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Change Your Body Through Weight Lifting 
 
by Amy Hunter June 10, 2005

You are not stuck with the body that you were born with. Exercise, in particular a well thought out weight lifting plan can change the shape and build of your body. This article will get you started.

For too long people have thought that the magical key to weight loss and a great body was through dieting and aerobic exercise. While these are certainly two important components, the often overlooked element is weight training. Whether you are male or female, weight training is the most effective way to re-shape your body. Before you get started, we can clear up a few common misconceptions.

I need to be at my ideal weight before I start lifting.

This is a pretty common excuse. While it is true that if you have extra body fat over your muscles, your new muscle will not be visible, this is no reason not to start lifting. Muscle is not built overnight. Start lifting weights now, and you will firm up as you slim down. Muscle also aids in the weight loss process by increasing your metabolism. Using proper form while lifting weights also improves your posture which helps you look much slimmer.

I will get too bulky

Sorry, but this is not likely to happen. The muscle bound athletes that you see at the gym did not get that way by accident. Those bodies require hours spent at the gym each day, along with specialized nutrition plans and supplements. The average weight lifter can gain a certain amount of tone and definition, but don’t worry about having to cut the necks out of all your shirts just yet.

I don’t have time to add anything else to my exercise routine.

There are a variety of ways to add weight lifting to your existing workout. You can shorten the length of your aerobic workout two days a week and lift on those days, or you can revamp your workout to include circuit training which provides an aerobic and weight workout at the same time. Now that you do not have any excuses, it is time to decide what type of weight lifting program to add to your workout schedule.

Circuit training

As mentioned above, this is a way to get an aerobic and weight training component into one workout. Choose the exercise that you want to add to your workout (one for each body part) and do each exercise for 30 to 45 seconds, moving directly from one exercise to the next. If you want to ramp up the intensity of your workout add in intervals of jumping rope, jumping jacks or running in place between every three weight lifting exercises. The key to getting a good workout is to do each exercise slowly and with control, while at the same time moving rapidly between exercises. The more time you spend standing around, the less effective your workout will be. One example of a weight lifting circuit workout would be:

Squats (legs)

Calf raises (legs)

Crunches (abs)

do jumping jacks for 45 seconds

Bent Row (back)

Chest Press (chest)

Tricep Dip (triceps)

do jumping jacks for 45 seconds

Bicep Curl (biceps)

Overhead press (shoulders)

Pushups (entire upper body)

do jumping jacks for 45 seconds

Repeat two times

Traditional weight training

Traditional weight training involves working out specific body parts on different days. Depending on how many days a week you want to lift, and what body parts you want to concentrate on, you can break your workout up in a variety of ways. The most important thing to remember when planning your workout is to give each body part 24 to 48 hours to recover between exercises. For example, if you want to workout three days a week, you could work your legs and abs hard on day one, with two or three exercises for each muscle group. On day three (day two is a rest/ aerobic day) do the same with your upper body. Day six (days four and five are rest/aerobic days) do a whole body workout with one exercise per muscle group.Of course, that is just one example. As long as you have scheduled in your rest days, you can mix up your workout however works best for you. You may also want to work some body parts more heavily than others.

Why you may wish to emphasize different body parts.

  • Sports related conditioning. If you are a runner who has trouble powering up steep hills, you may want to emphasize lower body exercises, in particular different variations of calf raises. Likewise, baseball, softball and golf all require core strength that can be gained by working your abdominal and lower back muscles. Sports specific conditioning is particularly valuable to the “weekend warrior” to help provide fitness and reduce the chance of injury.
  • Looking better in your clothes. As much as we may not want to admit it, we all like to look nice in our clothes. Following an overall weight lifting program with emphasis on your least favorite body parts can do wonders to balance out your look in clothes. Feel like your hips are too wide? Lunges tone and tighten the thighs while lateral raises shape up the shoulders, balancing out your body. This is just one example, the possibilities are endless.
  • An end to cellulite. While this is mostly a concern of women, the research is interesting. Many people have had great success reducing or even eliminating cellulite by engaging in an intensive, heavy lower body weight training program.
Reshaping your body through weight training is entirely possible. Muscle is much denser than fat, and provides a smooth surface for your skin to cover. By beginning a regular weight training program you can expect your body to look better even if you do not lose a single pound. Results are not instantaneous, of course. For the smaller muscles, such as the ones in your arms, you can expect to see results in four to six weeks, while the larger muscles, such as your thighs may take more than three months before you notice visible changes. The important thing to keep in mind is that change will happen, do not give up before you give your body time to respond. The internet provides a variety of resources for weight lifting exercises, so mix your routine up on a regular basis to stave off boredom and keep your muscles guessing.


 

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