Well…maybe not so much after eating some brownies this afternoon but I had a major chocolate craving! Typically though I do feel light, strong and energized. At least that is my goal during workouts. While not a conscious goal, I do know when it’s been accomplished. Last night was one of those nights. I was in desperate need of pumping some iron as I had not been good about lifting weights for at least a week or so. There is something empowering about being a petite woman in the gym against the backdrop of meathead grunting men who look like they might pop a vessel in their heads. It used to intimidate me but now I don’t care because I deserve to be there just as much as they do. I may not be lifting enormous loads like them but I do push myself a little harder with each set.
I was telling a friend that I have a love-hate relationship with weight lifting. I never want to do it, but once I’m in the swing of things actually enjoy myself. It’s fun to see my muscles working in the mirror (ok so I like to admire myself a little bit) and clothes just fit so much better with a little bit of muscle definition. I love that muscle memory will always be there–they just remember they exist and while my arm muscles are not the biggest on the block they are there.
A lot of runners forget to work their upper bodies but being a naturally small-framed person I cannot neglect to do so. My leg muscles naturally get stronger and larger when I run so to keep an equal balance weight lifting is key. Here are a few of my favorite exercises for upper body and the primary muscles that they work:
- Dumbbell Chest Press: targets chest area (pectoralis major and minor and triceps); typically lie on a flat bench or stability ball
- Dumbbell Curls: targets arms (biceps); typically standing
- Lat Pulldown: targets back (latissimus dorsi); typically machine
- Overhead Press or Dumbbell Shoulder Press: targets shoulders (deltoid, anterior); machine, standing or sitting on a bench
- Tricep dips: targets arms (triceps); multiple ways to work including assisted pull-up/tricep dip machine, off a bench, or using dumbbells
- Pushups: targets chest and arms (pectorals and triceps); one of the most tried and true calisthenic exercise that I wholeheartedly agree keeps your upper body strong–beauty is that you can do them anywhere!
While lifting weights it’s also important to keep moving between sets. My newest tip is jump roping. Now finding a spot at the gym can sometimes be tricky but with some good tunes it can be a lot of fun. Challenge–jump rope on one leg and alternate. Take breaks with pushups or situps in between.
So here’s to weightlifting and staying light, strong and energized!