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Moving on from beginner weights programme

(10 Posts)
louloubelle2 Wed 22-Apr-15 16:38:14

Hi. I am going to speak to a trainer at the gym, but in the spirit of keeping this new forum going and because i'm finding you guys really interesting and informative, I thought you might have some tips for me!

So, joined a gym, not with weight training in mind initially, and had a very basic beginners programme done for me, four machines, alternating arms and legs, high reps, low weights. Bit of warm up on a cross trainer beforehand, some pilates stretches on the mat after.

Now I'm starting to see results and have been a bit bitten by the weights bug I'm keen to progress. I'm probably not into super powerful lifting like some of you are, and I don't need to lose weight. I just want to get stronger and get some muscle definition particularly in the arms, shoulders and ab, which has already started.

I already follow a high protein, low carb diet, due to previous minor food issues I don't really want to get into counting macros as I think I could become obsessed. I'm also not interested in loads of cardio as I swim 50 lengths twice a week, go to classes at the gym when I can, and run.

One of the other gym users saw me moving from the lat pulldown to the seated leg press and asked me why I was "mixing" and that I'd get better results concentrating on one body area. (Incidentally, in reference to the other thread about male attitudes, he was a huge body builder type but approached me to be helpful, not superior at all, and was really careful not to come across too know-it-all, he actually encouraged me to get another programme sorted with a trainer).

So, should I be moving to this way of training? If you only concentrate on, say, arms and shoulders once a week, do you really see results?

I just know that what I do doesn't feel right now, and I feel a bit aimless and unsure of how to move round the gym and in which order. I'd also love to ditch the machines and move to free weights, and have developed a bit of a love for TRX.

Any advice useful, thank you.

chiruri Wed 22-Apr-15 17:15:32

I'm not really a believer in 'arm day' or 'leg day', and I also am not a fan of isolation movements or using machines. I find you get much better all over results with functional movements and free weights. For example doing squats rather than leg presses uses your core to stabilise you as well as both your quads and posterior chain. This will result in a more stable and balanced body. To get the same results you'd need to use at least three different machines! I also find working on the techniques of Olympic lifting (clean and jerk and snatch) hugely rewarding, but I appreciate that that's not for everyone. For standard strength training you'd probably focus on one area (front squat, back squat, deadlift, push press etc) per day, and work on increasing the load of a number of reps. I usually incorporate that with a cardio session or high rep body weight exercises (pull-ups, burpees etc).
Could you speak to a trainer at the gym and see about getting a free weights programme written up? You could look into some sessions to set you up with the basics of squatting, deadlifting and pressing.

Littlepumpkinpie Wed 22-Apr-15 17:20:22

I started with a upper and lower program like yours in the beginning. It's fine do back extensions this strengthens your back in readiness for the heavier stuff later down the line. Take it slowly there's no race it takes time enjoy what your doing. Try and find a coach that eat sleeps and breaths it them selves then they can take you to even better levels

shewept Wed 22-Apr-15 18:12:44

Personally, I would speak to a trainer if you have access to one.

I have been doing weights a while and change my programme every 6ish weeks. I do allsorts. I may do 6 weeks with legday, back day etc. Then may do splits so hamstrings and back in one day, quads biceps another.

At the moment I am working more on functional fitness as I am doing the Manchester Spartan in July. So doing more circuits classes and full body in the gym 3/4 times per week including functional exercises.

It really depends on what you want to do and what you find fun. I couldn't do the same thing week after week after week. So that why I change things up.

I have a pt that discusses all this with me before I get my new programme.

In answer to your question re one body part a day. Yes it does work, but if its not something you would enjoy, you won't keep at it. It isn't the only way. Even if some people in the gym think its law grin

louloubelle2 Wed 22-Apr-15 18:15:01

thank you both
chiruri I agree about the machines and I am keen to move away from them towards free weights as I know they work more muscles at once. Not sure about Olympic lifting, or maybe not just yet, but will talk to the gym trainers and see what they think too.
littlepumpkinpie I think finding the right trainer will be key - unfortunately I can't afford a pt, but do have free sessions as part of my membership in order to create and develop programmes and progress, all the trainers who work in the gym are so different though in terms or personality, I need to chat to them all a bit more and see who I 'gel' most with and who might get what I want out of my workouts. Maybe its just that bit I'm most afraid of, taking that next step and being brave enough to ask questions and know they are the right ones to ask.

Jackiebrambles Wed 22-Apr-15 18:33:46

Where I really saw results is moving to a simple programme of compound lifts - so ones that use a lot of different muscles.

I didn't do 'leg days', I just did the full body workout every time.

It was something like:
Back squat
Bench press
Seated row
Shoulder press
Chin ups (or bicep/tricep curls).

I lifted heavy weights sloooowly, with low reps.

As soon as I could comfortably lift for 12-14 slow reps (so lift at the count of 4, lower for 4) then I upped the weight.

Am pregnant with a toddler so haven't lifted for months. God I miss it!!

louloubelle2 Wed 22-Apr-15 19:20:17

Thanks, I fully intend to book a session with a trainer, but your points are really useful, gives me ideas of questions to ask.

The other thing about only working certain body parts in one session is if I can't go as often as I'd like one week, the perfectionist in me would feel like I was missing out.

Think maybe I need to ask about progressing from the machines to free weights/TRX, with an all body workout programme first.

LoganMountstuart Wed 22-Apr-15 20:17:32

Hi - I have only just started weight training so am less experienced than you but I am using the 'You Are Your Own Gym' book and app. It's the opposite to what you're doing, I guess, there's no equipment (except a couple of things, but most bodyweight exercises) and you can do it at home. It recommends doing legs/core one day then push/pull (arms/upper body) the next, which I have found to be good because I have stopped aching so much before I have to go back to that body part! I don't know if it is more effective though.

suzannecanthecan Wed 22-Apr-15 20:38:10

There's nothing wrong with training all muscle groups in one session but if you want to fully develop all muscle groups you'll need to work them from different angles and using different rep ranges, this is usually just too time consuming for one session.
Thats why body builders typically employ split workouts.

I'd say the next logical step from whole body is an upper body/lower body split.

I don't rule anything out, if it works for me then I'll use it...compound and isolation movements, machines, free weights, bodyweight and cables.

louloubelle2 Thu 23-Apr-15 17:42:28

Thank you all, its good to know that there are lots of different training options and no one set way. Perhaps just lots of different methods which may or may not work depending on you/your body type/ access to time etc....

LoganMountstuart I read your post, like you I'm a similar build and have similar goals of strength and toning to yourself. I only started in February, so not far ahead of you. Good luck with your method, be interesting to hear the results smile

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