Weight and Resistance Training - How much progress can I reasonably expect?




Rock Chalk Chick
02-25-2009, 11:17 AM
Ok, so I'm in kind of worst-case scenario situation.

I'm a former "fat athlete" - I've always been on the chubby side, but was very active through high school and into college, and off and on since then. Over the last couple years, however, I've been essentially inactive, especially on the lifting side of things. (Basically mentioning this to explain that I know how to lift and do it safely... but I'm practically a beginner as far as current lifting status).

So, with all sorts of excuses (I refuse to call them "reasons" - it's a matter of priority), I've been inactive and eating poorly over the last few years. I finally hit my wall and started making the proper changes that I know I should around the end of January, and I've been eating well, easing back into running/swimming (mixed with cardio machines when needed), and have dropped the first 15 pounds in the last month. I'm feeling good and ready to keep going (though I realize that the weight loss will/should slow down!)

I've been planning to add weight-training back in, but I've now got a big boost to get going on it. I'm getting married May 9, and discovered last night that I have a definite roll of back flab that bulges over my bra (though I spent most of the weekend finding the best-fitting, most smoothly/non-bulge-enhancing strapless bra I could get!). This is the area that will be exposed at/above the line of the dress, which means it's not something that can be adjusted by spanx or other shapewear stuff.

So, to get to the point - I've got 10 weeks until the wedding. I know that, while the layer of subcutaneous fat isn't going to magically disappear, building up the back muscles underneath can help smooth out that line and make things look better. And I'm coming across some claims that arm/shoulder muscles can make some real progress in a short time. But I'm just curious about real people's experiences - how long does/did it take you to see progress/definition, especially when first starting out?

Any specific tips on this area? I'm certainly not going to exclude the rest of my body when lifting, but I want to be sure to get the best back experience I can. My plans are to continue with the healthy habits I've started (moderate healthy eating, increasing "life" activity and alternating running/swimming in the mornings), but add weight-training, lifting "real" weights with good form (i.e. not the 3-pound dumbbell rows I came across on a "bridal workout" website), and making sure I get in rows and pulldowns in my upper-body days. I'm planning on a pretty standard approach - 3 sets of 8-12, working to fatigue, alternating upper/lower body days. Any other good upper-back lifts I'm not familiar with?

Any comments or suggestions at all? Can I make a visible difference in 10 weeks' time? Anything I should change/tweak?


FB
02-25-2009, 05:47 PM
I don't often post in this area, but have been very dedicated with weights for a little while now, I apologize in advance if my advice/experience differs from the more experienced lifters and trainers here.

Yes, in my opinion in 10 weeks you could undergo an incredible transformation with careful attention paid to your diet, and at the gym consistency, dedication and the motivation of the wedding. A lot of people find a 'honeymoon' period when beginning or restarting weights and are able to build a lot of mass quickly when compared to a more experienced lifter.

I started seeing differences RIGHT AWAY with lifting, like two weeks. I still can find huge differences after changing my routine. I still mostly lift in the heavy 4-8 rep range, so I can't offer advice or opinions on the higher reps. I split by parts, because I enjoy spending my time at the gym lifting weights (about 6 days per week) and mostly just dedicate a day to one part, with abs everyday. Everyone's routine and beliefs are so different, I'm sure yours will work great for you if you work it!

You could train your back with priority, meaning to work it first before the rest of your upper body routine - use more exercises for that than your other parts. I'm all about being visually balanced and symmetrical, so you wouldn't want to necessarily do that all of the time. A built back won't look right if the other parts are undeveloped.

Some back exercises I use and can think of off the top of my tired head are:
Lat Pulldown close and wide grips, Pullups, Seated Row, Standing Low Row, Barbell or Dumbbell Row, Cable Straight Arm Pushdown, Dumbbell or Machine Pullovers, Shrugs (for traps/upper back), Good Mornings and Deadlifts - which are also rocking for legs. There are more I use (I don't do all those at once in a single workout), but I'm tired today!

Personally, I find that lifting burns more than cardio when I'm focused and excited! I've compared with my HRM and it's an unbelievable difference.

sportmom
02-25-2009, 06:31 PM
I think in general, you won't see anything different from the weight lifting if you're still carrying a large % of bodyfat. You are at about where I started, so I'm guessing you are probably in the high 30's to 40's range on bf%. If not, please don't be insulted, I'm just making a guess. So your primary focus will be to cardio yourself to the most efficiency max use to get the fat going. Eating clean will also help you look less puffy. You've got a great start so just don't let up. I would lift heavy, cardio religiously and eat clean. That's your best shot. You can go to a site like bodyforlife-tracker.com to see some of the profile photos there to see what is possible in 10-12 weeks. No doubt you will look better if you stick to your program, and that's the only goal, right - improvement over where you are now as you cannot change the past. Good luck!


FB
02-25-2009, 06:40 PM
Respectfully, I started lifting at 231 pounds and noticed those differences right off! My body fat was measured that first day at 35.4%. Looking over old records I see I dropped 20 pounds even in the next ten weeks. Admittedly, I never take days off, always stick to plan/lifestyle.

I also put serious time into cardio back then, but lifting took priority once I started.