Okay, I got so many questions and emails about the strength training (and running, but that’s another show post). I am just going to address them all here in a haphazard manner. I’ll have a regular post later.
First off – NROLW or New Rules of Lifting for Women. That topic occupied quite a bit of 2009, since it took me about 6 months to finish the program. I *loved* doing it. With a capital “L”. You can read the recap here.
Did you (or are you) following the exact plan for NROL4W? Have you noticed a difference?
Also, how do you know how hard to push yourself?
I followed the workouts to a T. And I did the optional stage to prepare for chin ups. I did not follow the food section of NROLW. As far as how far to push myself, that has taken some trial and error. Keep in mind that I have been strength training for a few years now, so doing NROLW was the next logical step as it got me into the heavier lifting, and since I joined a gym I was able to use equipment that I just didn’t have at home (squat cage). I pretty much know how far to push and what I will feel like the next day based on what I do. I never go to complete failure on reps (on purpose anyway) – not quite sure I agree with pushing to failure anyway. With each workout, I just try to do a little more. Your body will tell you when it is too much. It’s better to go slower and gradually add weights than to do too much and risk injury. With that said, don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. Trust me, you are stronger than you think.
How did you get over the fear of being in the ‘guy’s section’?
Well, it was a wee bit intimidating at first, but for the most part, guys are there to work out and will leave you alone. At least if you are at the gym when the serious people are there. I still do not like lifting when the preeners are there and flexing. 🙄 Sometimes I get watched, particularly when I am doing my chin ups, but unless they are overtly staring, it’s no big deal. If you belong to a gym, you have every right to pick up those dumbbells – everyone pays for the same membership!
How/when did you start lifting weights?
I actually have lifted weights off and on for probably 5 or 6 years. We bought a bowflex (why do I always type blowflex??) to work out with at home and I liked how strong I was getting with it. But, it was somewhat limiting. I got some dumbbells with The Firm Workouts in 2008, and then I read Brad Schoenfeld’s books. That was my first foray into real lifting and free weight workouts. Once I finished the 28-Day Shapeover book, I was working out with my own designed workouts, which were 4 days of week of split workouts. While I was doing research online for new moves, I came across New Rules of Lifting in early 2009. Since I joined the YMCA to have access to a pool to train for my triathlon, that meant I had access to other cool equipment like a cable machine and the squat cage and a barbell! I was stoked and the rest was history. I didn’t realize how much stronger I could get – it was pretty cool. I have some good arms now, they look normal in my day to day stuff, but I can flex pretty good. I think I actually scared my mom when I flexed for her 😀
Did you have a personal trainer or did you read a book or what?
No trainer. I just read a *lot* about form and watch a lot of videos online. Not that there aren’t bad examples of form out there, but if you read and watch – it is surprising how much you can understand for yourself. I would have loved (or still would love) a trainer, but I just cannot afford it. I am lucky that I am able to push myself on my own.
Did you gain weight when you started lifting weights?
Yep. I did. At first I gained and then the scale just stayed the same for a long time. What that was would be more water than actual weight. It is very, very hard to actually put on muscle, especially when you are in a calorie deficit. When you lift weights, you are actually making microtears in the muscle fibers, which makes them hold on to water while your body repairs. So – a lot of initial weight gain is water, which you don’t lose for a long time if you are consistently training. However, take measurements because you will shrink as the muscles get stronger and you lose fat.
So, there was some rambling about strength training. I am not strength training to get ‘cut’ or anything like that (with loose skin, that is pretty unlikely that I would ever see a complete 6 pack). I just want to be strong and self reliant. I know I am going to age strong and fit. I love feeling strong and powerful – it makes me confident. Yes, there is some loose skin and I have wrinkles where there weren’t any before, but underneath that is something special. It’s kind of my secret.