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Wanting to build strength

(12 Posts)
MistressMolecules Fri 17-Feb-17 14:45:17

I was wondering if someone would look at my program - I joined the gym about 6 weeks ago and said I wanted to build strength so the instructor gave me a program that involves weights followed by 40 minutes cardio.

My weights are (please don't laugh...I am very weak blush)

(All are 2 sets of 15 reps)

Converging shoulder press 9 kg
Converging chest press 7 kg
Lat pull down 16 kg
Leg press 42 kg
Bicep curls 7 kg
Sitting row 23 kg
Sitting dip 23kg

and then I do :

10 minutes AMT
10 minutes brisk walking
10 minutes bike
10 minutes elliptical

I currently have to be careful of my stomach area and my core and can't work the 6 pack muscles (I am having physio for this), have been advised to avoid free weights.

But here's the problem - I have lost weight (great so far as I am overweight by a lot) but my muscle mass has apparently dropped as well (not so great, opposite of what I was hoping for).

I used a Boditrax machine at the gym (I did get my height wrong by about an inch last time so have dropped height in machine) but surely that shouldn't have an effect in the negative for muscle mass percentage?

Do I need to change my program? I only can manage 2 sessions a week due to timings etc.

MistressMolecules Fri 17-Feb-17 19:15:50

Bump smile

Ihopethissongstartsacraze Fri 17-Feb-17 20:30:28

Have you increased the weights at all? AFAIK sets of 15 is too high to increase strength. I've found success in drop sets. E.g 10 reps, increase weight, 8 reps increase weight then 6,6,6. Others find success with sets of 5. Google "lifting heavy women" and there are lots of resources. I think this is a great blog:

Is there a free weights area you have access to? If you learn the big lifts (squat, bench, deadlift) you can work more than just your chest and legs.

FindoGask Sat 18-Feb-17 07:10:27

I would recommend a program like stronglifts 5 x 5

or starting strength

if you want to build overall strength. Both programs focus on the three big lifts that ihope mentions, though stronglifts also brings in the overhead press and pendlay row. I started with stronglifts myself, it's very simple to follow and there's an app you can download to track your progress. It's aimed at absolute beginners, and you'll find once you get going with it you'll start getting stronger really quickly, though some lifts you'll see more progress in than others, which is totally normal.

It's best if you can focus on really nailing down correct form for each of the lifts. There are loads of youtube videos for this. If you work out on your own, don't be afraid to video yourself on your phone so you can analyse what you're doing. You don't necessarily need a personal trainer and I'm afraid that many don't really know what they're doing anyway (based on what I see in my own free weights section)

Or, if you have one near you, you could join a barbell club, or approach a local specialist weight training coach, for 1:1 tuition and a personalised program. This is obviously a bit more expensive than doing it on your own but could be a good investment. I've been training on my own for a year but recently signed up with an online coach which is less expensive (£60 per month) but has been so helpful.

I agree with ihope too, if you want to build strength generally it's recommended to use bigger weights in lower rep ranges - between 6-8 maximum. Looking at your program, I would say it's more focused on cardio than strength, and the weights you are doing are too light. But it sounds like you think this too.

There's a baffling world of information online and you can totally fall down the google rabbithole trying to research stuff, so for me I found it best to stick to one approach until I had more confidence.

Hope this is helpful!

MaidOfStars Tue 21-Feb-17 11:49:45

You need to do big compound exercises, lower reps with higher weight.

Shoulder press (supersetted with pull ups).
Chest press (supersetted with push ups).
I sometimes chuck in inverted rows, for variation.

Don't need any more than that to get strong. Stop faffing around with bicep curls grin

I lift enough weight to reach fatigue in 10 reps, fatigue meaning a complete lack of any ability to focus/brace/get my CNS in order/sweating/panting. Once I can do 3 x 10, the weight goes up and I'll start back at 3 x 6, maybe 3 x 8, with some deloading between sets if necessary.

I do two sessions a week and do one lower/one upper body set per session. Yesterday, I did deadlifts, then shoulder press + pull ups + ball slams. On Thursday, I'll do squats (I do split squats with a weight vest because my form with the bar isn't ideal), push ups + chest press.

Strongbeatsskinny Thu 23-Feb-17 14:10:30

Maid please stop giving advice on heavy lifting such as deadlifts and barbell squats to someone who is new to weights. Seriously you do as you will you've obviously built your back strength beforehand.
If your a total newbie to weights it's advisable to focus on strengthening your back and core before attempting heavier more complex stuff.
Op lat pull down etc yes up the weight a couple of notches and do 3/4 sets of 12 by the8th or 9th rep it should start to hurt grit your teeth and go to 12😊
Also try and up your sessions to three a week I do five a week lasting an hour of intense lifting extremely heavy weight. Three legs two upper with minimal rest between sets. Then two hiit sessions a week on rest days and steady state on lifting days. I also work plus I've children and dogs to care for and a house to clean.

MaidOfStars Thu 23-Feb-17 15:44:57

Not sure why you've picked up on my comments specifically when they reiterate those of the posters above? and those of my personal trainer, and those of various Internet bloggers, etc

Deadlift, squat, bench press, something compound with shoulders. That's the best route to "feeling strong". The very first lift I did, maybe 10 months ago now, was a deadlift. I didn't have a particularly strong back - I started with a PT for the same reason as the OP:

I wanted to build strength

There's no reason a newbie shouldn't be able to do it (after practising form, obviously). It's a key lift - perhaps the best single one you can do - to get that elusive "building strength" feel. Deadlifts don't have to start heavy; I'm not advocating the OP start with her bodyweight in plates. I'm advocating lifting enough to be able to make it to 10 but maybe not 11 (isn't that pretty similar to your advice to "grit your teeth by 8/9"?)

Strongbeatsskinny Thu 23-Feb-17 16:11:39

Not sure why I've picked on you sorry Maid I didn't mean it to sound so directly at you however I've seen a few of your posts with a similar vein. I'm just looking out for the OP.

So you've got a PT and been lifting 10months. I've been lifting weights for far longer than that and have coached for the last 12years too. Your pretty much a newbie lifter yourself I'll bow out now as Obviously I know diddly squat about this subject.

MaidOfStars Thu 23-Feb-17 16:31:46

I'm very confused by your switches in tone. And also your message (other than trying to slam me down....).

I am/was a newbie (I don't know when one becomes a non-newbie - do I have to reach a certain power:weight ratio? grin). I'm not going to claim years of experience but, in juxtaposition, do not generally accept "arguments from authority". I started straight in with deadlifts. I don't think it's controversial to argue for these as a key part of a weights session. Every thing you read and learn about basic weightlifting programmes includes deadlifts.

FindoGask Fri 24-Feb-17 22:54:30

I don't see a problem with what Maid has posted. You can learn compound lifts with going heavy straight away. In fact I'd argue you physically couldn't go heavy straight away unless you're freakishly naturally strong. Most of the initial stages of lifting are learning the movement patterns.

FindoGask Fri 24-Feb-17 22:55:11

Without going heavy, that should say!

RJnomore1 Sat 25-Feb-17 08:09:50

I'd agree with maid. Things like bicep curls are just vanity moves. You need to do the big lifts to create strength and you don't need to start with a massive weight. For example body weight squats or goblet squats with a kettlebell or squats with a sandbag on your back will still do more for your strength than most of the programme ops been given.

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