Monday, June 29, 2009

Who's Afraid of a Ten-Pound Dumbbell?

This week I'll be spending a lot of time packing, getting ready for a move into my new house. Which may not only account for my infrequent entries here on Gymspy, but which may also provide some extra physical activity---a good thing since I may not have time to get all my workouts in this week. But that's okay. I'll be lifting/pushing/dragging boxes around, painting, and hardcore cleaning, so active will be the Word.

If you have the---and I'll use this word loosely---luxury of lifting heavy things or performing other manual labor for a living, give yourself a pat on the back. You're in the fortunate position of not being sedentary, and all that hauling has likely given you some muscle tone you wouldn't have if your butt were glued to a desk chair all day. And if you strength train on top of that, I'm guessing you use heavier weights than five pounds, right? You who haul boxes or bricks or crates of milk cartons scoff at the notion of lifting with puny dumbbells.

And yet a number of exercisers, particularly those who are sedentary the rest of the time, are somehow terrified of lifting "heavy." They fear bulking up or hurting themselves. These are legit concerns of inexperienced exercisers; however, those who've been doing this a while should, frankly, know better.

For years exercise experts, wellness websites, fitness magazines, and celebrity trainers alike have been pushing the idea that selecting heavier weights in and of itself will not cause you to bulk up. Not if you're a women, not if you're not training almost daily, and not if you're not following a regimented diet geared for mass building. The casual exerciser, who lifts two or three days a week and performs a full-body circuit, will develop increased muscle tone---not size---but only if she challenges herself. Using the same 5-lb dumbbells and performing the same exercises week after week will not bring continued results.

And if you fear you'll hurt yourself by going heavier or that you're not performing the exercises correctly? That's what trainers are for. Talk to an expert to confirm whether you're ready for a greater challenge.

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