Whether you call it weightlifting, pumping iron, or bodybuilding – lifting weights both light and heavy has long been a great way to get in shape and stay in shape. Weightlifting or weight training has many health benefits for both men and women. There are weightlifting and weight-training routines appropriate for men, woman, even children of any age, any size, and any body type. If you want to build muscle mass, increase stamina, improve cardiac function, even stave off the symptoms of osteoporosis – you can accomplish all of that and so much more by adding a good weight training routine to your regular workout.
To get the most health benefit out of lifting weights, you need to combine your weight training with other exercise. If you are not already doing some kind of aerobic or cardio workout everyday, you must do this in addition to weight lifting. It is not healthy to just begin to lift weights without a proper warm up. Of course before starting any workout routine, check with your doctor. Prior to starting your weight lifting workout you need to “get the blood moving” and your muscles primed for some heavy lifting. Just before hitting the weights, do a good ten minutes on a bicycle, take a short jog, or jump rope. Do a few legs and arm stretches as well. The key to successful weight training involves what are called repetitions. In lifting it is not so important how much you lift, but how many times you can lift the weight. A proper weight lifting routine will be designed to work out all of the major muscle groups of the body, which include: The Shoulders, Neck and Back, Biceps, Triceps, Quadriceps Chest, Abs, Hamstrings, Calves, and of course the Gluteus.
The next question on your mind is likely to be “should I use free weights or machines?” and “how much weight should I work out with?” You can use free weights or machines or maybe a little of both. If you are working out in a gym, of course they will have both and will likely be able to recommend a “circuit” of weight lifting exercises for you. If you intend to lift weights in the home, it all depends on your budget and physical space to determine of you want to buy a “Home Gym” type resistance trainer such as Bowflex – or a good set of free weights and barbells – or both. Weight machines are great for beginners because they have been designed to work a specific muscle or muscle group, and will insure that you are seated or standing in the right position to target that group when you lift. Free weights are the traditional barbells and dumbbells that have been around for centuries, and they work great. In fact some would argue that once you learn how to use them properly you get a better workout than machines because it is only the force of your muscles and your ability to balance the weight that keeps the weight and your muscles moving properly. There is no aid from the machine, so you are effectively using more muscle with free weights.
Lifting weights improves your strength and stamina. Lifting weights builds muscle and confidence, improves cardiovascular health and can actually help prevent other sports injuries. And lifting weights can help you lose extra pounds and keep them off – so what are you “weighting” for. Come on get pumping!
Want a good leg workout that will give you a good deep down burn while building and toning your entire thigh muscles including your gluts, that you can do at home without weights? Try the five minute body-weightsquat routine. Here’s how you do it. Stand with
your legs about shoulder width apart and start doing squats, we recommend doing full squats if you can, and stopping just short of locking out at the top, keeping constant tension on your thigh muscles. After you do some with your legs about shoulder width apart, try moving your legs a little wider apart. Changing the width of your legs thought the routine. You can alternate between a close stance, medium, and wide so that you hit all around your thighs. Another trick to keep your back straight is to cross your arms in-front of you, placing your right hand on your left shoulder and your left hand on your right shoulder, keeping your elbows straight out in-front of you, and keeping your head up. This is a great little leg workout and it’s not easy to do if you are not used to this. So if you need to take little breaks during the 5 minutes, you can until you get used to going the full 5 minutes without stopping. Once you can do the full five minutes without stopping, you can see how many squats you are doing and try to beat that number next time. After you’re done, you can do calf raises doing the same sort of thing. If you can, do these on a block or something where you can go all the way down, performing a full range of motion. That’s it, and there you have a short but effective leg workout in less then 10 minutes at home without weights.
Many of you ladies truly understand that
the secret to sexy legs lies in attaining some curvy calves. Without them, your legs look more like lifeless pegs, stems that drop straight from your knees to your heels without an inch of variation.
So, in order to lure your stubborn calves out of the past and into your future, try the following calf-blasting routines:
STANDING CALF RAISES: Place your feet on the platform, making sure that the balls are able to roll on the edge. Be sure not to put too much or too little of your foot on the platform. Slowly raising your heels, rotate the balls of your feet along the platform. At the point of contraction, you should be on the tips of your toes. Hold and squeeze your calves for two seconds, feeling the burn, then allow your heels to drop down to the starting position, just slightly below the edge of the platform. Repeat the motion. Try three sets of 15-20 reps at a manageable weight.
SEATED CALF RAISES: This exercise is identical in range of motion to the standing version, with the main difference being that your knees are bent in this exercise. This is to emphasize the soleus muscle as opposed to the gastroc muscle, as is stressed in the standing calf raises. Slowly rotate the balls of your feet on the platform as you lift your heels as high as you can. Squeeze the calves for a two-count during the contraction and then slowly lower you heels to the starting position. Repeat the movement for 15-20 repetitions through three sets.
LEG PRESS CALF RAISES: Placing your feet on the platform, lock your knees in a way that only the balls and the toes are on the platform. Your heels should be slightly beneath the platform. Also, make sure your feet are parallel to one another and not forming a ‘V’ on the platform. If you need to, place your toes just slightly outward. However, keep your feet just a few of inches apart. Then, rotate the balls of your feet, lifting the weight with your toes until your calves are completely contracted. Squeeze your calves for a moment and then slowly lower your heels to the level of the platform before repeating the movement. Do three sets of 12-15 repetitions.
The key to building great calves is to perfect the range of motion in your exercises. Poundage should certainly be low on your priority list. While doing these routines, focus strictly on proper form as you visualize the calves – and only the calves – tearing to shreds.