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You probably want to start with little or no weight and one "set," or series of these workouts, for your first week or two. After that, you almost certainly want to progress to two or even three sets. You might add a little weight (be careful). Generally, I'd start with 5-7 repetitions and add repetitions first. You can always increase weight later.
Here's the details of each exercise:
Setups (abdominal muscles) Sit-ups sound simple. They're not. Always bend your knees to avoid back strain (one reason I like a sit-up board) and concentrate on using JUST your abdominal muscles. It's easy to cheat.
(The flies and bench presses are best on a bench so that you have room to bring your arms back. I've done well lying with my head on the very corner of a bed so that I can extend my arms/elbows back that way. You can even do this flat on the floor although you won't get the full extension.)
"Flies" on back (pectoral and shoulder muscles). Lie on your back on a bench or even on the corner of a bed so that your head is almost off the corner. Hold dumbbells in each hand, away from your body at shoulder height and with the handles parallel to your body. With your arms slightly bent, raise the dumbbells in an arc until they meet over your chest.
Bench presses (arm and shoulder). Still lying on your back, hold the barbells over each shoulder, with the ends almost touching, then slowly push them away from your chest, up into the air.
"Wake-ups" (lower back) Stand up with the weights clasped against your chest. Bend at the waist until your upper body is not quite parallel to the floor, then slowly raise back to an upright position. Do this very slowly and deliberately to avoid back injury.
"Butterflies" (lats). Bend over again and open your arms (like butterfly wings, get it?). With the dumbbells parallel to your body, use the muscles between your shoulder blades to pull the weights upward as far as you can. Again, do this slowly and don't strain. A great exercise if you sit at a computer all day.
Lunges (legs). Let the dumbbells hang at your sides. With your left leg, stride forward as far as you can without extending so far that you lose your balance. Still using your left leg, push back up to your original position. The entire movement is much like a fencers lunge. Do a dozen or so of these on your left leg then repeat the process on the right. The next day, you'll feel like someone has taken a ball bat to your rear end! Can you say, I didn't know I had muscles there!
(The next four exercises can be done standing, after the lunge, or seated upright on a chair)
Biceps curl (palms up). Stand with weights hanging down, in front of your upper thighs. The handles should be parallel to the floor and the ends almost touching. Slowly bend your arms at the elbow and bring the weights up to your shoulder. Concentrate on using only your biceps, keeping your upper body still.
Triceps curl. Raise your arms straight over your head then bend them at the elbows so the barbells touch your upper back. Now using only your triceps, slowly straighten your elbows. Lower slowly and repeat.
Reverse biceps curl (palms down). If you paid attention, you noticed that the first biceps curl was done with the palms up. These are the same thing with the hands facing down. You'll feel it a lot more in your forearms.
Rowing lifts (shoulders). Stand with weights hanging down, in front of your upper thighs. The handles should be parallel to the floor and the ends almost touching. Slowly raise the dumbbells up to shoulder height. You should feel it in your shoulders and neck. Another great exercise for office slaves.
(The next two exercises are on the floor. Carpet works superbly. In my basement I use a cheap "exercise" mat to soften the concrete.)
Back extensions (lower back muscles). Lay on your stomach with your hands lightly touching the floor at your side (just for balance). Using the muscles in the small of your back, arch your upper body AND your legs off the floor. Hold for a second or two then relax. Repeating this only 8-10 times is usually enough.
Pushups. I throw these in just because we're already on the floor and, what the heck. Do them anyway you want.
(Flip over and lie on your back)
Wrestlers neck bridges (neck and shoulders). Lay on your back and CAREFULLY raise everything off the floor but your head and feet. You probably will not be able to do this at first or hold it long, but you'll be surprised how much stronger your neck muscles can get. I pulled this one from my junior high gym class. That's a LONG time ago, but this is still a nifty exercise that almost everyone can benefit from.
Abdominal crunches. Still on your back, bend at the hips so your knees are pointing up. Then, using your abdominal muscles, raise your head and chest toward your knees. I hate these.
Squats (legs, some back). Hold the dumbbells at your shoulders or, if you have a barbell, do a military press and rest it on the back of your neck. Keeping your back straight and your eyes forward, bend your legs until your thighs are NOT QUITE parallel to the floor. Don't go too far down or you risk knee injury, especially with larger weights. A good trick is to imagine a chair under you and don't go lower than that. After bending as far as you should, straighten up again. This is an excellent overall exercise. Don't skip it.
Calf extensions (lower leg). With the weights in the same position as during your squats, stand up on your toes, hold for a second, then drop down. You should feel this in your calf muscles.
Military presses (arms, shoulders). This might be overkill, but after you finish the calf extensions, it's a nice finish to raise the weights all the way over your head 3-5 times.
