Sandeep's Nook - Fitness Page


A Simple Home Workout With Weights


Whether you lead a fast paced life or a fit body... a healthy mind believe in taking things easy; exercise, a disciplined lifestyle and a healthy diet will enable you to enjoy life better and with greater fulfilment. If you are the type of person who always wanted to do something for your body but didn't know where to start, read on. This workout is just meant for those who are not interested in looking like Mr. Olympia but who would definitely
"For most of us, health will depend not on who we are, but on how we live. The body you have at 20 depends on your genes, but the body you have at 40, 60 or 80 is the body you deserve, the body that reflects your behaviour."
-- Dr. Harvey Simon.
like to look and feel better than they do now, all this to be achieved without expensive equipment, a sore body or membership in some health club.

A lot of people live with the misconception that the only way to exercise is to join a health club or to go to a gym. But the fact is that you can do a complete workout just about anywhere! With the right attitude and minimal equipment you can get a thorough workout within the confines of your home. Whatever your motives, following a fitness routine is a dedication. Your main aim in undertaking a fitness routine should be to change the constitution of your body; i.e. to increase your muscle mass and reduce body fat, and that means making changes in your diet, lifestyle, as well as doing a weight workout.

Just as everyone needs oxygen, food, and sleep, you also need vigorous exercise to maintain excellence in your physiological and mental processes. Physical fitness can be considered as the cheapest form of preventive medicine. Even if you are only starting out with an exercise regimen, you should remember that the moment you have involved yourself with a regular, vigorous routine for four to eight weeks, you'll see changes in both your mental and physical makeup.

But there is more to staying fit than just preventing disease. Regular physical activity can lead to a state where your body can function at optimal efficiency in doing daily tasks, with enough in reserve for you to be ready to tackle crises as and when they arise and also to pursue your hobbies and other leisure activities with greater vigour.

 Back to top | Back to Index | Home 

 Why you need weights

Why is it essential to use weights in a workout at all? After all there are a lot of people who say that weights are not necessary and that with aerobics alone you can gain a lot. Now, this view is not to be disputed. But the fact of the matter is that with weights alone can a person hope to gain more in lesser time and with lesser chance of injury. Also weight lifting keeps your body burning fat long after you have showered and freshened up. In recent studies the resting metabolic rate (rate at which calories are burned while a person is inactive) of healthy men was found to be more than 11% higher than it was before a 90-minute weight workout. In fact, the resting metabolic rate remained elevated even up to 15 hours after a workout with weights. Even better, it was found that the calories burned by the body in the hours after exercise tended to come from fats rather than carbohydrates.

Body Language
If you are going to make your muscles work, it only makes sense to first learn a little about how they function. Here are just a few of the body's basic structures and how they work together to make human movement possible:
Central nervous system: This system consists of the brain and spinal cord, and functions in conjunction with the peripheral nervous system. This system coordinates the activity of the entire nervous system.
Ligaments: These are tough, flexible tissues that bind bone to bone and hold organs in position.
Tendons: These are dense cords of fibrous connective tissue at the ends of muscle that join them to bone. The force exerted by the muscle is usually transmitted via the tendons.
Bones: The human body includes 206 bones that combine together to form the skeleton. Tendons attach bone to muscle and assist in movement.
Muscles: There are three distinct kinds of muscle tissue - Cardiac (heart), Smooth (stomach and intestines) and Skeletal (those responsible for moving our bones). There are more than 600 skeletal muscles in the body and this 3-to-1 ratio of skeletal muscle to bone helps to make us so nimble.

Also it is found that over 50% of those who participate in vigorous aerobics suffer from injuries to their legs, back, and/or upper body as both high and low-impact aerobic exercises require a person's feet, legs and body to take a lot of pounding. In high-impact aerobics, as both feet spend time off the ground simultaneously, most injuries are to the shins, but injuries such as tendinitis in the feet are also common. Even though the feet absorb most of the pounding and stress, some of it moves up the body affecting the lower back. Also, most of the upper-body injuries are caused due to low-impact workouts. Low-impact workouts tend to injure the upper body because of the common practice of swinging weights to compensate for the lack of jumping movement. This usually leads to tendinitis in the arms, pulled backs, and strains.

So the best bet would be to undertake a smart routine that includes exercises with weights as well as without weights, which together can help you gain in strength, suppleness, as well as endurance, and build muscle mass without the fear of injuries.

The following are a few more ways in which weights can help you:

The only thing you need to improve yourself is ambition, commitment and motivation.

