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jlm11f's avatar

What are some good tips for someone just starting to incorporate weights in their exercise routine?

Asked by jlm11f (12393points) August 14th, 2008

Ok. so facts, I am 19 years old, 5’2”, female, petite (i don’t know my weight because we don’t own a weighing scale). I have absolutely no upper body strength whatsoever. I’ve decided I want to help build it by using weights. I tried some exercises with a measly 3lb weight for about 3 min before my arms hurt save me the jokes :P. What weight should I start at? Any easy exercises you can recommend to help get started? Thanks!

PS – I don’t want to build big burly muscles, just be healthier I suppose.

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8 Answers

jrpowell's avatar

It will hurt. Wait until you feel better and try again. Shoot for four minutes next time. Three pounds isn’t going to kill you.

I was like a noodle that hurt everywhere after my first few workouts. Serious pain. But it gets better after a while.

shrubbery's avatar

Always stretch first, and afterwards too. Try no weights at all first. Just go through the motions with the empty bar or like half a kilo. It will hurt, but you have to keep at it. I’d say keep the time short and maybe try repetitions instead. Like say twenty lifts this time, see if I can get twenty again after I’ve had a little rest.
Just keep at it and you’ll be right :)

oh and be safe whatever you do- go in to the gym with a friend have them spot you while you’re doing bench press and stuff.

robhaya's avatar

Lower weight at higher reps = tone muscles. Don’t over do it when you start out, if you haven’t worked out in a long time, just take it slow. Your going to be sore regardless, but that will go away over time and as your muscles get used to be worked out.


shilolo's avatar

You should consider working on the larger muscle groups first (or at least at the same time) as the smaller muscle groups. For the upper body, I mean the chest and back. If you are working out at home, there are a few simple exercises you can do with the limited amount of weights you have. Of course, if you are a gym, then the options are endless.
1. Chest: Push-ups are great. Since you are just starting out, I suggest you do push-ups with your knees on the ground. Once you are comfortable with that, you can transition to the standard push up. As a bonus, this exercise will work your triceps and shoulders as well.
2. Back: Here are a few good exercises for home.
3. Arms: You can continue to do bicep curls for your biceps, and add in some tricep exercises (basically a reverse curl) to even out the muscle groups.

Summer's avatar

Some people may get wrapped up in the cardio and ab workout and forget about one of the most important things about losing weight and getting in shape and that is building muscle. I was told that if you have only 30 minutes to work out, you should choose lifting weights over cardio because weight lifting will build muscles that will continue to burn calories even after you’ve stopped working out.

Tips for jiggle-free arms:
1. Don’t underestimate the magic of the push-up. Do 3 reps of 20 everyday and you’re arms will start shapin’ up.

2. Grab some 10 lb weights and do what I like to call 21’s. Instead of lifting the weights up from your hips to your shoulders start at the bottom and do 7 reps half-way up, then 7 from the half-way mark up to the shoulders and then 7 full spectrum reps. Do this sequence at least 3 times.

3. Overhead reps are great for toning the “angel wings” that so easily form on the underside of our arms.

Make sure to push yourself hard enough that you feel your weight lifting the next day. If you need to write down how many reps you’ll do of each exercise and stick to it, even when it gets hard.

Poser's avatar

If you’re doing much more than about fifteen reps, you probably aren’t building muscle like you’re aiming for. Try lifting more weight for fewer reps. This will both build and tone your muscles. Aim for anywhere between 8–12 reps for about 3–4 sets per exercise. Concentrate on your form on each repetition. If you are lifting heavy weights improperly, you won’t receive the desired effects, and you’ll risk injury.

There is little need to worry about becoming “bulky” like the female bodybuilders you sometimes see. It takes lots and lots of work to build a body like that (and, more often than not, lots of steroids). Women typically don’t have testosterone in high enough concentrations to build bulky muscles.

Focus on large muscle movements: chest, back, legs. The benefit of these exercises is that they are compound movements. For example, pushups—as Shilolo mentioned—work your pectoral muscles, but also your triceps, shoulders, and core muscles. Chin-ups, work your upper back and bicep muscles. Squats and lunges work pretty much every muscle in your legs and rear end.

I’ve found the best results in my workouts doing bodyweight-bearing exercises such as these. Vary each exercise. Do pushups on your knees if you have to, but varying your hand position focuses on different muscles. Narrow grip or diamond pushups focus on your triceps, while a wider grip focuses more on your pectorals. There are many different types of pullups you can do, and altering your grip on those also changes which muscles in your back and arms are getting more work.

Vary your workouts every four to six weeks, to avoid “plateauing.” There are lots of ideas online for finding different exercises. Remember that your diet is a big part of building muscle. I’ve heard that you should eat about as much protein, in grams, as you weigh in pounds. Of course, that means that you’ll have to find a bathroom scale somewhere, but if you weigh 100 lbs, you should aim for about 100 grams of (lean) protein per day to build muscle.

There is some truth to the old saying, “No pain, no gain.” In order to build muscle, you must break it down. You should do each set to near failure. In other words, on each set, perform reps until you can no longer do another rep with good form. It should burn, but not be painful. When you’re first starting out, you’ll be really sore the next day, and, if you did a really good workout, you won’t want to get out of bed two days later. But it’ll be a good type of soreness (I like it anyway). But give yourself enough time to rest between workouts. Your muscles grow when you are resting—not when you are working them. It works well if you do one muscle group every other day. Monday: chest. Wednesday: back. Friday: legs. Good luck!

flameboi's avatar

2 lb. weights should be enough to start I’m impressed you are 19 by the way

jlm11f's avatar

Thank youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu to everyone! I have got some real quality answers and I couldn’t be happier (or more grateful). Lurve to all!

@robhaya – aha! “toning my muscles” is EXACTLY what i had in mind. I wish i had used those words in the Q description.
@JP – thanks for making me feel better about being a wimp by mentioning it was painful for you too!
@shrubbery – ooh i like the idea of going through the motions with no weight first. thanks hun!
@shilolo, poser, summer – ugh. pushups?? do i have to :(? haha j/k, thanks for all the good tips!
@flameboi – i am not sure why you are impressed, but thanks anyway :)
@everyone in general – i do exercise regularly, i just wanted to add weights to my regime, so thanks for all the help.

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