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Newbie in the gym...help!

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Old 04-10-2012, 11:40 AM   #1
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Default Newbie in the gym...help!

I here recently got a gym membership so I could start working on different areas of my body using weights. I go to a gym that doesn't currently have any trainers there, just someone who can show you how things work (and make you jealous of how they look!). He showed me all of the machines yesterday and I got on a few with some light weight just to see how it felt. I need some serious help! When it comes to weight training I have no clue as to what to do. I need to lose a little over 80 more pounds but I don't want a bunch of loose skin (bat wings!) and I need a weight lossing boost. I carry all my weight in my rear and thighs, I always lose weight in my stomach first, so I need help getting smaller in that area too.

So here are the main questions I have:
1. What machines will really help me achieve my goal to tone and lose?
2. How much weight should I do? (I mainly did 10 and 25lbs yesterday and I don't really feel sore today)
3. How many reps of what should I do?

Any help would be awesome!!! And sorry if I'm kinda confusing or being a pain...
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Old 04-10-2012, 12:02 PM   #2
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I know that there will be others who are more versed in weight lifting that will respond but I wanted to say, great job joining a gym!!! I invested in a personal But there are really great books out there and advice on this forum that will help you out a lot/set up a program for you.

I recommend you buy a book like New Rules of Lifting for Women. I have this book and really like it. Also people on here like the book Starting Strength (don't know author). They have programs that you follow that will give you a well-rounded workout. If you read some of the old posts, there are some professionals that have made some really good suggestions!
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Old 04-10-2012, 12:15 PM   #3
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To answer your questions though:

1. the trainer that I worked with last fall had me to leg press, front dumbbell squats, weighted walking lunges, delt flys, chest press, shoulder press, lat pulldown, hack squats, rows, tricep kickbacks, bench step ups, etc...

2. Depends on the machine and what you can lift. Lat pulldown I started at one set of 65, one set of 70, one set of 65 reps; Leg press I started around 185, 190-195, 185; shoulder press 25, 30, 20; squats 35, 40, 45; walking lunges 20,25,15. etc...It really depends on what is heavy for you and what your goals are. Some people lift more reps at a lighter weight for endurance and others lift fewer reps at a heavier weight to build strength. The trainer I work with now focuses more on weight because I want to be able to do unassisted pullups, bench and squat more than a 100 lbs. This fall I was focused on weight loss and so my trainer worked on giving me a cardio workout while building strength and endurance. So few breaks, four different exercises (machines or dumbbells) three sets of 12 reps each. Then I would do another group of four different exercises, three sets of 12 reps each. Hopefully that makes sense.

3. Sort of answered this above. 5-8 to build strength, 12-15 to build endurance and 8-12 to work on both is what my trainer told me. Two to three sets of each exercise.

This is why a book will help you out so much. It will tell you what exercises you should be doing, how many reps, how many sets. The weights depend on what you can lift. If you are doing 20 lbs on the lat pulldown, that is probably really light? But it might be really heavy for shoulder press.
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Old 04-10-2012, 12:29 PM   #4
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hi!

i know my way well around a gym. sets and reps as already advised is excellent - don't go more than 15 for small and 12 for large because the results aren't worth the effort invested.

nobody can tell you what weight to use - you have to find out for yourself and yeah, it can take a bit of time.

basically, let's say you want to do 8-12. then the weight you choose should allow you to do 8, 9, 10, 11, or 12 reps ***and no more*** - not a single one more, no way, not gonna happen.

exercise-wise, don't bother with isolation exercises like bicep curls, hamstring curls, abs, etc - again, you're workin teeny little muscles and the time spent working those muscles will not give you a decent return.

for now, concentrate on large movements that work whole muscle groups.

examples:

squat
bench press
deadlift
(these are the Kings of exercises - doing nothing but these - properly! - will give you a great body)

lunges
lat pulls
rows
leg press
shoulder press

these are all good exercises that use large movements and many muscles.

you'll hear a lot of ppl tell you you have to alter foot stance, grip, etc in order to work "this" part of the muscle or "that" - it's not true. it's not possible to work one part of the muscle over the rest - ie, doing squinky little half-arsed bicep curls will not build "the central mass" of the muscle and give you "a great peak". muscles fire - or they don't. it's an all-or-nothing deal and if you start worrying about changing foot angles and grips and whether or not your upper pecs are getting enough stimulation, you'll get confused and lost in no time.

you also need rest - your muscles don't respond while being worked. they grow and develop in response to being worked. you're not getting tighter abs and a sexier curve to your thighs in the gym itself - that all happens while you're sleeping and resting the muscles over the next three days.

summary:

- enough food to support muscle repair and growth
- large-muscle-group exercises, don't bother with isolation work for a while
- good weight - not too heavy, not too light
- minimum 3 days between workouts of the same muscles

Last edited by threenorns : 04-10-2012 at 12:30 PM.
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Old 04-10-2012, 12:34 PM   #5
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congrats on the gym membership

Check out oxygen magazine's website. Don't be put off or discouraged by the women there - they are professional weight/fitness people. You will find sequences that use the machines that are in the gym, and they also have good nutritional advise, too.
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Old 04-10-2012, 02:11 PM   #6
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Congrats! The book recommendations are great. Many will recommend NROL4W, I personally am a bigger fan of Starting Strength (Mark Rippetoe is the author).