 Back to top | Back to Index | Home 

 Motivation

Most people find it a little bit difficult to accept that there is a direct connection between our minds and our bodies. The general bias is for many to give undue importance to the mind over the body. Western medicine had always separated the two which had lead to many thinking of them as being two independent and disconnected entities. Given such an attitude it is easy to overlook some obvious interactions between the two. For example it is more likely for us to fall ill when we are under stress because our negative mental outlook will have suppressed our entire immune system. Also it is known that we have a better attitude towards life and are relatively stress-free if we take up any kind of physical activity. Our minds and bodies are not just connected together but they are also influencing each other in many more ways than we could have even dreamt of. Regular exercise has shown the ability to build self-esteem and self-confidence by making us feel good about ourselves and thus help in fighting depression. Conversely when a person is leading a rather sedentary life he or she tends to have low self-esteem. When a person is feeling good, his or her motivation to improve and excel would increase. In many ways this interaction between the mind and body is very subtle; but this generally subdued interaction can be enhanced to benefit from its many positive attributes by improving your physical condition, and that is possible with a good exercise regimen.

If for you motivation is a problem you should remember that motivation and self-esteem go hand in hand. To keep going back to your workout schedule you have got to understand and treasure your goal in life, i.e. the improvement in your mental and physical well-being. It has been noticed that those who had poor self-esteem were those who skipped their workouts the most. While on the other hand regular exercise has been shown to build self-esteem and fight depression. To sum it up, regular workouts have been shown to build self-esteem while self-esteem is crucial in getting you to follow a good workout routine. So go ahead and exercise, it will do you good in more ways than one, including getting you further motivated and thus having you asking for more.

 Back to top | Back to Index | Home 

 Basic Weight Training

Now we come to the point where we can start talking about a basic weight training routine that anyone can start. Some potential exercise hopefuls are usually put off by the thought of having to go to a bodybuilding gym. But as mentioned earlier, you do not have to step out of your home nor do you need to buy expensive equipment to give your body a thorough and beneficial weight workout. The knowledge of which exercises to do coupled with motivation is all you need. But be careful! In the first few months of any weight training program many begineers will be pleasantly surprised with the overall change in their physical makeup. Your muscles will grow and your body will take on a whole new look. But here beginners especially have to be warned. Those who see an improvement in the first few weeks are so fascinated by the quick gain that they make the big mistake of augmenting their workouts leading to a retardation in muscle growth. The reason is too much of stress on the muscles. Thus the alternate day programme is a reasonable schedule. You can work out for 6 alternate days, at the end of which you can take a three-day period on the weekend off. No matter how good you feel, as you definitely will, do not break with this alternate day cycle. This schedule is recommended as the human body needs a minimum of 48 hours of rest between workouts to recover sufficiently from the rigours of a workout session. The rest gives the muscles time to adjust to the load put on them by increasing their mass.

It is very important to follow the proper exercise form for your success. Therefore it is crucial for you to read the descriptions carefully while visualising yourself doing the various exercises before getting down to the routine. It is advised that you start the program with moderate weights i.e. weights you can lift without any pain or strain. It is always better for you to start with lighter weights than with heavier ones. It is to be remembered that your muscles should be taught to get into a rhythm and not to overwork them by using weights they have never handled before. Also note that the weights should not be so light that you can do more than 20 reps with ease. But it should also be remembered that as you gain muscle and strength you should also progressively increase the weights used to exercise. For optimal muscle gain you should lift 60% to 70% of the maximum weight you can lift and you should be able to do not more than 20 reps at a time with them.

 Back to top | Back to Index | Home 

 Weightlifting Lingo

Now that you have decided to go in for a simple exercise routine it is important for you to know some weightlifting lingo. Following are some definitions:
Rep: Short for 'repetition'. It describes the contraction of a given muscle group against resistance from a starting position of full extension to a completed position of full contraction. You complete a rep by returning to the position you started at.
Set: A series of repetitions. After a set is completed it is the usual practise to take a break to help allow for the targeted muscle to recover.
Press: The movement that pushes the resistance (usually weights) away from the body with the limbs.
Curl: The movement that pulls the resistance (usually weights) toward the body with the limbs.
Poundage: The weight or resistance used for any given exercise.
Routine: The sum total of reps, sets and exercises in any given workout.

 Back to top | Back to Index | Home 

 Training Do's and Don'ts
The Weight Routine
1] SQUAT - 2 sets of 30 reps
2] PULLOVER - 2 sets of 15 reps
3] ROWS (Upright/Bent) - 2 sets of each, 15 reps
4] LATERAL RAISES - 2 sets of 15 reps
5] CURLS (90 Degree/ Hammer & Tricep Presses) - 1 set each of 30 reps
6] DEADLIFT - 2 sets of 30 reps
7] CRUNCHES - 2 sets of 20 reps
8] FOREARM TWISTS & WRIST CURLS - 2 sets each, 25 reps

Always keep in mind the following do's and don'ts -

 Back to top | Back to Index | Home 

 Muscle Groups

If you are going to work on your muscles, you need to know the right muscle terminology. The following list will give you a basic idea of the major muscle groups and the exercises that are the best suited for each. Given in the brackets are the abbreviations that are often used for these muscle groups.

