More Effective Weight-Training

Posted: May 20, 2010 at 6:00 am

Thanks for the support on my good news! And all the sweet comments on what we can learn from children. If you haven't checked it out yet, I hope you do. Children sure do wear their hearts on their sleeve.

Remember my Power class from Tuesday that felt tougher than usual? Well, I was feeling the remnants of it yesterday. So after warming up my muscles in spin and doing a good stretch with the foam roller, I took 15 minute to relax and get a “massage” using my gym’s hydro-massage bed.

hydro-massage-small [Source]

I don’t know if it does much, but it does feel good. And my use of this equipment has absolutely nothing to do with getting an extra 15 minutes of childcare time for me to lay back and read a book. Nothing I tell you. Nothing! *cough cough* I hope that doesn’t make me a bad mom. But in my eyes a relaxed mommy is a happy mommy and a happy mommy is a good mommy.

Where am I going with all of this? Well, during the “massage” I thought about my slightly sore muscles and considered something our instructor was saying at the beginning of class while I was half-listening and setting up my area. She told us that she chose tracks that would challenge us and give us an effective workout. I agree with that. There were quite a few things I know bring an effective weight workout included in the class. I have explained some of my favorite ways to get an increased challenge during a lifting session below. These may apply to weight classes or your own weight training. Include some of these and feel the difference. I promise if done right, you will notice a challenge.

  • Take it slow. Doing movements in a slow and controlled fashion helps to decrease the amount of momentum used. Less momentum helping you along = more of your true effort doing the work. A good pace is two counts, small pause, two counts. For example, during a barbell bicep curl take two counts to curl the bar up, hold a moment, and then take two counts to release the bar back down. You can mix it up though and do a variety of eccentric and concentric contractions. You can take 4 counts each, or 3 up and 1 down, etc. Taking things slow also helps you to focus more on the move instead of just quickly going through the motions.
  • Use proper form. Proper form ensures that you are using the correct muscles to complete the exercise. You don’t want to be trying to work your glutes and hamstrings with a deadlift and end up working your shoulders from bad form.


[Source 1, Source 2]

You will likely feel the move more by not allowing other body parts to assist due to not doing the move correctly. Proper form also decreases any possible pain or the chance for injury, so you are able to continue improving your lifts.

  • Emphasize the use of free weights. Machines do have their place in weight training, namely in adding variety or helping to learn weight training moves, but the use of barbells and dumbbells are more effective.

dumbbellrack [Source]

When you don’t have a machine assisting you, your body has to work harder to stabilize itself and will naturally use more energy to do the same type of move. You also have a wider range of movement with free weights so it is common to feel more comfortable using them. Another benefit is you can challenge muscles one arm/leg at a time with dumbbells to help balance weaknesses.

  • Include variety. Try to do something new at least every few workouts. That doesn’t mean you have to do new moves every lifting session, but try to switch up how many reps or sets you complete, do a slight variation of a move (like on an incline or decline/with a barbell instead of dumbbell/etc), or even in a different order. Lifting classes usually do many of the same moves to accommodate the equipment available for classes, but they still have variety from a different setup every class. Doing things differently will keep your body from becoming too accustomed to your workout. It helps to continue challenging yourself.
  • Play with bodyweight exercises. We may think we need some iron in our hands to get a quality weight training workout. That is not true. Things like pushups, pullups, walking lunges, squat holds, and tricep dips can challenge your body in new ways.

push-up-get-toned-body-lose-weight-fast women-chins

[Source 1, Source 2]

Consider the moves I mentioned, Pilates classes, or holding yoga poses. Tough, huh? Bodyweight moves help build up more practical endurance and incorporate new movement into your workout.

  • Compound movements. Things like squats, bench press, deadlifts, and rows use more than one muscle group to complete the move. These moves are more challenging and therefore more effective. In squats, you train your quads, glutes, calves, abs, and even your arms and shoulders with lifting and stabilizing the bar. During rows, you will train the various parts of your back (lats, traps, rhomboids) as well as your biceps from the pulling and even your glutes by working to maintain proper form. It makes sense that using 3 muscles will use more energy and strength than working one. Compound movements can do that for you.

