Monday, February 22, 2010

Big Muscles?

Oh Happy Monday friends,
I got home last night around 6:30pm from Arizona and it was back to work this morning. I thought it was going to be more terrible than it was, but I had no problem falling asleep last night at 10 even though it was only 8 Arizona time. Apparently I never fully switched over, or I can just never got o bed too early :) I was pretty exhausted today but coming back from vacation is always tough. I told the kiddos that my favorite part of vacation was self serve frozen yogurt. I explained it to them as make you own sundaes with frozen yogurt. They were on board. I think there could be a real market for this in Boston...anyone?

So today I want to talk about strength training. You may remember at the beginning of January I decided to get serious about strength training. I began taking a weight class at my gym twice a week and I read The New Rules of Lifting by Lou Shuler. Back then I talked a lot about my strength training sessions and what I was working on at the gym. Since then I have not mentioned it much, but I have consistently completed a strength training routine three times per week at the gym.

In general, I'm proud of what I accomplished since I began my quest to incorporate strength training into my workouts. Sure, I've lifted before, but never consistently enough to see any results. The fact that I haven't missed a strength training workout in almost two months is a major accomplishment in itself. That, and the fact that I haven't once done 4 biceps curls with a 5 pound dumbbell and then called it a day.

There are other accomplishments too. First of all, I have learned more than I thought possible about how to strength train, which exercises work which muscles, and how to balance training so I do not have imbalances in my body. Also, I'm comfortable with the weight machines even in new gyms. Two months ago you never would have caught me switching the grip on a pull down machine. I have even improved a lot in how much weight I can lift on every exercise I can do! Finally, I can see muscle in my arms, muscle I have never seen before.

I should be 100 percent satisfied. Goal= accomplished, right?

Okay, truthfully I did not start strength training to get stronger, or more comfortable in the weight room. I did it so my arms will look good in a certain white dress I'll be wearing this summer. Also I was a little sucked in by the idea that muscle burns more calories than fat. Who doesn't like the prospect of being able to eat an extra spoonful of ice cream?

How did this go for me? Well, like I mentioned, I can see muscles in my arms. Honestly though, unless my arms are flexed, it mostly just looks like my arms got bigger. I am not going to walk around on my wedding day with flexed arms so basically I am just going to look like I put on some weight, just what ever girl dreams of looking like on her wedding day. Oh, and as for burning extra calories, I wouldn't know because I am so hungry all the time that I am sure I've eaten significantly more calories than I was before. I definitely haven't lost any weight, and have probably gained 5 or 6 pounds of what I can only hope is muscle, but who really knows?

Hmm, maybe not the success I was looking for...

According to Lou Shuler (New Rules of Lifting for Women) you can't really tone (aka make muscles look better without making them bigger) and I have to say WHY NOT?!?! (that is a five year old whine in case you couldn't tell). He says that if you do the low weight, high rep plan that promises to "tone" your muscles it actually won't do anything because you are not challenging your muscles and then they won't grow. If they don't grow you won't look any better than you do now. Well...then maybe I'll just take my old arms back and the 3+ hours a week I am spending lifting. Unless anyone has any suggestions for me?

Oh and also, I skipped my weight class tonight so I could unpack, do laundry and get to bed early (first time I have skipped without doing a replacement work out). Unlike most Monday nights when I get home at 8:15pm and feel ready to eat the entire house...I just had my dessert, I am happily full and will probably not even think about going back to the kitchen for the rest of the night. I don't think I like lifting anymore...

I don't tend to compare my body to others or wish for the body of a model. But is it too much to ask for Jennifer Anniston's arms? Apparently yes...haha


  1. I would also love Jennifer Anniston's arms. :)

    I keep saying I need to do more strength training but never seem to follow through with it. I just don't enjoy it as much as cardio, but I know it's something I need to work on to get the results i want. My knee is still bothering me, though, so I have been taking it easy lately. I am probably going to go to the doctor this week & make sure it isn't anything serious. Kind of freaking out & hoping it gets better soon!

  2. Hmmmm. I have been doing regular strength training to and I can totally see a difference in my shoulders/biceps but NOT my triceps. They're as flabby as ever.