The best advice I can give is to mostly skip the machines and try out the dumbbells and barbells. Focus on compound lifts as mentioned above that work many muscle groups (including stabilizers) at the same time. Once you've got your form down, keep adding weight. Your losses on the scale may be slow at first, but that's only because your body is recompositioning (I think I just made that word up... ). Heavy weights will melt the fat off of you if you're eating at a calorie deficit, but what is considered "heavy" is different from person to person.
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Old 04-11-2012, 01:27 PM   #7
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Oxygen magazine is great! Everyone's advice is great but I forgot one thing...if you use a barbell to bench press, you really need a spotter but you can use a Smith Machine at the gym when working on your own.

My weight loss was really slow the first three weeks (as in non-existant) and when I started doing cardio intervals and got my eating more under control the weight literally started flying off. It's almost been 8 months since I started lifting and I love it. Sometimes I wish I could do it everyday but the advice of lifting every other day is really important. If you don't let your muscles recover, you could end up injured (which is no fun!).
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Old 04-11-2012, 01:53 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jenjulia View Post
Oxygen magazine is great! Everyone's advice is great but I forgot one thing...if you use a barbell to bench press, you really need a spotter but you can use a Smith Machine at the gym when working on your own.
Even better than the Smith machine would be to use dumbells. You could do the presses lying down, sitting at an incline, or standing up. That way all your core muscles are engaged as well, AND you won't let your weaker arm off the hook by allowing the stronger to cover for it.
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Old 04-11-2012, 10:22 PM   #9
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Thanks for the help! I noticed tonight when I was doing some of the machines that my left arm was trying to do a little more work that the right. The dumbells scare me. I'm afraid I wont use them right. I want to use them but I don't want everyone looking at me thinking, "Wow, that fat chick doesn't know what the heck she's doing."
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Old 04-11-2012, 10:51 PM   #10
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Nah, they won't stare at you. They might even help.

Try these:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-aVuyhvLHU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYcpY20QaE8 (Don't be afraid to grab heavy dumbbells for these--you want to engage your back muscles.)

Have fun!
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Old 04-12-2012, 12:40 AM   #11
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Everyone starts somewhere. Really! It takes a little time and patience but you will get stronger and leaner. There are days I feel like I'm working both arms evenly on machines,dumbbells,and the barbell and days where I'm not as able to...I think it takes practice and patience. I'm still quite a newbie myself!

To be honest, when I started at the gym I couldn't hardly look at myself in the mirroror even at the trainer I was working with. I was so self conscious. Still am. But I am much more comfortable now.I think that pretty much everyone at the gym started somewhere and if they notice you,they are happy you are there. That being said....usually everyone (including myself) is focused on their own workout and "zoned" out. So don't worry!!!
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Old 04-12-2012, 12:52 AM   #12
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I do 4 sets of 12

Set 1 - Stability ball Crunches - 5 lb dumbell behind my head. 12 reps
Set 2 - V Ups - Take the stability ball and place it between your ankles, bring your arms up and meet in the middle and grab the ball. Lower the ball to the ground. Lift the ball up and part the legs and grasp the ball with your ankles - 12 reps - Move back to set 1. Do these each 4 times. Then I will move on t what ever other move is on my list for the day. This works for me. it gives me enough work out and a rest in between each movement so I don't get shaky and start to hurt.
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Old 04-12-2012, 10:01 AM   #13
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Not to be the bearer of bad news, but newer research shows that crunches and the like are really bad for your spine. You are better off doing planks.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/newswee...on-t-work.html
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Old 04-12-2012, 10:07 AM   #14
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Really, if you're doing the big lifts, your abs will pretty much fall in line. Visible tight abs are more about obtaining a low body fat percentage than doing tons of ab work.

ETA: Not to say that planks aren't good. Developing core strength will help in your other lifts. I'm just saying don't focus on them to the exclusion of something else.
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Old 04-12-2012, 10:20 AM   #15
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Quote:
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Really, if you're doing the big lifts, your abs will pretty much fall in line. Visible tight abs are more about obtaining a low body fat percentage than doing tons of ab work.

ETA: Not to say that planks aren't good. Developing core strength will help in your other lifts. I'm just saying don't focus on them to the exclusion of something else.
Agreed. Except I would emphasize that planks are a really great exercise that work your entire body and help you to develop core stability. I'd throw planks into whatever workout I was doing, but there's no need to obsess over 'abs' at the expense of all the other muscles.
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