Friday, 1 August 2014

The End of My 1st Week Lifting

So I’m one week in to this new lifting program and so far… I’m exhausted!

I think every muscle in my body aches, I fall asleep on the sofa by about 9pm and it hurts to move! 
But surely that just means it’s working?! In all seriousness, I expected the aches, the sleepiness I think is probably my body adjusting and I’m hoping I will adjust with a bit of time.

I have done 5 workouts in total. I started last Friday and have completed 4 this week too.

Help with understanding the lifting exercises

If you’re anything like me you may need help with your program for beginners lifting. I found two very handy resources:

  • The beginners program from It gives you the science but also lays out a plan you can follow. It’s Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and only 5 or 6 exercises per day. 
  • This handy printable option from
    If you are a beginner the names of the exercises aren’t going to be much help to you. I was left reading through things and then googling to see what that exercise was – if you haven’t lifted before then a ‘dumbbell lateral raise’ is going to tell you nothing about what you actually have to do. In the middle of the gym, you don’t want to be googling what an exercise is.

     This website allows you to create your workouts by dragging and dropping in the different exercises and it shows you graphically what the exercise is. Fantastic idea! 

Below is an example of one of my days from Simply Shredded website put into WorkoutLabs website printable format. I carry it with me into the gym for the right day and mark off what I’ve done with the date so I know which week I’m in and when to move up.

One thing I have found really useful is to write the amount of weight on the sheet as well. It takes trial and error at first as each lifting exercise you’ll be lifting a different weight depending on the muscle and the type of weight you’re lifting. If I can complete the first rep too easily I immediately move up the weight before completing the set. The last one in the set should be a struggle and the last reps of the last set should be nearly impossible.

At the end of the workout, once I’ve got my weights next to each exercise, I’ve been putting a little arrow next to the ones I think I can go up a weight on next time. So far the Friday one is the only one I’ve repeated and having the arrow was really helpful to know what to try the second time round.

My learnings from my first week of lifting

I have been surprised to discover that I miss cardio. I’ve been doing 15 minutes treadmill as a warm up before starting the weights each day – running on arms days and walking on legs days. I also did a 40 minute run on the rest day on Wednesday, but I’d like to start doing a bit more before the weights I think.

I am finding, even though the exercises are alternated that I am not quite recovered by the time I have to exercise that part again. For example, it takes over 2 days for my muscles to stop aching, but on the third day I have to exercise that muscle again. I’m not sure if this is because I’m just starting out or if that’s supposed to be the case and you don’t let them fully recover. Either way, I’m sticking with it! So it was Monday – arms, Tuesday – legs, Thursday – arms, Friday – legs. But on Tuesday my legs were still aching and on Thursday my arms were still aching. Right now the whole of me aches!

I have found that I want to carry on. I’m looking around for what else there is in the gym that I can try. I workout in the mornings and I’ve also discovered that on my way home from work, I also quite fancy doing another workout, which I have never in my life thought before. I’m not sure this will last! It also may just be my impatience!

One element I was disappointed with

I had one issue with one of the exercises this week where the pull up machine broke the day before I was due to use it. I was hugely disappointed to be honest as I was quite looking forward to the pull ups! Women doing pull ups look incredibly fit (as in fitness not attractive – I can’t judge the latter) and that is where I would like to get to.

Also with pull ups, I don’t really understand how you can start off with pull ups? I have never done a pull up in my life but I’m now expected to do 3 sets of 10 reps? Not realistic. The supported pull up machine will help me get to doing pull ups but in a realistic time frame. 

Next week’s lifting plan

My plan for the coming week is:

  • To run on the rest days to get my cardio up a bit.
  • To continue with the weights plan but keep pushing the weight up where I can.
  • To try and do a bit more cardio before the weights each day.
  • To hopefully get a chance to do some assisted pull ups if the machine is working!

I’ve been doing well food wise, following Paleo except for Tuesday after fat club, where I have my cheat night. Judging by the scales since Tuesday, I’m not in for a loss so I might need to revisit the extent I cheat on cheat night. 

