06/11/12

Guest Post: Heavy Weight Lifting

Hi everyone, I’m back with another feature fitness article. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Erika Worger, owner of Fit4Evr and a good friend of Michelle’s. I have over 10 years of experience in the health and fitness industry, I run indoor/outdoor bootcamps and the Mothers Into Lifetime Fitness program, work with clients on injury rehab and design nutritional programs for my clients.

As a trainer, I’m always asked, “What’s the best exercise out there?” I take that as, “What is going to get me the best results in the least amount of time?” I have never really had an answer. Squats, yes they are great for the lower body and core. Interval training, yes you get strength and cardio gains at the same time. Clean eating, yes diet is more than half the battle. I can think of 1,000 other effective things but nothing really stood out for me until this spring.

Today I want to share the answer with the Toque Girls followers: HEAVY LIFTING!

I have always considered myself to be strong, so I felt like I didn’t wimp out during my workouts. I would always grab the 20′s off the rack and leave the pink weights for “the girls.” But that wasn’t enough. I have always known that in order to build muscle, you need to lift heavy. I have always known that women “won’t bulk up.” But I never truly trained that way until early this year.

I have been powerlifting 1 day a week since mid-February and the change in my strength and my aesthetics is unbelievable. A powerlifting training session consists of 3 major lifts: squats, deadlifts and bench press. I work up to my 1 max rep most weeks and generally never do a set of more than 5. I never break a sweat. It’s just a very different way of working out than the usual circuit training we are all stuck on. When I train now, we push hard and then joke around, tell stories and allow our muscles to fully recover before performing another grueling set of 1. In just 4 months, I am stronger than ever, I have more muscle definition in my 30′s than I did as an athlete in my 20′s and I can run faster and longer on the treadmill. The results are AMAZING!!!! They cross over into every other aspect of my life. And I did NOT bulk up. The test? My skinny jeans still slide on effortlessly. (And do up!)

I have been working with a powerlifting coach, Brian Johnston, at Ki Fitness in Kensington, but heavy training does not have to be to that extreme to reap the benefits. Here are a few pointers and exercises that can be done safely on your own. I picked leg and back exercises because the bigger the muscle group, the more “bang for your buck”.

I filmed some short instructional videos to help you out:

Leg Press
Lat Pulldown
Single-arm row
Assisted Chin Up
Straight-Leg Dumbbell Deadlifts

You can also easily incorporate any of the machines at your gym. Although not the best for stability and core training, machines are a safe way to perform a super heavy set – when you have no spotter — without fear of injury. I want to be EXTREMELY clear here: FORM IS EVERYTHING. Don’t compromise form for extra weight.

Here is my guideline for sets and reps on a heavy day:

HEAVY EXERCISES: PICK 4 – 6 EXERCISES AND DO DROP SETS, MEANING 10 REPS, 8 REPS, 6 REPS, 4 REPS AND 2 REPS.

Each set should get heavier. The goal is to fatigue with each set. Don’t be shy, GO HEAVY.

So, if someone asks me, “What’s the best exercise out there?” I will confidently say incorporate a “heavy” day!

~Erika