MY EXPERIENCE LIFTING WEIGHTS
Let me start by saying that although I am a certified fitness instructor and teach at Btone (and have taught a different studios) lifting is something kinda new to me. Fitness Instructor Certifications are great but they don’t cover lifting much, or at all. Or at least mine! I have also learned that most successful personal trainers have years and years of experience, and although some might have Exercise science degrees, a lot of them agree that the more you train people and yourself, the more you learn. So yeah, I am not an expert, but I learn from others experiences and I hope that my experience helps you somehow.
My first lifting experience was back in University, I had a personal trainer for a full semester. I loved working out with him, he taught me the basics of the basics, and slowly increased my weight. I remember seeing my body composition changing a bit. I stopped working with him during summer and never saw him again after. I lived abroad for a year and went I came back I was getting into Crossfit. So by the time I picked up a dumbbell again, I didn’t feel super lost, and I thought, I was doing everything right.
Before lifting again, I was a HIIT addict. I would do HIIT circuits pretty much everyday, and will love fitness classes that had the same concept, or that leave me sweating my face off. HIIT is amazing, don’t get me wrong. It gives you weight loss results pretty damn fast. I lost a few kilos/pounds and my figure stayed pretty much the same way for years.
But about a year ago I started lifting. Maybe even a bit longer than that. It wasn’t to get fit, since I was already exercising pretty much everyday for the past couple years. I simply wanted a new challenge, and something new to learn. I was very inspired by a lot of the girls I was following on instagram, and pretty amazed how many of them where getting pretty strong, so I wanted to give it ago.
I got myself a PDF style fitness guide to follow to start somewhere, and I hit the weight room. I was super intimidated, I really didn’t know how much I was supposed to lift, and thought that because I have been working out consistently for couple years I could/I was supposed to lift heavy already. Like some magical fairy gave me strong muscles somehow. I also felt pressure to see results quick, like HIIT has given me, and to show on Instagram how good I was, and how strong I was. I can admit now that I did it for the ‘gram. What silly stupid move. I started with heavier weights that my body could handle and got a pinch on my shoulder one day. I wasn’t seen changes (after 2-3 weeks), so I gave up. I really thought that by just lifting here and there I was going to see massive changes. Again, silly stupid move.
I gave up for a while, went back to HIIT, boxing, sprinting, spinning and every classes under the Boston Fall. Until one day my friend Alejandra offered me to train me, and I obviously said yes. That’s what I needed, someone that could teach me, and develop a training plan for me, no for the masses, but for me, my goals and physique type (I am an Ectomorph and is really hard fo me to build and keep muscle). Alejandra has also been like me, a very skinny gal that wanted to gain some strength and gains. So I trusted her. And got to work.
To be honest, I wasn’t super strict and would miss a chest day, or not really track how much I was lifting, so I had no clue if I was getting better or not. Not Alejandra’s fault at all, it was my lack of communication and real commitment. I still managed to finished the 12 weeks training, and 50% of the time I hit my macros. I know is not a lot, but I have never done it before so it was hard to get my head around. And well, I didn’t put the effort on it. Lifting alone is amazing, but if you want too see real gain changes, you need to focus on your nutrition, and I didn’t. Most of the time I was either under eating (not in a bad way, I just couldn’t eat as much) or eating the wrong food. I did see some tiny gain changes and that kept me motivated.
It has been eight months since I first started that 12 week program with Alejandra. And I haven’t looked back. Yes, I do take some breaks and go back to fitness classes or some circuits but for the most part I have been just lifting.
In eight months, with a bit of tracking and consistency, I have been able to go from squatting just the bar to 135 lbs, from 24% body fat to 21%, and to increase my muscle mass a tiny bit. It has been hard, and I haven’t been as consistent as I want to be, due travel, work, laziness.
As a fairly skinny human that has a very hard time building and keeping muscle mass, I can tell you that the little wins feel so much better than anything.
There were a few mistakes I made throught the past few months that have made me learn and grow. That’s why I wrote my 10 tips for weight lifting beginners. Because I hope you can learn from me, and don’t injured yourself or rush things, or do it for someone else. Every time you do anything, do it for you. Not for the scale, the people that follow you, your favorite instructor. Is for YOU.
I do feel pressure to say the right thing, to have perfect form, to lift heavy because of stupid social media, but I would still lift and workout even if I didn’t have it. I would still video myself to watch my form and learn from it. I would still get a personal trainer to help out, even though “ I am supposed to know because I’m a fitness instructor” - so don’t feel shame if you are an instructor asking for help, or having exercising for a while. Just ask for help. Lifting is great, when is done right.
For now, I am keeping my body building split because I enjoy it, but I am focusing on heavier lifts for my lower body to build strength and gains. Yep, I do want to see physical changes in the next few months. Does that mean I don’t love myself how I am? Not at all. I do love me, and that’s why I do it. I’ll post a little update on my split, macros and more soon.
One final thought: don’t be scared to lift, the weight room or gym bros (in fact, gym bros suck), it will be intimidating some times, but the more you do it, the more comfortable you will get. Strength training is good not just for changing your body composition, but to create bone density, muscle mass, a mental challenge, and ladies, it doesn’t make you bulky.
Let me know your own lifting experience, I want to hear from you!