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Fear and Loathing in the Gym

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Old 06-24-2008, 09:23 AM   #1
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Default Fear and Loathing in the Gym

I am a little overwhelmed with this new inspiration and so I am posting a new thread because I am not sure what I am looking for.

Alright...deep breath

Let me try to say this precisely! I am such a rambler.

I've been going to the gym consistantly for about a year. There's been a few weeks here and there that I have needed to take off for injury. I (like a lot of people I am sure) have a bad back and bad knees....but for the most part I go about 4 times a week. For the first 9 months I saw no difference in energy or weight loss. It wasn't until I got serious about my food intake that I saw a difference in weight loss. However, I don't feel the "energized" I usually hear people talk about. I am still sore in my knees, back, neck....joints almost every day. So, I thought maybe I should focus on my muscles and making those stronger.

The thing is....I am usually at the gym alone. I don't have the funding for personal training and strength training and even stretching at the end of a workout is entering in to very alien territory for me. I know they probably aren't really...but I feel like the trainees and stretchies are looking at me weird when I venture on over to their side of the gym.

I am not sure where to begin. I have done some research but is there a good beginners regimine that will help me on my way? I want to do free weights. I feel like messing around with the machines takes up too much time (With settings and height adjustments). Sorry if this is a duplicate post....

I want to be energized! I don't want to wake up sore and stiff. I am only 32! I feel 82. (and I am sure some octogenarians are more limber even)
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Old 06-24-2008, 10:11 AM   #2
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I learned tons from Jillian Michaels' book "Winning by Losing". It has 12 weeks worth of workouts (and explanations of how to do the exercises safely)- you will probably need to modify a bit for your sore spots. Have you had them looked at by a doctor? You might also want to look into just a couple sessions with a trainer - just to check your form. It would really suck to injure something permanently.

I totally hear you about food being paramount - I can work out like a fiend but if the nutrition isn't there...

Also check out the stickies at the top of the Exercise forum - tons of tips and sites to check out.
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Old 06-24-2008, 10:19 AM   #3
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I hate to say that you may be spinning your wheels... but you may be spinning your wheels.

There are some good books that go over exercises but really if you have never had good guidance on weight training, then you can risk injury. Even if you don't have money for a personal trainer, I would recommend scraping up a few bucks to buy a few personal training sessions. Someone who knows that you'd want to use the free weights, want to know how to use weights properly and will help you get started on a program.

As for websites, stumptuous.com is always highly recommended. The New Rules of Weight Lifting for Women is an excellent book with a complete 6 month exercise program. The book/websites can give you guidance but really if you have never had someone show you proper form, I think it is important to get that first.
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Old 06-24-2008, 10:29 AM   #4
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The New Rules of Lifting for Women would be a nice start. It seems to me it ramps up so that by the end you are challenging yourself more than at the beginning - but i haven't started it yet as I figured it would be my postpartum workout.
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Old 06-24-2008, 10:36 AM   #5
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From the amount of soreness and joint pain you described, it sounds like you have a lot of imbalances that need to be addressed before you start training heavy. You need to find out which muscles have become tight and overactive and which muscles have become weak and inhibited, so that you can plan your exercises in a way to restore balance. If you just jump right in now, it is more likely that you will reinforce these imbalances instead of correcting them.

My best advice would be to start asking around and try to find a good personal trainer who has an excellent reputation for assessing imbalances and postural distortions and designing programs to fit your personal needs. A good place to start would be to call some high school or college coaches in your area and aske them who they send their athletes to. While you are gathering this information, save up some money to get his assessment and a starter program for you. Ideally, at least one or two more sessions to demonstrate the basic exercises in your program and check your form, but if that's not financially doable, then stick with at least a good assessment.

If you don't think you can even afford that, then my next suggestion would be to purchase two books. 1. Athletic Body in Balance by Gray Cook. This will allow you to do several assessments on yourself and give you some methods to fix what you find. 2. Core Performance by Mark Verstegen. This book is a total program. Not just the strength portion, but you are going to get movement prep (mobility drills which it sounds like you need a lot of), core work, and regeneration (stretching and soft tissue work, again which it sounds like you need a lot of). I would also, go to t-nation (I know the photos on the site might put a woman off, but some of the information is too valuable so try to get past that) and read everything by Eric Cressey, Mike Robertson, and Tony Gentilcore. In your position, I would start with Cressey and Robertson's 5 part combined effort Neanderthal No More http://www.t-nation.com/findArticle.do?article=314nean2. This will also help you find some postural distortions that could be leading to your imbalances and joint pains.

Last edited by Depalma : 06-24-2008 at 10:43 AM.
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Old 06-24-2008, 11:46 AM   #6
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some gyms will let you meet with a trainer for free just to learn how to set up the machines and use them properly so you don't get hurt. It wouldn't hurt to ask if that is an option.
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Old 06-24-2008, 12:35 PM   #7
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Chick in the hat brought up Jillian Michaels. I have one of her dvds, 30-Day Shred. There is a great support thread under Fitness Videos section. It is great and helped me jumpstart a plateau. Good luck!
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Old 06-24-2008, 01:02 PM   #8
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I third the recommendation of New Rules of LIfting for Women. There's also a message board associated with the book - I don't hang there since I prefer the atmosphere here but I do use it for reference when I need to.

There are also videos online of the various moves and exercises in the book that provide a great reference.

