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How should I start?


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Hi all,

 

I'm new to the gym. I've spent my whole life until now being a vegan/vegetarian weakling. Now I want to change that.

 

Apart from losing the fat off my bum and knees, I'd like to build the muscle on my shoulders and my upper body.

 

I am a 5'8" 26-year-old female and I currently weigh just under 54kg. I have basically NO muscle on my shoulders and poor lifting strength above shoulder level.

 

How should I begin? Push myself to my absolute limits or build up gradually? How many times a week/reps should I be doing?

 

Sorry if this is basic stuff but it's a completely different world to what I've known. I wish you could see how weedy the tops of my upper arms and my shoulders really are. I've never seen anything like it on other people!

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Hi Madeleine, haha I've never heard the term weedy before. You should definitely post up some pics and do a before and after thread in the forum. Also a good place to go for ideas are the training journals. Search around a little for people that seem like beginners. You can also try using the search in the upper right of the forum and searching key words like beginner, starting out, newbie, etc and I bet you'll find some others you can relate with and see what they are doing or were doing when they started out. You'll get the best respond if you post questions to other people's threads rather than just posting general questions on your own here.

 

-Dylan

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I use stronglifts.com for a lot of my muscle building info

Ignore their diet info though..

 

It may sound funny at first, but squatting/deadlifting (get a personal trainer to learn these safely) releases hormones that cause muscle symmetry and faster gains.. so be doing that

 

compound lifts are the best mass builders, so for upper body you will want to do pullups, dips, bent rows, and bench presses to get where you're trying to go..

 

the amount of reps you do is vital to what your gains are going to become. the following is 'progressive resistance training' information:

 

you want to start at a weight that you can do many reps of. I was personally taught to do 3 sets of 8 (24 reps total). a set exists because of the energy that your body uses for movement. it transitions between cardiovascular/aerobic (fat+oxygen) and anaerobic (ATP(adenosine triphosphate)). read about ATP on wiki if you want to know more about it. it fuels the muscles and is a 3 step process. glucose is the best way of feeding your glycogen stores (which it transforms into in the liver). glycogen then turns into ATP.

ATP is important for the amount of reps you choose because after a certain amount of them your body will stop having any in the muscle you're moving and start to switch over to aerobic energy and this is not good for 'explosive' movement and your muscles will fail sooner than later which means less exercise in them. 5 reps is the general 'strength only, ATP only' amount before you wait 90 seconds for ATP to regenerate to do another set.

therefore you will be choosing how much you're training endurance and how much you're training strength by how many reps you do. more sets are usually found in workouts where you are going for endurance at a lighter weight

my understanding is that 5 is more strength, 8 is more strength (but also a little endurance), 12 is more endurance (a little strength), and 15 is mostly endurance.

 

I recommend picking a weight that you can do almost all of 3 sets of 8. wait 3 days and then you're ready to do more.

once you have accomplished all 3 sets of 8 at a specific weight, add 5 pounds (cumulative, if barbell 2.5lb on either side; only add 2.5lb if dumbbells when possible) the next time.

overtraining happens if you try to hit that muscle group again before 72 hours (and without adequate protein/rest to recover). if your muscles stop, it means you've reached muscle failure. this is a good thing, and later on you'll wish it was easier to get to. (or be mad that it happened early). you might be able to do more a few minutes later, but it is unsafe to do so. just move on to the next workout.

 

glucose is easily obtainable in the form of medjool dates. thrive diet says 4 dates is enough to weight lift for an hour. after an hour your energy will drop and you need another dose of it. 'workout gels' sometimes contain date paste as their main ingredient.

 

after your workout, drink a protein shake. your blood is in the muscles and will leave them to digest solids. liquid protein is vital immediately after the exercise, but it's bad to drink protein beforehand because it 'burns dirty'

 

a lot of this information is from thrive diet by Brendan brazier.

 

if anyone notes any corrections I welcome it.

 

last tip for now: form is extremely important and perfecting it means being safe and getting the most out of your workout.

don't be afraid to ask trainers at your gym to look at what you're doing, don't hesitate to post videos of yourself doing stuff for form critique.

