Why and how to lift weights to get results
Are your workouts aligned with your goals? Really, are you getting the results you want?
There are so many different ways to workout these days, that it can be pretty overwhelming. Should I do Spin? CrossFit? Run? Yoga? Lift? HIIT classes? HALP.
Just as with nutrition, there’s no “one true way” to get your sweat on. And I absolutely believe that whatever it is you’re doing should be enjoyable. If your workouts are boring or create stress in your life, then you’re probably not getting the best results, no matter how good the program is on paper.
ANYWAY. That being said, I see waaaayy too often that people are religiously following a workout regimen that’s not really getting them closer to their goals. While fitness classes and other programs can be fun, I also believe your workout ought to help you build the body you love and improve the quality of your life (if that’s something you want, of course)!
Name your goal and align your workout strategy with it
Do you want to have a leaner, more toned physique? More visible abs? Bigger bootay? Do you want to feel stronger and more connected with your body?
What’s your goal? Name it. Say it out loud. Is it physique related? Cool. Do you feel awkward saying you want to build your best body? Don’t. Own that. You have a body. You have every right to feel rockin' in your body.
If you’re picking up what I’m putting down — what we’re really talking about here is building muscle. The way we change our shape is by increasing muscle size in certain areas. Fat loss alone will not create the “toned” look you’re going for if you’re not already lifting weights. And even if you’re set on fat loss as your only goal, lifting weights can help with that too.
Fat loss alone will not create the “toned” look you’re going for if you’re not already lifting weights.
So then, does your workout routine focus on building muscle? Are you lifting weights at least 2-3 times per week? If not, let’s get started!
How to lift weights to see progress each week:
How do you know if your lifting workout really did anything? Is is based on the level of soreness? How often should you change exercises?
The quickest, most predictable way to get to where you want to go is..... repetition, kinda. Sounds boring. But hear me out. Exercise in general changes our bodies and our conditioning, but how does this work?
If you think about it from a survival standpoint, our bodies are constantly adapting to challenging situations so we can handle them with more ease in the future (that is, if challenging situations exist). Once your body adapts to a stimulus (each workout is an opportunity to provide stimulus to the body) we can challenge ourselves even MORE next time so that we keep getting stronger, or faster, or build more muscle.
So if you’re trying to create steady progress in the same direction (which is usually the case with any goal), you can think of it like a staircase, where each workout builds on top of the previous one as you climb your way to your goal. With each workout, you have an opportunity to communicate with your body how you want it to change.
With each workout, you have an opportunity to communicate with your body how you want it to change.
But if you’re always doing new exercises every time you’re in the gym, it’s like constantly starting a new task without finishing any of them. You may feel like you’re being productive, but you don’t really end up accomplishing anything. That’s exhausting.
If you’re always doing new exercises every time you’re in the gym, it’s like constantly starting a new task without finishing any of them.
This is where the idea of repetition comes in. Maybe you’ve heard of people having a “lifting routine.” This is typically a series of workouts (anywhere from 2-8 workouts) that are repeated several times over the course of a few weeks. Keep the exercises the same, and you can really start to make some notable progress in one direction.
And here’s the fun part. You’re not just repeating the same old workouts over and over without ANY changes. Each time you repeat a workout, you’re either going heavier with the weight, squeezing out an extra rep or two, or completing all of the work in less time. So basically, you should be going into each session with the EXPECTATION of progress (aka gains). Now that’s fun!
People say “fall in love with the process”, right? With lifting, it’s this process of continual improvement that is so appealing for many. The process of setting a goal, creating a program to reach the goal, and then achieving it! The reason I enjoy it as much as I do is because I feel like I’m constantly working towards something. And I’m often seeing the direct results each time I go into the gym.
All that being said, you can’t repeat the same workouts forever and continue to progress in a linear fashion. After a few weeks (this timeframe varies quite a bit depending on how long you’ve been training), you’ll likely hit a plateau with your current rotation of workouts.
A plateau typically means that for multiple weeks in a row, you aren’t able to increase the number of reps you complete or increase the weight lifted.
This is where a planned, purposeful progression comes in. There are many ways you can adjust workout variables to avoid a plateau or over-training. Examples of variables you can manipulate: exercise selection, target rep range, tempo or speed at which you lift, rest time, number of sets, or even hand/foot position. And this is where the art and science of workout programming comes in, because how you change those variables shouldn’t be random, either.
Workout programming is an art and a science around designing workouts [typically lifting routines] that produce predictable results.
Workouts can be random and fun, or they can be intentional and purposeful (and even more fun?). Neither is right or wrong, but if you’re serious about getting specific results, a well-designed program will be the first step.
You don't have to be an athlete or body builder, powerlifter, or any type of competitor at all to follow a lifting program. You, yes YOU, deserve to get the results you want from your workout. And it’s easier than ever with the amount of online programs and online coaches that there are available to work with.
(Perfect opportunity to mention that I am working on creating easy-to-follow workout plans to help you build the body you love. Stay tuned.)
For more info on how to use lifting to reach your goals, download my free Ebook "6 Essentials of Fitness."