopeful that after the New Year when my work schedule slows down I'll be in better shape and more capable of either taking another shot at free weights or feel less self-conscious about joining a gym.

Joined: Oct 17
Posts: 8

Posted: 05 Dec 2017, 12:05
your post made me feel quite sad, and i can feel your frustration, even talking to trainers didnt help you find a good routine, and you had to quit. but quitting is not the best option out there.

think about what you can do to improve your weight training experience so you are drawn to it and eventually come to like it. as i see it, a 5-6lb dumbbell would work a lot better for you. the other thing, avoid injury at all costs. if you feel you are contracting the wrong muscles after a number of reps, stop the exsercise, thats the point where you exhausted the muscle so you are not doing anything good, you are just injuring yourself. also, try to make it routine, assign each day to a muscle group. my routine is as followes:

monday: biceps, chest
tuesday: abs(you can use this as rest day)
wednesday: triceps, back
thursday: abs(you can use this as rest day)
friday: shoulders, legs
saturday: abs(you can use this as rest day)
sunday: rest day

there are a lot of sites on the internet where you can look for dumbbell exercises, just avoid any exercise that requires bending as those can be really risky if done wrong. i'm looking at you back exercises.

so thats my advise to you, i hope you try again and make weight training something you enjoy doing, as i've started feeling great once i made them a part of my life. just keep it simple, start easy and work your way upwards, and make it routine. and since my post is long enough, i can offer you some exercises if you want to, just ask when you feel like it.

Joined: Mar 17
Posts: 188

Posted: 06 Dec 2017, 01:13
I'm also quite sad and disappointed in your trainers .. but, I think you are right. Most of them deal with the "general public" and have not had the experience/training (or medical knowledge) required for populations with very special needs or physical limitations. And neither do I, so it would be good if you could contact/work with a professional .. maybe someone trained as a physical therapist rather than your typical gym rat.

There are basically 3 variables that we can play with in any kind of physical training: Frequency (how often you do it), Intensity (how much energy/calories you use doing it once or per unit of time), and Duration (how many times you do it, or how long you do it for). Maybe you should forget about intensity (use no weights, or just 1 or 2 lb dumbbells), and just work with frequency and duration until you can comfortably, and gradually, increase the intensity.

Another thought. The types of exercises we typically do with weights are called "isolation" exercises ... focussing on a specific joint/muscle group. There are other exercises, sometimes called "functional strength training", that use a number of muscles at the same time, are often performed without weights at all, and more or less mimic some of the things that we do in everyday life. They have become quite popular in my gym .. and, if you think about what I said earlier about "specificity", the basic idea is that they help you to develop the endurance, strength and balance to do "everyday things" better, as opposed to getting better doing bicep curls or whatever.

So, for example, if when you climb a flight of stairs, you get a little out of breath and also notice "hey .. I feel that in my legs!" .. then maybe just climb an extra flight of stairs after you've rested. Or find platform that you can step up and down from several times (if you do that, make sure that you alternate your lead leg .. the one that steps up first .. because it does most of the work). Or if you are putting something on a shelf and notice "hey .. I feel that in my back, shoulders and arms" .. then maybe use a light dumbbell and mimic putting something on a shelf. Or toss a basketball up in the air several times or rebounding it off of a wall .. maybe adding putting it down and the ground, picking it up, and doing it again.

I'm also a big fan of elastic bands and there are lots of simple exercises you can do with them .. just while you are sitting around watching TV or whatever.

But the main thing is, if it hurts, stop! That's your body telling you that something is wrong. Typically if you experience some muscle soreness after exercise (very common), it only lasts for a day or two. Pain that lasts for weeks suggests an injury of some kind, or maybe some reason that it takes a long time for your muscles to rebuild and recover after exercising with weights.

I wish you all the best!


Joined: Jan 13
Posts: 15

Posted: 06 Dec 2017, 05:19
Thanks again for the replies. lefterisphasarias - I'm not quitting, I'm just choosing to use my own weight (which is considerable) rather than free weights right now. I'm also focusing on doing exercises that work muscle groups rather than single muscle isolation. I will get back to the free weights, but I think I need to focus on making my whole body stronger first so that I'll be capable of maintaining form and stability. RHills, what you've described sounds a lot like what I'm currently doing with the body weight exercises... functional motions that use multiple muscle groups. While I do still experience the sore muscles with the body weight exercises (until I get used to them) it's soreness that lasts for a few days rather than weeks... feel more like a well worked muscle and less like an injury.
jim halliday

Joined: Nov 17
Posts: 1

Posted: 09 Dec 2017, 09:39
A quick hint for any one starting to use free weights for the first time.
Use very low weights and increase the number of reps. It is okay to do single sets of say 40-50 but the key is to ensure that you feel some muscle burn for the last few reps. This is a signal that you have exhausted the muscle.
Focus on large muscles and compound exercises which work at least two major muscles. If you do chest presses for example, you will work the pectoralis major& minor as well as the anterior deltoid and triceps. If you do deadlifts you will be working virtually every muscle in your body. Bent over rows work trapezius, lats,posterior deltoid and biceps etc etc. Do every rep slowly with full range of motion to get the best result for the muscle and include stretching.
I have been using weights for over 50 years even now with two bionic knees. I am still learning but know that a consistent free weight program will produce good results if you keep is simple.

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