I can't use free weights effectively due to a previous arm injury. Unfortunately, just about every good weightlifting resource I'm finding seems to
machines. Help me tweak my workout and find better resources, please.
Backstory: I broke my elbow several years ago and have a ton of scar tissue that restricts my mobility. If I lift free weights, I'm either babying the "good" arm at the expense of the other or I'm spending all my time catering to the bad one, with resulting bad form. Forget squats. They're just not happening. (I'm not afraid
! I just can't do 'em!)
I have a few sessions left with my trainer, and she's been helpful, but I think she's really taking it easy on me. She raised her eyebrow when I said I'd been doing 12 reps x 3 on each exercise -- I thought that was fairly normal!
The exercises I've been doing with her include:
isolateral bench press, pec flye/rear delt, chest press
iso-lateral shoulder press, lateral raise
lateral pulldown/low row, regular lateral pulldown, back extension
biceps curl machine, fixed pulley cable crossover
tricep cable machine pulldown, triceps press
leg extension, leg press
seated leg curl
hip adductor, hip abductor
ab crunch (+ obliques on same machine), ab bench
I'm finding most of them pretty easy even with a fairly decent amount of weight, with the exception of the shoulder presses and anything where I have to extend upwards. Like most women, I've got fairly powerful legs. So here's what I'm wondering...
1. What's the max number of days I can weight train per week? Would 2 days of upper body training and 1 of lower body training be sufficient, or can I do more? I'm looking to build mass and displace fat. (I have also adjusted my diet, and yes, I am doing protein shakes post-workout).
2. I don't believe in this powderpuff "only 10 reps" crap that some other women at my gym seem to do. Or light weights, high reps. But I find it distracting to switch up weight amounts mid-series. Would it be more effective to do 12 x 3 with the same amount of weight all the way through, or...? There's so much conflicting info out there!
3. Is there an optimal order in which to perform the upper muscle group exercises? I've found when my trainer works me in a different order I sometimes have a MUCH harder time lifting with my weaker shoulders, etc than I otherwise do. Or is it better to mix it up all the time?
4. I recently bought a scale that tracks BMI and muscle mass. Is it unrealistic to expect to see those numbers changing in the first month, given that I've changed my diet as well?
5. I'm a visual learner: is there any resource out there that shows which groups of muscles are worked on particular machines or motions, and how they act together, or at the very least, explains which secondary groups of muscles are affected by a particular exercise? I'm trying to get the most bang for my buck in terms of selecting which exercises to do so I don't end up in the gym for more than an hour every day.
6. Speaking of which -- trainer's only working me for 30 minutes at a time. That seems low to me. What would you consider optimal for someone trying to build a lot of muscle? Might as well shoot big here: I'm going for Linda Hamilton-circa-Terminator, not just "no longer fat." Thanks.
p.s. Really. No free weights. Trust me, I've tried.