Do you enjoy weight training? What ways do you like to challenge yourself and get an effective workout? Are you surprised by any of these suggestions?


24 Comments to “More Effective Weight-Training”
  1. inmytummy says:

    I like weight training but I feel like I’m one of those women who do not lift as heavy as she could be.

  2. I LOVE weight training. I actually find that I am happier with my body in general when I weight train, as opposed to simply cardio, because I feel stronger. I also love challenging myself in the gym and I can only go so fast on the treadmill, but weights supply infinite possibilities.

  3. Oh, I would definitely think a relaxed/happy mommy is the best kind of mommy! Good for you for that small indulgence. I love to weight train. After doing STS last spring, I learned that variety and change is good and there are a million ways to do pushups (and they hurt). Now if only I had a pull up bar….

  4. Mellissa says:

    I wish I didn’t have to do any cardio and could just lift, it is so much more fun! I love being one of the few women in the weight room and I love having definition in my arms, shoulders and legs.

  5. I don’t enjoy it, but I don’t hate it either!

  6. lisaou11 says:

    That massage thing seems neat. I have never seen somethin that like! Crazy.

    I’m with Melissa, I wish cardio didn’t exist and I could lift all day. I like it so much more.

  7. SHE-FIT says:

    I’m a total cardio girl. It takes a lot out of me to get to the weights section… but I know I need to!

  8. I have recently started to do weight training, and I love it! I think the biggest thing is adding variety, which makes me want to work out more!

  9. cardiopizza says:

    I wrote about weight training today too 🙂 I’m starting to get my groove back!!

    Great Tips!

  10. Heather says:

    is the pope catholic? i LOVE weight training…it makes me feel strong and amazing 🙂 i love how the first thing you emphasized is form. proper form not only makes all the difference in working the correct muscles, it PROTECTS you from injury too! definitely the #1 most important on my list!

  11. Bree says:

    I love weight training and agree with everything you wrote – especially the use of free weights and large, compound movements.

  12. ellie says:

    Love this post- some great tips! I am pretty new to weight training (I joined my gym 10 weeks ago) so am learning as I go. Form is something I try really hard to be aware of!

  13. I really need to start mixing up my workouts! I do almost the SAME things everytime I go to the gym…NOT GOOD! I just have a hard time breaking routine, I guess! I’m a total creature of habit! HELP! Haha.

  14. jsutera654 says:

    GREAT list!! Totally agree with all of your points! I’m a big fan of weight lifting as a component to a well-rounded fitness regime, and it sure does make you feel pretty rockin’ when you do a particular tough set of reps and feel it instantly in your muscles (that was me yesterday during Power, hello biceps track – my “enemy”, ha!)

  15. This is great! I love weight training and just recently (within the last few months) have gotten into it. I try to challenge myself every day but and still learning.

  16. eatmovelove says:

    Well written! I don’t do weights now…I just can’t even think to get into it…I don’t find it enjoyable. Even when I did them years ago after 1 set I’d be outta there 😉 – I suck I know – it’s important…;)

  17. nice post tina!! yes of COURSE you know I love strength training and always try to introduce strength training to my clients who are slaves to the cardio machines! so important for strengthing the tendons and ligaments around your joints! i cannot stress it enough how important it is!!

  18. I LOVE strength training- a new found love, but it’s a great love 🙂
    And, I like your advice on the bicep bar curls- how you count to 2, then hold for a moment, then count to 2 as you go down. Sometimes I go a bit too fat when lifting, which I know really does no good.

  19. I’m actually going to a weight training class this evening, so I’ll be putting this tips to good use!!

  20. homecookedem says:

    LOVE the new site!! Congrats on your own domain!! 🙂

    I am not a fan of strength training and really only do it b/c I know it’s good for me. The only way I can get myself to do it is by doing DVDs that use weights like Jillian Michaels or Jackie Warner or The Firm. This was a great post though and is what I needed to hear to get more excited about it!! 🙂 Thanks!!

  21. […] Check out some of my other tips for more effective weight training […]

  22. Sally says:

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