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Making Huge Gains with Weight Lifting

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Want to Make Huge Gains with Weight Lifting?

For those of you that follow me on my Facebook Page, or are friends with me on Facebook, you know I did a 40 day challenge to get us all ready for our summer bodies. One of my posts sparked a slew of comments and questions and I felt the information was so important that I’d write a blog post about it for everyone else to read. So here it goes:

Part 1

I know some might not like this – just MY opinion – but I noticed I’ve been taking all these gym classes and I do NOT feel sore at all afterward. Even the day I took 3 classes in a row – nothing. I was a little disappointed because I thought I’d at least feel a little sore. Somewhere. I mean, they’re different classes, something new for my body to experience, different routines, new exercises, faster, etc. But, nothing. I did a lot of thinking and one thing these classes all have in common (especially the weight lifting/power sculpt ones) they do too many reps, causing you to choose a much lighter weight than you might use out on the gym floor. You’re moving quickly to the beat of the music, to the instructor that’s flinging that weight around, and you CAN’T lift heavier. You have to choose a lighter weight otherwise you won’t be able to lift it for the 49th time. But that won’t build muscle. That builds endurance.
Someone said to me once: “But I sweat during my workouts. My muscles feel sore while I’m working out. I do multiple reps and sets and my arms/legs are killing me!” Feeling pain AS you’re lifting is not the same as building muscle. Let me explain.

If while you’re lifting weights, your arm starts to hurt, it gives out, it starts to burn — that’s just Lactic Acid building up. Your body has run out of the energy it needs to keep doing whatever it is you’re doing and you have to stop otherwise it sends out the lactic acid to “Burn you” to make you stop. That’s not the same as feeling soreness 24-48 hours later from your muscle being ripped apart, repairing themselves and rebuilding a bigger, stronger one. If you just wave your arm up and down really fast with no weight in your hand, eventually the ATP (energy) runs out, the lactic acid builds up, burns, and you can’t wave your arm around anymore. That’s not going to build muscle. It builds endurance. I was always taught that in order to BUILD muscle: You lift HEAVY. Slow reps. No more than 10 reps (if you can do more than 10-12 – it’s too light).
I normally do 25lb bicep curls, but in that class I was using 12lbs (the largest they had) and my arm quickly died because she made us do almost 30 reps fast. One class, the woman made us do 100 lunges with our right leg on a bosu ball without stopping. It was ridiculous. I really felt like I was going to hurt myself. The weirdest part was the next day – not sore. On Monday, I took 2 classes back to back and in both classes they did multiple shoulder exercises, some while you’re jumping around like a lunatic, I thought for sure something was going to rip as I whipped my arm all over the place. 2 days later – nothing. Not even sore. I initially took the classes mainly for the cardio, but since I have Leia, my puppy, to run with, I don’t need it. I can run with her for a half hour every day.

I also did it for fun, and to change up my routine. I took the Power Sculpt classes thinking I’d build SOME muscle. But, no pain, no gain. I can’t believe I felt nothing. I do a half hour of weightlifting in the weight room and I’m sore for days.
I decided to spend my gym time back to what I did years ago. What WORKED. Strictly lifting weights. Heavy weights. No cardio. Maybe a yoga class once in awhile to just to stretch and relax. I’m not building any muscle with the other classes, though. I can still burn a significant amount of calories lifting heavy weights and at least I’d build muscle while doing it. I don’t need endurance in my triceps! And, the cardio just makes me so damn hungry. When I only lift weights I’m not hungry at all. This week has been a constant struggle to not eat everything in sight.

Part 2

After my post last week about how I wasn’t ‘feeling it” with my gym classes and how I needed to go back to my old, old routine of lifting heavy, I got a lot of questions such as: What do you mean by heavy? How heavy is heavy? I can’t lift heavy – how am I supposed to lift heavy if I can’t lift the weight? How do I get to the next heaviest weight if I can’t lift it?
Let me explain what I meant. Let’s say, just for example, you are doing Bicep curls and you are using a 15lb weight but it’s getting too light: (you’re able to do 12+ reps or you never feel sore after working out your biceps or you’ve been lifting the SAME weight forever). Time to move up to the next weight. You try the 20lb weight but you can only do 5 reps. No problem. That’s okay. That’s normal. Think about it. You just did 5 reps of a heavier weight! Way to go! Here’s a few things you can do to make the 20lbs your “new” weight.

#1. You lift your 15lb weight for one set and then the 2nd set you lift the 20lb weight as many times as you can – 5 reps IS FINE! You do this every time until you can get up to 10 reps. It may take a few tries, a few sessions. Just keep trying. 5 reps one week. 6 the next, then 7, until you can get to 10. Once you do, no more 15lb weight. Stick with the 20lbs from now on. Woo hoo!

#2. You start with the 20lb weight FIRST. Your muscles aren’t fatigued yet and you are stronger. You try to lift as many as you can – maybe you can even do 6! and then you drop back to the 15lbs and do your usual 10+. Every session you start with the heavier weight, do as many as you can and then return to you lower weight to finish off your session.

#3. Drop sets. You start with 20lbs, do as many as you can (let’s say 6 reps), then immediately (no rest) grab the 15lbs and try to get to 10 reps (or as many as you can) then immediately grab a 10lb weight and do as many as you can, then grab a 7lb weight and do the same, then 5lbs. You are starting with the HEAVY weight when you are well rested – pushing yourself as far as you can, then putting less and less weight on it, but your muscles are fatigued so even though you are lifting lighter, your muscles are still fighting to lift when their fatigued. That builds the muscle.

#4. Start with the 15lb weight, do your set, then switch to 20lbs, do as many as you can, then grab a 25lb weight (don’t freak) and try to lift ONE measly rep (or as many as you can). I know a lot of you are saying “There’s no way” but here’s what you can do. Let’s say you can only do 1 rep of the 25lb weight – you can HELP yourself lift it. (Did you ever see a guy helping another guy do their last rep on a chest press? Same thing). Take 2 fingers and gently help your other arm lift the weight up by putting the 2 fingers under your other hand and lightly push up, then let go and SLOWLY let the weight return to the down position. Fight the gravity. (See picture above). I read that the down, negative, (against-gravity) part of the rep, is what really shapes that muscle. NO letting the weight DROP back down lazily. Slowly lower it. If you can barely do the 20lb weight, then stick with the 20lbs (don’t switch to 25lbs) and do this with the 20lb weight until you get up to the 10 full reps. Same deal.

There’s 4 ways you can help yourself get to the next heavier weight. Try one, try them all! Let me know how it works, or which one worked the best for you. You can do this with any body part, any free-weights, any machine.

I love hearing from you!

CHRISTINE ARDIGO – Author of Cheating to SurviveEvery Five Years & The Bridges Before Us

The greatest compliment you can give me is when you share this with others.
I sincerely appreciate it:

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2 Thoughts on “Making Huge Gains with Weight Lifting

  1. Your point about fitness classes not being very effective is spot on. Unfortunately many people consider it a win for just showing up (which is step 1 and awesome no doubt, but it takes more effort like you yourself have seen).

    • Christine on March 20, 2018 at 7:06 pm said:

      Thank you Jon for your comment. SO true on all accounts. I am happy that people show up to classes, the gym, anything, because so many do nothing. And although this is a great way to burn some calories, it wasnt a good way to build muscle. Thank you again!

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