I also will second (or third, whichever it is) the idea of scraping together a bit of money for a personal trainer consult. Call first and tell them that you are NOT looking for a long term training, but that you have very specific things that you'd like to learn from them. Explain your exact situation and let them know that you're willing to pay for an hour or two of their time to teach you to do certain things correctly ... but that you are NOT in any way looking for a long term training plan. A good trainer will help you out and be willing to work with you like that - knowing that if he/she does, at some point you'll probably come back for more when you're ready.

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Old 06-24-2008, 01:08 PM   #9
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I have the same feeling of confusion with weight training at the gym too and I, too, can't afford a personal trainer. I began investing in weight training DVDs and working out to them at home (with free weights purchased at Modell's). I find that I am seeing better results this way than I ever did while doing strength training at the gym. I still do cardio at the gym 3 - 4 days a week, but I prefer working out with weights at home.
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Old 06-26-2008, 01:27 PM   #10
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Me too, I'm thinking about joining a gym but I'll keep my weight training at home - that was my decision after visiting a gym about to open. I'll do cardio there, my 20-30 min Body for Life blasts. I'm comfortable enough at home weight training, I DON'T like mirrors or people looking at me, I just don't. I also like the dvd's at home too, some are quite intense.
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Old 06-26-2008, 01:50 PM   #11
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Quote:
I DON'T like mirrors
I know mirrors can be intimidating, but they are REALLY good for watching your form and making sure you're doing a move right. I cannot weight lift w/out mirrors to make sure that I'm not losing form - especially near the end of a series of reps when I'm tired.



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Old 06-26-2008, 03:48 PM   #12
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I might be asking a silly question but do you stretch? That might be one of the reasons you are still feeling sore. My 15 yr old son is a ski racer and he was having trouble with sore muscles. I took him to a physiotherapist and it all came down to muscles that were too tight- particularly hamstrings. The solution was a series of stretches to do every day. Before and after workouts. Maybe???

The only other thing is I couldn't tell if you are just doing weight training or cardio as well from your post. I find that it is the cardio workout that ends up making me feel energized. But the energy does not last all day, I feel it mainly for the next couple of hours. I think it is different when you aren't trying to lose weight at the same time- our bodies must be exhausted by the workouts and having to find an energy source that is not as easily available as it once was.
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Old 06-26-2008, 05:06 PM   #13
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Jillian Michaels, during the Level 1 warm up of the 30 day shred, says something like before a workout, you should do dynamic stretching -- meaning stretching with movements -- and then static stretches after the workout. I was also reading somewhere that static stretching before a workout can actually "tell" your muscles to weaken, rather than strengthen, when under stress. I will try to find the article. But in any event, stretching IS important.


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Originally Posted by lifechange View Post
I might be asking a silly question but do you stretch? That might be one of the reasons you are still feeling sore. My 15 yr old son is a ski racer and he was having trouble with sore muscles. I took him to a physiotherapist and it all came down to muscles that were too tight- particularly hamstrings. The solution was a series of stretches to do every day. Before and after workouts. Maybe???

The only other thing is I couldn't tell if you are just doing weight training or cardio as well from your post. I find that it is the cardio workout that ends up making me feel energized. But the energy does not last all day, I feel it mainly for the next couple of hours. I think it is different when you aren't trying to lose weight at the same time- our bodies must be exhausted by the workouts and having to find an energy source that is not as easily available as it once was.
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Old 06-26-2008, 05:09 PM   #14
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Ha ha -- yeah, mirrors and other people can $uck lol, but the reason I like strength training at home is that I'm *SO* bad at inventing routines that will evenly work all the muscle groups -- I've tended to ignore my legs, for instance, and my back, bc those muscles were more uncomfortable for me to work than bi-ceps, etc., but the trainers in the DVDs expect you to work IT ALL, so all you do is follow them and worry about correct form and about really concentrating on working the muscle you're focusing on. AND I wind up doing really challenging moves (for me) like squats that I would *NEVER* do under my own volition.


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Originally Posted by horsey View Post
Me too, I'm thinking about joining a gym but I'll keep my weight training at home - that was my decision after visiting a gym about to open. I'll do cardio there, my 20-30 min Body for Life blasts. I'm comfortable enough at home weight training, I DON'T like mirrors or people looking at me, I just don't. I also like the dvd's at home too, some are quite intense.
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Old 06-26-2008, 08:36 PM   #15
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I agree with a couple of the other posters about stretching. Based on your original post, it sounds like you aren't stretching at all or very little and that could definitely be a big factor in your soreness. If I don't stretch properly after doing cardio, my back hurts, my hip hurts, my legs hurt, I can barely move. If I stretch properly, nothing hurts (unless I've overdone it). I still get sore from lifting weights sometimes, but rarely from cardio so long as I stretch afterwards. Since personal training is going to be a stretch for you financially, it would be worth adding 10 or 15 min of stretching to the end of your workout to see if that helps before investing in a trainer. If you are really uncomfortable stretching at the gym, do it at as soon as you get home from the gym (although it is better to do it as soon as you finish your workout). All you needs a floor mat (which you can probably pick up for $15 somewhere).

I think Self.com is a great source for beginner strength training exercises. It's free and the nice thing about it is that they have videos of each exercise, so you can see what proper form looks like. It's really hard to get that from a picture in a book.
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