This is part of an installation of articles that I’d be writing to help nurture total beginners of weight training (whom I’d, unabashedly call - Iron Babies).
Ah… the Iron Garden - that exclusive little section in the corner of your gym. It’s where meatheads, broski’s, grunting warriors, wannabe’s and tanktop flex-o-holic’s congregate. For those not familiar with the gym lingo, the Iron Garden is just a snazzy name we iron lovers call the ‘free weights’ section.
When we refer to the Iron Garden, we don’t mean machines (leg extensions, ab crunch machine, lat pulldowns etc).. we mean raw, unadulterated iron in the form of the trinity - dumbbells, weight plates and barbells.
Just a quick note on why being in the Iron Garden triumphs over the machines anytime of the day: Free weights allow for more natural range of motions that your body was designed for. Machines (which you end up sitting on 98% of the time) restrict your line of mobility, reducing the activation of your core. Your core is the main stabilizer of your entire body, having a weak core affects all other forms of fitness performance.
Besides being known as the Fit Bunney… I’m also known as the Iron Barbie - because once I step into the gym, I make an undistracted beeline for the Iron Garden. In fact, I owe the progressions I’ve made with my physique to the iron (and of course, taking care of my nutrition). But if you’ve watched the video on my story, you’d realize that I started off as a cardio bunny for months. While I transitioned to the weight machines… I took a couple of months to really get comfortable with handling the free weights.
Free weights allow you to build lean muscle (coupled with good nutrition) optimally. Today, I hope I’d help you realize that you, too, can take advantage of the free weights without fear.
1. Walk into the Iron Garden with a PLAN
Cue the scene: You hop off the treadmill, thinking.. Today shall be the day I muster up the courage to try out some of the dumbbell exercises I’ve learnt on YouTube! You swagger all but 3 seconds into the Iron Garden……… and…… look at the whole array of Iron goodies..
You start to get confused, you get intimidated. Where the heck should I start? Oh shit.. Okay.. I’d better not make a fool of myself. Let’s GEDDDOUT of here!!!!!!
As they always say, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. In this case, ‘fail’ is too severe…. But if you fail to plan your workouts.. you’re most likely planning to BAIL… especially if you’re just a baby when it comes to free weights training.
The one mistake people make is doing WHATEVER they feel like for that day. 32 reps of dumbbell curls, 3 sets of dumbbell lunges, 12 reps of shoulder press, 83 reps of dumbbell curls…. Sure, at least working out is better than not working out at all right? But, hey, if you’re spending an hour in the gym, you want to make sure that hour is OPTIMALLY spent. We’re all busy with work and school, and an hour doesn’t come by easy for most of us.
The least you can do, is take some time on sunday, to plan out your workouts for the week. I usually take about half an hour for the entire week to calibrate my reps/sets/weights/target PR’s (personal records).
Better still? Do a quick google search to find workout plans.
Here’s a good database of personalized plans on bodybuilding.com. Depending on your gender, age, and fitness goals (fat loss/muscle building), workout plans will cater to your needs. It comes with reps/sets, and even workout videos/images to ensure that you know how to perform out each exercise effectively.
- Select your plan.
- Print out the workout
- Look through your entire workout plan before you start training - this will reduce the time spent on constant referral to your paper and walking back and forth between exercises
- TAKE IT ALONG WITH YOU INTO THE IRON GARDEN - at least for the first week to familiarise yourself. (yes, your memory will somehow fail you with all that blood pumping into your muscles halfway through your workout)
I presently design my own workouts myself, based on many cycles/months of self experimentation. I will advise you to start off with a structured plan that has been designed for you first. But over time, you’d learn to know your body and physique so much so you’d know what will work best for you and will be better equipped with the knowledge to design your own personalized workout plan. By then, I’m pretty sure you’d be able to recall names of exercises even without reference to pictures and videos.. ;)
Part II coming soon…..