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Lifting weights is more than just lifting weights

August 13th, 2012 No Comments

When I lift weights, I have several goals:

  • Gain muscle and strength
  • Burn fat
  • Be completely exhausted in 1 hour

Those are no easy feat, especially when you fly solo without a trainer.  But, it can be done if you have knowledge of proper form, experience with different exercises that work each part of each muscle group (there are several parts per group), and a heart rate monitor.

1.  You Need An Understanding of Exercises and Form.

You can’t expect to bake a cake if you don’t know how much to put in of each ingredient, right?  In your daily workout, you need to understand what you’re doing, know how to do it, and be able to challenge yourself.  Form and variety are the keys to changing your body.  This is my way of saying, if you’re unfamiliar with how to use machines and free-weights correctly, hire a trainer.   Yes, it’s an investment, but your body is worth it. In a month’s time, you’ll learn so many different exercises, proper form (which is crucial for your body’s safety), and what you need to do to hit your personal goals.  To cut costs and stay motivated, sign up with a friend.


My trainer Cederick taught me his philosophy of Angles and Reps (see our workouts here).  When I’m not with him, I can repeat the workouts, or close to it, and add in other things I pick up along the way (in group fitness classes, etc) to keep the workout challenging.

2.  Heart Rate Monitors Keep You On Track

Looking at my heart rate monitor (this Polar model $109), I know that I need to stay in “zone 3”  – 145-160 beats per minute – in order to burn fat.  During a weight lifting workout, I will drop below that which is why I need the watch to tell me when I need to increase my intensity.

There are two ways I do this:  lift heavier weights (do fewer reps) and active recovery.  Active recovery is when you let the muscle group you’re working out rest or remove the weights from the equation.  For instance, if I’m working out chest, I might do a set of push ups in between sets.  If my chest is burned out, I’ll opt for mountain climbers to keep my chest engaged and pick up my heart rate.

I shot this video with BLAST900 a couple weeks ago, and since then, these movements have been my go-to’s (along with Berpies) to increase my heart rate between sets.

If you buy a heart rate monitor, you can ask the staff at your gym to help you set it up.  There are several components you can’t input without testing.

3.  The Cardio Component

Before a workout, I get in 10-15 minutes of cardio (whatever I feel like) to warm up my body, mentally lay out my workout, and burn 100 calories just to get that out of the way.  Before I start lifting weights, I’ll grab light weights and do exercises to wake up my muscles and secure my heart rate in the fat-burning zone.  This is the kind of stuff you do in group fitness classes:  squats with press, lunges with a curl, jab-punch combos for 1 minute on each side, shoulder raises and circles.   After a couple minutes of that, I’m ready to get to work.

Usually my caloric goal in a weight lifting workout is to hit 400 calories.  If I haven’t by the end of my workout, I’ll hop back on the treadmill or bike and hit that mark within 10 minutes.


**Please note, I’m not a fitness professional.  After 15 years of exercising, I’ve learned a lot and simply share my experience with you here.

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