Friday, December 22, 2006


Yesterday, I mentioned the weight training class one of the fitness instructors taught and who urged me to try her class. Classes are held M-W-F noons and W-F evenings. I thought hard about it, as far as when I could go, and finally decided this morning I would go at lunch time today. So I skipped the morning workout and just came to work early to have time to get away for this class. So guess what? She doesn't show. There were 3 other women and a guy who showed up, so it still gave me a chance to observe them and question the usual routines. What I saw convinced me that I could do this on my own, at my convenience, preferably in the mornings, and still accomplish what I hope to achieve--as long as I am consistent.

Here's what I observed: The only person using any weight over 5 pounds was the man, who was using 10 and seemed to be struggling at that. This guy is a big man, so 10 pounds seemed a little puny to me for someone that size. And he seems to be in decent enough shape otherwise. The women tended to go with quite light weights, and I can accept this, realizing their limitations and the fact that they aren't trying to bulk up, just gain strength. But again, some of the exercises they did seemed too tame for me. So I did my own time-tested routine, only at a much reduced level right now.

This routine I developed about 4 years ago from a book I read, and for the life of me I can't remember the name of it or the author. The only part I really remember is the routine I developed and some of the rationale behind it. In order to build strength, you need to lift as much weight as you can manage for three sets, starting out with legs, which are the biggest muscles. So I do leg presses, right now at 120 pounds. Three sets of 20 reps. Then I go to the chest, back, and arms. Three sets of 10 reps. And I'm done--with the weights. Then you go to cardio, 12-15 min. at a high intensity, whether running, biking, elliptical, or whatever, the idea being to work the heart muscle, and the idea again being to use higher intensity like you do with the weights--do as hard as you can but only for 12-15 min. There's no set standard on weight or speed, its as much as you can do. That means, for most people, that initially you will not, and should not, try to lift so much weight that you are staggered by it. In fact, it really is recommended that you spend 2-3 months adapting to any weight lifting to protect your joints, before you attempt to go with heavier weights. Eventually, with consistency, everything improves--how much weight you can lift and how fast you can run (if you use this for your cardio).

Since I have been doing some weights for the past 2 months, I decided it was time to up the weight, but so far am only at a conservative 8 pounds max for anything with free weights, and a varied weight on the machines, and 120 for leg presses, the ideal to be able to lift your own weight--with your legs that is. 120 is pushing it for me, but I have gone up from 80 to 100 and now 120, so I'm not just jumping up to 120. When it gets easy, I will go up more. Same with the arms. When I get on the treadmill, I start at my usual 11 min. miles and after a min. go under 11, then after 5 go to 10:30, and at 10 min. I go to 10 min. miles. I can't run more than a few minutes at this pace right now, so it is a good place for me to max out. I am hoping after a few months I will be able to do this whole thing in the 9s like before.

What it has done for me in the past, when I consistently did this 2-3 times a week, was helped me build body strength and gain running speed, to a pace I could hold for at least a 5k. And that's all I really care to do right now. It served two purposes: (1) weight training and (2) a speed workout so to speak. And it is easy enough so I can do it at least twice a week but am not too tired to do other things too.

I have another routine I got from Runners World many years ago, but that is more for building endurance for longer runs or races, and is much harder and more involved to do. If I ever get back to being able to do that, I will know I'm ready to tackle an IM race.


Anonymous said...

Great routine. I especially like the cardio after the strength training.

Have a Merry Christmas!

Stay tuned...

sharon said...

What do you do for ab/core work? Anything using a ball? I'm trying to find a good 10 min routine to get 6 pack abs! ha LOL. You probably get all that core work done in your pilates/yoga classes.

Anonymous said...

Have a happy holiday season. Bring on 2007!

Fe-lady said...

Weights rule~stick with them! They definitely are something every woman our (cough) age should be doing! Up that poundage when you can!