Friday, February 29, 2008

Lifting light weights can lead to Remarkable Results

I first started this daily routine over 15 years ago after hearing a pro tennis player talk about the benefits of lifting light weights. He said it was truly amazing how lifting small amounts on a daily basis added muscle tone, strength and resiliency. He got into the program to gradually develop strength in his arm after having experienced several injuries, tendonitis and strains from playing tennis. He indicated that it didn’t just help him recover from his injuries, but it also helped prevent future injuries.

Most weight-lifting programs are so involved that it’s easy to say I don’t have time or I am too busy today to do my workout. But with light weights, that excuse is gone. It doesn’t take a tremendous amount of reps or heavy weights to get results. No sweating is involved. For $10 dollars you can significantly improve your muscle tone. One set of barbells can be used for numerous exercises. Get a 5 lb set to start. You may work your way up to 8, then 10 lbs. Do 10-15 reps of one exercise then immediately move on to the next.

It takes 5 minutes a day. I know from my own experience that it does improve strength and muscle tone. It will tighten up those flabby arms and thighs. Whenever I find myself wavering about doing my 5 minute routine, I remind myself of a few things:

It’s only 5 minutes
It makes all of the difference in the world
You can do just about anything for 5 minutes

The key is to make it a daily routine. I lift only on days that I work, so 5 days a week with weekends off. I have been able to stick with this little program for over 15 years, because it is not overly demanding of my time, its feels good to be doing something and it gets results.

To start, choose some simple, easy exercises that you like – bicep curls, arm extensions, bench press, shoulder press, crunches. Do not use a lot of weight. Start light, something that you can easily do 10-15 reps without fatiguing the muscle. Going for a slight burn will provide results even faster. Some will say your are not lifting enough. Don’t pay attention. It is better to lift light weights than none at all. Rotate or alter your routines. Don’t do the same exact thing every day. Choreograph a couple of routines that flow from one exercise to the next. I have several canned routines that I can quickly work through.

Here’s an example routine with 8 lb barbells:

10 squats that extend the barbell over head
10 shoulder presses
10 bicep curls
10 side arm extensions, alternate arms for each rep
10 forward arm extensions, alternate arms for reach rep
10 squats

Another routine using a bench/leg press. This one is great for cyclists. The leg extensions work the front quadriceps to help power up hills. I really noticed this having a positive effect on my riding capabilities. It’s great to be strong!

15 arm bench press
30 crunches
15 arm lateral curls/flys
15 leg extensions
10 pull down laterals
15 leg extensions
10 pull down laterals

If these routines sound simple and easy, that’s because they are. Give it a try for one week - you will begin to notice some improvements. In the past, anytime I started a weight lifting program, it didn’t take long to become disillusioned. Even with the best of intentions, it is difficult to maintain a schedule of lifting for an hour. Its time consuming to drive to the gym, get dressed, decide on which weights to lift, wait for the machine or station, then shower and drive home. All of that takes hours. These routines take minutes and it’s a great way to begin the day – and it’s pretty cool to think that you are ahead of almost everybody else from the start of the day.

For more fitness and health stories, please visit the Carnival of Total Mind and Body Fitness. My article “Exercise and Alcohol TOGETHER provide the most heart benefits" was included.


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