When I attended UA, I definitely took advantage of its state-of-the-art recreation center. Like many females, I would walk past the downstairs weight area, and head up to the cardio floor. Thursday nights were always busy on the cardio floor; almost every Precor machine’s ramps were set as high as they could, occupied by a sorority woman feverishly mountain climbing away calories before the weekend. Never did I consider leaving the busy cardio floor to do a weight lifting session: the weight room was a man’s world, I didn’t want to be bulky or big, and I didn’t know how to work any of those machines or how to properly lift weights.
My initial interest in weight lifting stemmed from physical therapy practices I was prescribed for my scoliosis. I would lift 3-pound weights with my arms in different positions within my shoulder sockets in order to strengthen the musculature around my back so that it could keep my back from reverting to its natural degree of curvature. After a few weeks of doing these light weight exercises for my back, I noticed my shoulders slightly broadening and my triceps becoming slightly defined. Just from working with 3-pound weights, I was seeing results that I enjoyed because they were different from the ones I receive from cardio.
These days, I have a weight routine I try to work in twice a week. I only work with five- and ten-pound weights because my focus is not on building huge muscles—my goal as a girly weight lifter is to maintain slight tone and muscle definition, as well as to train my muscles to maintain my alignment (this is a really important for any of my flexible yogis out there—sometimes we overstretch ourselves, and it is key to train our muscles to stabilize our skeletons throughout day to day wear and tear).
I recommend going to the weight room for the first time with a friend who is familiar with the equipment if you are afraid of misusing any of it. Working out with a companion can also be good for keeping up morale! I try to remember to pack gloves for lifting sessions (I got mine in the fitness section of Target) because sometimes my hands get blistered or too sweaty for a secure grip on the equipment. I always bring my headphones and listen to music during my weight room workouts because sometimes it is intimidating when it is crowded. Music helps me get into my own personal zone and forget the surrounding chaos. If the crowd is too much to handle, I recommend going for these workouts on weekday mornings—it tends to be an older bunch with a completely different gym agenda, so it is a little less scary.
Warm up: half mile on indoor track, forward fold stretches
Goblet squats with a 10-lb dumbbell: 4-6 sets of 10 reps
5-lb dumbbell lifts: 3-4 sets of 5 reps— wide-stance reverse flies, close-stance straight-arm lateral lifts, close-stance straight-arm anterior lifts, on hands and knees lawnmower style triceps pull-backs
Calf-press machine: 4 sets of 10 reps
Pull-up machine: 4 sets of 10 reps
Lateral oblique tilts with 5- to 10-lb bar: 4 sets of 8 reps
Abdominals: 200-300 crunches (variety of styles; a 30 second plank counts as 25 crunches)
Happy lifting, ladies!