We asked personal trainer and mom of 5, Angela Bergmann, how to choose which weight to lift. This is what she had to say!
If you’ve been looking to start hitting the weights, whether at home with a few dumbbells or on a machine at the gym, it’s important to select the correct weight.
You want to challenge yourself with something that’s heavy enough but at the same time, you don’t want to lift too much and leave yourself exhausted and sore for days.
Muscles – Yay or Nay?
Now, before you tell me that you don’t want to build big, bulky muscles, let me assure you that, as a woman who has lifted consistently for nearly eight years, it’s not going to happen.
You’re not going to get big – bodybuilder big – any time soon.
As women, we don’t have the testosterone to do it.
Building large muscles takes hours in the gym each week and an appetite to match it.
And you do want muscles. Why? Because muscles are your friends.
As a mom, you use your muscles every day, lifting babies, toddlers, groceries, full laundry baskets, and moving heavy objects every day.
I have two bunkbeds in my house and let me tell you, I’m grateful for my muscles when I’m wrangling sheets on and off the top mattress.
When you train your muscles, it makes your job as a Mom easier.
More Muscles, More Food?
Muscles also determine how much fuel your body uses, ie. metabolism. That’s right.
The more muscles you have, the more calories your body will use up during the day even when you’re not working out.
We definitely want to keep what we have. As we age, we naturally lose muscle mass.
If you want to be independent as long as possible and avoid the inconvenience of relying on others for help, your best bet is to keep active with regular weightlifting.
Maintaining my current abilities and strength levels are why I workout with weights three or four times a week.
Where to Start
Start with light weights and give your body a couple weeks of light workouts to adjust.
During this time, aim for higher reps – up to 15 of each exercise – and concentrate on perfecting your form.
This means pushing and pulling the weight with control 100% of the time within your best range of motion.
Don’t fly with your arms, swing with your legs, or use momentum.
Poor form will lead to injury, especially when you begin increasing the weight. Video tape yourself and play it back to carefully examine your movements.
Once you have some experience and some good “muscle memory”, it’s time to increase the weight.
For my upper body, I like to keep the incremental increases small, around two pounds if possible. However, only a well-stocked gym will have weights in two pound increments.
What to do?
Once you can work up to 15 good reps with the weight you’re using, pick a heavier weight, which is usually up five pounds, and go for only six to eight reps.
Build on that over the course of a month or more until you can do twelve to fifteen reps.
Then increase the weight and bump down the reps again.
Eventually, you will hit a point where you can’t increase the weights and that’s completely acceptable.
You can experiment with different lifting tempos and exercises so you’re always challenging your body.
Always listen to your body when you’re working out.
If you’re heading into a workout and you’re low on sleep, stick with the light weights.
Don’t go for any personal records on a day when you’re exhausted or feeling under the weather.
Make Muscles, Mom!
Muscles are a Mom’s best friend. I think this and live it.
The reason I began working out with weights is because I have a weak back and core.
Lifting weights regularly has helped me do my job as a Mom with much more energy and a lot less exhaustion and soreness.
And when you pick up the heavier weights, you’ll also find yourself building beautiful, curvy muscles that will be as practical as they are visually appealing.
Remember, don’t be afraid that you’ll build large muscles. It’s not in our female genetics.
Angela Bergmann, PTS, PFS, RKC, CFC, Mom of 5