Learnings from 6 Weeks of Weight Lifting as a Newbie!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I can't believe it, I am almost halfway through the Bite Sized Fitness Challenge! Six weeks ago, I decided to finally to adding weights into my workout routine. As a complete lifting newbie, I was lucky to find BiteSizedFitness's Instagram account and her 12 week fitness challenge. On BiteSizedArmy.com, there are new sets of workouts every week, basically a lifting routine, 5 days a week at the gym, each day dedicated to chest, legs, back, shoulder and arms.



For those of you who are just starting out or thinking about it, maybe you can relate to these thoughts - I wanted to give you an update since this will be the ONLY time I'll ever be a "lifting newbie" ever again. It's truly amazing how much I have grown in the past 6 weeks.

The hard part...

  • Learning a new language. Getting started in this challenge, I felt like I was completely clueless to what any of these workouts meant. Just like learning anything new, this is going to be difficult when you first get started. The first few weeks, I found myself fumbling around and wandering around the weights section of the gym a little clueless. Undoubtedly, most things took me longer than it had to, but I'm glad I started it.
  • Good Form, Bad Form. The trainers at my gym must have noticed that I was a fresh fish in the pond because during my first week, 2 of them came up to me to give me advice about having better form. (Also to solicite my business I am guessing.) This actually made me feel even more self-conscious but I just put my headphones on and kept on at it. I took their feedback and worked on correcting myself. In the beginning, I was using weights that were too heavy, making me compensate by having bad form. For the rest of the week I concentrated on which muscles I was supposed to focus on, and always made sure that I didn't have to use the wrong parts of my body to compensate (usually shrugging shoulders and lower back). Goodness, who knew 10 lbs can be so heavy!!
  • Research Research Research. For me, these 6 weeks of doing this challenge was a bit time consuming because I was trying to figure out how to do all the exercises that were listed, and also to figuring out how to do it with good form. This research usually took me an additional 1 hour of work before each week started, but it was worth it. I found that as the weeks progressed I was better able to understand which muscle I'm working during which exercises and now that I know the lingo, I don't have to look up exercises as often. As a part of my research, I googled each of the exercises and looked for images for it. If that was still unclear, I watched YouTube videos that goes through what I was supposed to do. To make things even better, your smartphone is probably going to be your biggest friend when you're at the gym and are still a bit confused! 


The fun & exciting part...

  • Confidence! Who knew some of these exercises could be so fun? Yes, they are intimidating at first, but I had a strong sense of accomplishment when I finally put my mind to it and was basically forced to try the scariest things at the gym. The squat rack was always so intimidating to me, but guess what? After your first time, you'll never be a complete stranger to it anymore. Even if you make a fool out of yourself the first time around, it only gets better. Now, have that multiplied by six weeks and I am now going up to the rack with confidence. This holds true for a ton of exercises that I love now and can't wait to bring into my regular workouts.
  • Better posture? An unexpected side effect of my lifting is that I've noticed that I have better posture. When I told a few people about this, they said yes, it's because your back muscles are stronger now so you can hold your chest up higher. Who knew? But I like it!
  • Routines help motivate. Not sure if this holds true for everyone, but ever since I got started on this routine of having to complete all of my workouts every week, I have grown more comfortable with the idea of having to go to the gym to do them. The first few weeks were definitely the hardest, but I found that during the last 2 weeks, when I asked myself the question "Do I REALLLLLY need to go to the gym today?", it was easier to come to the conclusion of Yes. Something about knowing what to expect out of the session really helped. 

Results?

I know, I know, with all that excitement, I know you're wondering about what most people wonder when someone goes through any fitness changes. For the record, in the past 6 weeks, I've gained some weight. This might be a big discouraging to see because I've been spending an average of 1-2 hours in the gym, 5x a week. However, the biggest compliments came to me earlier this week from my spin instructor Jon and his partner Kim, who's always in the class. 

I've been going to spin at least 3x a week with Jon for the past 2 years, and in the past week, both Jon and Kim has told me that I'm looking thinner and more fit. The main thing that I wanted out of starting weight lifting is to see more muscle definition and to see SOME type of change for having work out so often.

While I personally do see a bit of my fat burned off, I'm still slightly shy & embarrassed for any transformation photos. Perhaps we'll have to wait until the full 12 weeks is over. Until then, thanks for sticking with me on my journey to become more fit in 2014!

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