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Ooh thanks for that. Very interesting.

 

I've been unsure what to do about eating. I've been cutting calories and limiting wheat and sugar to try and get rid of the fat (I've been mainly concentrating on cardio) but I don't know if this can be helpful for muscle toning. I'm more inclined to prioritise fat loss than building muscle, though as I said I do want to become visibly toned. Can these two things easily go hand in hand without causing a huge headache?

 

I currently do 2 sets of 15 on each muscle machine that I want to do (this is because my boyfriend said that was the 'correct way'). I do a light weight (5-15kg depending what it is) as that is all I can do having never done any real hard work before! Should I force myself to do heavier weights? I feel like I should be aching after a workout, but I don't. I also worry I'm doing things wrong if a different muscle to what's indicated is strained. I don't feel like the gym staff are that knowledgeable to ask them and get a response I'm confident with.

 

I go every Monday, Wednesday and Friday before breakfast and do the same things each time (except now I'm not able to run due to injuring my ankle ). I suppose I will need to adjust then and not do the same muscles so soon after. Should I expect to see results quite quickly? I'm not too worried if it will take a while, but I'm keen to know.

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"Aching" is probably a bad thing to be feeling after a workout - it sounds like pulling something. Failure is clear indication that you've worked a muscle to the point that it will definitely regrow stronger.

 

You will at first experience DOMS the day after (delayed onset muscle soreness), and probably a lot of burning during the movement but the same day you worked a muscle it probably won't have much idle feeling in it.

 

As for results, you should expect to see big gains the first couple months. The biggest/fastest change as far as gains go is in the beginning.

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"Aching" is probably a bad thing to be feeling after a workout - it sounds like pulling something. Failure is clear indication that you've worked a muscle to the point that it will definitely regrow stronger.

 

Excellent advice!

 

Intensity can only be measured in two ways, 0% and 100% intensity of effort, as awaken375 points out, training to momentary muscular failure is the only way of knowing you've bypassed all other possibilities for maximum growth stimulation.

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Failure's not being able to do another lift. Advice from the trainer in my gym (I was also new to this about 5 months ago) was if I can do around 10 reps with a weight 3 times it's right, more reps and I need to go up in weight, less and I need to go down. I like my current program a lot (and have a training journal on here so you can have a look if you want) which the trainer (free, mind) worked out with me. Weight training 4 days a week - Back and biceps, chest and triceps, legs, arms and shoulders. Big muscle groups first (so back and chest before biceps and triceps). Any energy I have after I burn on cardio, but I usually do 2 separate cardio days. Or try to. I was just really getting used to this when I moved to a different country. Not helpful! Free weights are better than machines in general because they use your stabilizer muscles, so you'll have to drop to a lower weight than you'd do on the machine. Most women stick to cardio and a few of the weight machines but... I personally much prefer free weights, and don't let anyone tell you you'll 'bulk up'. It's all relative, and you don't have the testosterone. I'm guessing that like me you'll need to start at very small weights and you're not going to get any bulking off that, just much more toned and strong. Don't be afraid of doing as much weight as you can handle though. You'll know you've reached failure when you're muscles feel hot, tired and achy - but it feels good! It will hurt much more for the first few weeks too till you're body gets used to it. Maybe start off with the 4 weight days, then add in cardio when you feel you can handle it. Personally my biggest physical change has been my upper body - I'm starting to love wearing backless things for the first time ever, and showing off my arms. I know what it feels like to be starting completely from scratch feeling like you know nothing, and it's a lot to take in, but don't worry - just starting and having fun is the main thing, you can work it out as you go along and work out what's right for you

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Yep, the noticable changes happen fast.. if you choose to use freeweights, be sure and get some guidance from a person who works at your gym for doing the form right. It can permanently damage your spine to squat or deadlift wrong!

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Thank you That's really helpful. What you say about the noticeable changes in your body after relatively little time gives me inspiration.

 

Pleasure there are some really inspirational before and after threads on here, especially some of the women's ones. They're great to give that extra push to keep going when I feel I haven't seen any changes for a while. As is keeping a journal, I've found it extremely helpful for myself as accountability.

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