Anyway, happy lifting

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Day 1 of Lifting Like a Girl!

Well not really day 1 as this was sort of playing at it.

I used an old barbell workout program for girils I found on pinterest which I had used before with low weights and I used heavier weights.

Understanding the weight you should lift as a beginner

This for me, was about seeing what weight I should start with. As a beginner nobody tells you how much you should be lifting (especially as a woman). So you have to use a little trial and error to be honest.

The workout I did is below but I did all the exercises from workout 1 and 2 today 5 (exercises) x 5 (reps) x 5 (sets).
I started off with the 15 barbell. I did the first set easily so I knew straight away that this was too light. I tentatively crept back into the men’s side of the gym to get the next weight up (17.5) and scurried back to my safe side of the gym!

The 17.5 was better but still not enough of a challenge, I again completed the whole set easily. I couldn’t face going back to the scary side of the gym so instead I carried on with the 17.5 but rather than doing 5 reps of each exercise per set, I upped it to 8.

The last set was really hard but still doable.

So I know I need to up the weight quite a bit next time in order to feel close to failure on the last rep of each exercise. The flip side of this is that I am currently using the readymade barbells, but they only go up to 20, so if I’m going up to 22.5 or 25 then it means I need to use the proper weights with a bar and separate weights.

Before starting weight lifting - be prepared

My learnings from today:
  • I am massively intimidated by the men’s free-weights side of the gym. I am quite a confident person ordinarily, but in this situation I’m not. I need to get over that!
  • This workout program is going to give me a good idea of the weights I need to use and I did build up a sweat, but it’s not enough to get me to where I want to go, so I need to look at a more intensive program like or 
  • To do some of the exercises in that program I need to learn how to use some of the equipment in the gym which I don’t usually venture near. For example, I would like to do pull-ups but I don’t think I would even be able to do one currently. I need to get someone to show me the pull up machine initially whilst I build my strength up and also show me correct form for the exercises. That means booking a program and telling someone that I am going to start lifting weights. That’s a bit scary!

Daily goals for a healthier life

Aims today:
  1. Drink two litres of water (not including the water in the gym)
  2. Only eat the food I brought with me to work – no cheating (that is 3 mini paleo quiches with an almond flour crust, a banana, 10 almonds, a tuna salad for lunch)
  3. Do a weights day at the gym
Happy lifting :)

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Making the Decision to Lift Like a Girl!

I’ve made the decision to start lifting. I’ve been following a Paleo diet for a while now, initially I lost a lot of weight but lately I have been really struggling to lose anything. So I revisited my workouts.

I’ve been heavily focussing on cardio – 30 minutes a day, either running or on the cross trainer or stepper. I hate running, but previously it did work in helping me to lose weight, so I persevere. I am not fast and I do not have much stamina, I am also not fit! These things combined mean I’m not good on the treadmill. I’m not a ladylike gym-goer, I sweat and I was once told I run like a duck. You’re building a pretty flattering picture of me right now aren’t you?!

But with the lack of weight loss recently I looked into whether there was an alternative I could do with my workouts.

Everywhere I looked said that women should be lifting. Not just the little pink rubber 1kg dumbells you see in the girly section of the gym but lifting heavy weights just like men. I read more and more about how women would have to take a massive amount of steroids to bulk up, which is obviously  a huge concern for most women who are looking to lose weight not get bigger.

Research on lifting weights for women

The more I read and researched, the more benefits I saw, I won’t repeat them here but here are some of the resources I used which helped to convince me this was the right path:

A few things to understand before you start lifting

A few watchouts I’ve realised:
  1. Your body weight may not change at all. Some of the women’s stories show a dress size change of about 3-4 (downwards) but their weight may have only changed by around 5lbs. I think as my starting weight is quite high, I should expect to lose weight, but as I get towards a healthier weight it may not change significantly.
  2. To get really ripped takes years. But you can make a difference in a short amount of time. I don’t have much time (I get married in 7 months) so I just need to do as much as possible in the time I have, which means getting dedicated to this approach (sticking with it) and making time to do it (getting up earlier to fit in more at the gym).
Wish me luck :)