(This routine and the individual exercises do not constitute an offer or guarantee, promised or implied. It works for me, it may not for you. Likewise, you should be careful. You can hurt yourself. If in doubt, don't.)
Dale Garrison's Incredible Weight Workout
I started "lifting weights" when I first became serious about long distance cycling. That motivation isn't important, except it explains why I put a premium on building tone and "posture" muscles rather than more traditional strength and bulk.
As it turned out, that's one of the strengths of my little program. Because it's not a killer workout, you can do it in the morning before work and not start twitching during a staff meeting. Or you can use it on the same day of a run, ride or swim. Yet, if you give it a fair try two or three times a week, you'll be surprised at the results you get.
The key to the effort is going through an entire set without pausing. Each exercise should be done slowly and deliberately, concentrating on the muscle being used and not jerking or rushing. But DON'T rest more than a breath or two between exercises. That way, I can usually get through the whole thing in 20-30 minutes...and that's plenty for what this is intended to do. This also tends to make you concentrate on your breathing...inhaling deeply through your nose and exhaling long and hard.
You can add exercises or change the order. However, another key to this program is the attention to most muscle groups. It also does not work one muscle twice in a row and with only one or two exceptions, it does a good job of addressing opposing muscles. It's a balanced workout. Keep that in mind before you start switching things around. If your crunches end up right after your setups, neither is likely to be as effective.
The minimum equipment is a pair of dumbbells (5 to 15 pounds is plenty). I'm serious; that's it. A bench or sit-up board is a great addition, and a barbell with 50-100 pounds is great for squats and military press. If you're in a basement, a mat (or scrap of carpet) is nice. But with a pair of 2-pound cans of stew from the kitchen and a carpeted room, you can get a good workout. If I don't have a bench, I use the corner of a bed. This is one of the few programs I know that can be done in a motel room.
By the way, if you're just starting, using stew cans or nothing but your own weight is a good idea. I'd recommend that you start this way for a week or 10 days then begin adding weight and repetitions. By the same token, even I occasionally use 15- or 20-pound dumbbells late in winter after I've been doing a lot of off-season training.
How often should you do this? To get up to speed, you're usually looking at three times a week. Once you're relatively fit-or if you're doing something else-you can maintain decent tone with only two workouts a week. Once a week will even do some good, but you'll tend to be sore after a workout because you're not maintaining enough muscle fitness with that sporadic schedule. If you're working out this way four or more times a week, you're probably ready to add something else. And how can you stand to workout indoors that much, anyway?
What is all this about? Basically this program is nothing more than a series of light weight lifting exercises, sit-ups and similar calisthenics, repeated in two or three "sets." I hate to put it that way, because a lot of people respond, "Yeah, I've tried that. It didn't do any good." Or, they'll say, "You need machines or heavy weights and spotters to do any good." My only answer is, Just try it for a while.
I like to joke about our preoccupation with fitness and weight, but this little program can bring serious results. My personal reason is that it just makes you feel better. You be the judge.
Okay, just what is this magic workout? Before beginning, l will apologize to "serious" weight lifters. This program is NOT intended to provide your level of intensity. As I said, it's for basic, overall toning or as minimal strength training in conjunction with an aerobic program.
More importantly, I know that some of my terminology might be suspect. For example, I added an exercise to my routine after seeing it demonstrated in a college phys ed class while I was running laps indoors. I'm still not sure of the "proper" name of this exercise. But really, I don't care. I know this workout works.
So here's the scoop in abbreviated form:
(Lying on back)
(Sitting or standing)
(Lying on stomach)
(Lying on back)
That's it. You've just finished one set. I usually do two. Three is excellent. Either way, this program is simple. But done steadily, without long pauses, it will leave you breathing hard and pleasantly tired. You'll almost certainly be a little sore the next day. And after a few weeks you will feel something you may have never felt before, an overall muscle tone that is just a lot of fun!
I will finish with a word of warning. To be most effective, even light weights like this should be used slowly. Concentrate on the muscle being used. Don't jerk weights or speed through a workout. This is safer and more effective.
If the weight you're using is so heavy that you can't lift it with a smooth motion, use a lighter weight and/or fewer repetitions. With the "wake-up" back exercise and the wrestlers bridge, be especially cautious. These are areas that are especially prone to injury.
As to how much weight or repetitions is correct, I came across a good rule of thumb: You should use enough weight that you can perform 10-12 lifts, or repetitions. If you can barely manage 5-7, your weight is probably too heavy. If you can easily get to 12-15, it's probably too light.
|© 1999 Dale Garrison Editorial Services. Everything on these and following pages is mine. Use it wholly or in part without my permission and I will give your name to my friends in law enforcement and the legal profession. On the other hand, if you see something that strikes your fancy, just holler. I'm pretty easy to get along with.|