Working On My Fitness: Weightlifting Cycle

First thing you should know about me when it comes to exercise – I prefer to tout the party line that exercise is for punks. However, in the last couple of months, I have become one of those people who exercises most days of the week. I know, it’s like I don’t even know me anymore.

For the last couple of years, I have taken ballet at Ballet Austin’s community dance school, and I LOVE it. But I’m not talking about ballet today. My latest thing is weightlifting. My friend, Kristy, has gotten really buff in the past year or so, and I asked her what her secret is. Yes, much of it is diet (for real, 80% of weight loss is diet, only 20% is movement), but she lifts. As a part of my usual gym routine, I was already lifting weights, but low weight, high reps. Her prescribed plan to build muscle requires high weight, low reps. I’ve only made it through two weeks, but I am totally digging it. Here is the general concept:

  • Lift every other day, focusing on a main lift each day — squats, deadlifts, overhead press, and bench press.
  • When you do your main lift, you start at a low weight, doing 5 reps. Then you keep going up in weight until you can only do 3 reps. Then you do two more reps of 3 at that heaviest weight.
  • For each of those lifts there is accessory work to work out the opposite muscle group. For example, you need to build up your hamstrings and your quads together. If you build up one without the other, you can injure yourself.
  • On the off days, you should still try to exercise. You can do a cardio workout; I usually do yoga or ballet on my non-weightlifting days.

And here’s the exact workout I am following:

Proper squat formDAY 1: SQUATS

  • Warm-up with 5 minutes of cardio (I jog on the treadmill)
  • Some dynamic stretching
  • Squats – start at lowest weight, work up to heaviest weight for 3 sets of 3
  • Squats – reduce to 60% of heaviest weight for 5 sets of 10
  • Lunges – 3 sets of 10
  • Hamstring curls (weight machine) – 3 sets of 15-20
  • 4 minutes of cycling, tabata method (alternating 20 seconds full-on intensity, 10 seconds of rest)

Proper form for overhead pressDAY 2: OVERHEAD PRESS

  • Warm-up with 5 minutes of cardio
  • Dynamic stretching
  • Overhead press – start at lowest weight, work up to heaviest weight for 3 sets of 3
  • Superset overhead press with inverted rows (HARD! I have to bend my knees)
  • Seated cable rows (weight machine) – 3 sets of 15-20
  • Half-mile run on treadmill

Proper form for deadliftDAY 3: DEADLIFTS

  • Warm-up with 5 minutes of cardio
  • Dynamic stretching
  • Deadlifts – start at lowest weight, work up to heaviest weight for 3 sets of 3
  • Deadlifts – reduce to 60% of heaviest weight for 5 sets of 10
  • Bulgarian split squats – 2 sets of 10 (each leg)
  • Glute bridges – 3 sets of 10
  • 4 minutes of cycling, tabata method

Proper form for bench pressDAY 4: BENCH PRESS

  • Warm-up with 5 minutes of cardio
  • Dynamic stretching
  • Bench press – start at lowest weight, work up to heaviest weight for 3 sets of 3
  • Incline push-ups – 3 sets of 8
  • Lat pulldowns (weight machine) – 3 sets of 10
  • Half-mile run

For each of these, good form is really important.  You don’t want to hurt yourself.  Each day’s workout takes me around an hour to complete. By the second week of going through the cycle, I was already increasing my weight. And those lunges that usually suck? They were way easier the second time around! So while I still think exercise is for chumps, I do like the results. And I’m not at all worried about getting bulky. But I do think I will get leaner. And be able to lift heavier objects, like big shopping bags!

Images: Squats, Overhead press, Dead lifts, Bench press

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8 thoughts on “Working On My Fitness: Weightlifting Cycle

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