Saturday, June 19, 2010

First Month of Weight-Lifting

It was September 2008 and I had just bought my first weight bench. I started with a 35-pound bench press, just to make sure I wouldn't hurt myself. Of course, the barbell itself weights 20 pounds, so I only had 7.5 pounds of iron weights loaded on each end. I added more weight every 2-3 days so that by the end of the month my bench press was 60 pounds times 29 repetitions (reps). About this time I figured out that the fact that I couyld do 29 reps without needing to rest in between (a single set) meant that I should put on more weight and do fewer reps. I was just learning the jargon. I understood "reps" but I didn't know what a "set" was! This is exactly why I bought my own bench and weights. I couldn't go to a gym and ask someone these elementary questions! For the record, a "set" is the number of reps you do without stopping in between. What is the point of breaking an exercise into sets? My answer to this is that a brief rest allows your body to circulate blood through the muscles to remove the waste products generated by muscle contraction. A build-up of lactic acid, for example, will lead to muscle fatigue, and muscle fatigue will limit your ability to continue exercising at peak efficiency. So by breaking exercises into sets with a certain number of reps, you can work the muscles longer. And the more you work your muscles, the stronger and longer they will be able to work the next time you use them.

Besides the bench press, I was also doing the following at the end of Sept 2008:
  • Rotator Cuff Exercises with Elastic Band: 30
  • Lateral Raises: 28 reps @ 5 pounds
  • Bicep Curl: 30 reps @ 8 pounds
  • Dumbbell Fly: 30 reps @ 8 pounds
  • Abdominal Crunches: 30

My daily average for cardiovascular exercise was a paltry 5 min per day, burning 48 calories per day. This was based on walking once during the month, swimming once, cycling once, and using a stationary bike twice.

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