Deltoids (Delts) - Point of each shoulder - Decline Push-ups and Lateral Raises.
Pectorals (Pecs) - Upper front of rib cage - Wide Decline Push-ups and Pullovers.
Brachialis (Brachy) - Side of upper arm - Hammer Curls and Wide Decline Push-ups.
Triceps (Tri's) - Back of upper arm - Wide Decline Push-ups, Tricep Presses and Tricep Dips.
Biceps (Bi's) - Front of upper arm - 90 Degree Curls.
Trapezius (Traps) - Upper back - Upright Rows.
Latissimus Dorsi (Lats) - Back muscles that give one a V-shaped appearance - Bent Rows.
Flexors (Forearm Flexors) - Inner forearm - Wrist Curls.
Outer Forearm (Forearm Extensors) - Outer forearm - Reverse Wrist Curls.
Rectus Abdominis (Abs) - Front abdomen - Crunches.
External/Internal Obliques (Obliques) - Sides of waist- Side Bends and Twists.
Gluteus Maximus (Glutes) - Buttocks - Deadlifts and Squats.
Quadriceps (Quads) - Front of thigh - Squats.
Hamstrings (Hams) - Rear of thigh - Deadlifts.
Soleus and Gastrocnemius (Calves) - Calves - Calf Raises.

 Back to top | Back to Index | Home 

 Warming Up/Down

It is always important for you to warm up thoroughly before you hit the weights. Warming up not only promotes flexibility of your joints, but it also lessens the risk of injury to muscle tissue.

You can do a warm-up by just jogging in place for 5 minutes until you get a sweat going, your heart rate up and your muscles warm.

You can add stretching exercises to your warm-up for 2 important things. Firstly, it will prepare your muscles for an increase in activity; secondly it will raise body temperature, which in turn will help to avoid sprains or cramps.

After any exercise session or sports competition, you also have to warm your body down. The rule of thumb calls for you to spend as much time warming down as you did warming up. All those muscles that have been exercised now need the time to readjust to their normal status. Otherwise they may tear or pull even though no further stress is placed on them.

 Back to top | Back to Index | Home 

 Balance Between Weights & Aerobics
Diet
• A diet that is composed of 60% carbohydrates, 25% protein and 15% fat is considered as well balanced.
• Starches like rice and potatoes supply the most efficient fuel for muscular work.
• Drink plenty of water while you exercise. Lack of water could increase your risk of injury as it could lead to fatigue.
• Excessive carbohydrates are bad for those leading a more sedentary life-style.
• Increase the amount of protein in your diet if you wish to lose weight and do not lead too active a life.
• Be careful of supplements like minerals and vitamins. They can prove to be toxic if taken in excessive doses. Avoid taking any weight gain supplements.

It is recommended for those who believe in sticking to a weight lifting routine alone, to participate in some kind of recreational-aerobic activity. The very word 'aerobic' means 'with oxygen'. In the aerobic system of exercise the body pumps in additional oxygen to enable the exercising muscles to perform. What such exercise does is to get oxygen - vital for energy production - to enter the body through being breathed in by the lungs. The oxygen is then distributed to the various working muscles via the blood. Thus this form or system of exercise is highly beneficial in increasing the stamina of the body as it increases the efficiency of the heart, lungs and the circulation system. Aerobics is practically synonymous with stamina. But if you participate in any recreational-aerobic sport activity, remember the following points:

 Back to top | Back to Index | Home 

 The Schedule

The exercise schedule is by itself self-sufficient as it gives you a thorough workout with and without weights. You can mix and match the exercises given to suit you best. As for what weights to use, it is best left to you to decide what serves you best. If you pick up a dumbbell and find that you can curl it 25 times when you planned to do a set of 15, you need heavier weights. But you should remember that with the weights you use, you should be able to do the exercises without any strain and with good form. For optimal muscle gain you should lift 60% to 70% of the maximum weight you can lift and you should be able to do not more than 20 reps at a time with them. You can purchase 2 pairs of dumbbells of 2 different weights, the heavier pair for workouts like Deadlifts and Squats.

The exercises should be performed without breaks in between. Immediately as you finish an exercise with weights, do some stretching exercises like side bends or perform situps. This is important as it keeps the pulse rate up, which will in turn help build up endurance and stamina. But when you take a breather, say after four different exercises, you can take up to ten minutes or more off before you hit the weights again. A longish break will help your body recover and grow better. This alternating routine of hectic exercise activity and longish breaks can help increase stamina as well as muscle bulk.

If you diligently stick to an alternate day routine you can skip doing some of the exercises with weights in each session. It is left to you do decide what is best for you. So go ahead and pump iron, you will definitely see and feel a change in a few weeks. All the best!!



* Disclaimer: The exercises and/or advice contained in this Fitness Page (site) might prove to be harmful or strenuous for some people due to various factors. Reader's are advised to consult a physician before beginning any fitness routine.
The author/webmaster of this Fitness Page is not in any way responsible whatsoever for any injury or health problems that might arise or occur after following the fitness routine detailed herein.

Updated on: 13th November 2007.