    I think programs like that just work differently for different people. I think you should take ACTUAL measurements of your arms and do it for another 4-6 weeks and then take the measurements again. That's the only way you can really tell I think.

    Also, try swimming! It really helps to tone the arms. I think part of my newfound arm tone is probably from swimming.

  3. Oh, so disappointing for you! But you ARE stronger from all that work. And while you may not be flexing on your wedding day...I had a friend who brought hand weights to the church. She busted out a few sets of curls before heading down the aisle. Apparently that "cut" is suposed to last a few hours!

  4. I am sorry that you aren't feeling the most satisfied with your new work out program -- especially with all the work you've done! Because I am right with ya -- I would much rather pump out 45 minutes of cardio than do a 30 minute strength training work out!

    I, personally, have come across the same dilemma with weight training -- and my solution was:

    -I kept up the cardio, and focused EVERY workout on "cardio" - even if it was a strength work out.
    -Meaning..... I would do lots of circuits. In between a series of 3 lifts, I would do something cardio-ish (squat thrusts, 5 minutes on a tredmill, lunges)
    -If I didn't feel my arms burning at the end of something I decrease gradually - for example:
    *15 reps of bicep curls (15 lbs) X 2
    *20 reps of bicep curls (10 lbs) X 2
    *20 reps of bicep curls (7.5 or 5 lbs)
    *5 lb bicep curls as many times possible

    If my suggestions make absolutely no sense -- I apologize! I am sure you are going to look incredible in your wedding dress. These things just work out when your as motivated as you are! :)

  5. That sounds like an interesting read. However, I have to say, low weight, high reps certainly does HURT. So, I'm not sure how he can say it doesn't work anything.

  6. I don't know what to say about the weight lifting thing except my biceps never look toned, they just look bigger, too. I DO see a difference in my shoulders and back when I do weights. Can you see satisfactory results in other places?

    I don't think you need to worry about anything though... you are going to look gorgeous, no matter what!

  7. Hey! You won Marlene's giveaway! Congrats!

  8. I'm not a fan of strength training, although I know how important it is. When I am being good about lifting, I always am doing cardio as well because that is what I enjoy. Maybe that has helped. I wish I had better advise, but I am not a good person to be giving advise on lifting. I should be taking notes instead! All of this talk of strength training is slowly pushing me to get back into it.

  9. I always wonder how those celebrities have such lean arms and yet you can see the muscle definition. I'm thinking the answer is ZERO PERCENT BODY FAT. No fair!!!

  10. I hear what you are saying. I was the maid of honor in a wedding over the summer and I did some strength training to look better in my halter dress. When I looked at some of the pictures I was like, "Whoa my arms are huge!" I could only see the muscle when I zoomed in (which made me feel a little better). I'm not sure what the answer is. I guess you just need to do what's best for you.

  11. :( I'm whining too because I'm always frustrated with the way my arms look. Wahhhh.

    And PS: You will look beautiful on your wedding day so don't even worry about your arms.

  12. You are doing all the right things by lifting...but, the problem might have gained SOME muscle (not 5-6 lbs worth..not possibly in that short of a might take a yr or more to gain that much)...but you still have the fat covering them so you can't see the defined arms that you want.

    Good news is that you are starting to build the base for those defined you have to strip some fat of them by eating a little less or doin a little more cardio in addition to the strength training you are already doing.

    Just my advice anyways!

  13. Cute...and yes Jennfer Anitson has amazing arms!

  14. I'm sorry you didn't get the results you wanted :( But your post was very helpful for us readers so it wasn't done in vain!

    It's like you reaffirmed what we were all afraid of to begin with! I think I'll just stick with doing a bit of weights but nothing to serious...

  15. OH but there's so many benifits to increasing muscle mass!

  16. I think it was Jillian Michaels who said something really similar, actually -- that she feels like her arms don't get toned, they just get bigger. It's probably just your perspective -- I'm sure you look awesome! :D

    Welcome home!

  17. I feel ya, girl. I am also trying to get my arms in shape for a certain dress. I don't think I'll ever have anything close to Jennifer's arms.

    But you know what? No one is going to pay any attention to your arms (or mine) on your wedding day!