Is it messing up my results to spread a weight lifting session over the course of an evening?
May 28, 2012 12:05 PM   Subscribe

Is it messing up my results to spread a weight lifting session over the course of an evening?

For the last few months I've been doing strength training 2-3 times a week during the even while I watch tv. I'm pretty leisurely about it. I do three sets of dips, squats, planks, lunges, bridges, pushups, and usually throw in another exercise or two. I keep track of it on an app on my phone. I use dumbbells for most of these exercise and try to aim for between 8 and 12 reps.

I tend to do a set or two during commercial breaks. So I might do a plank for 60-80 seconds and then do a set of 12 squats. I then might move on to another exercise and not get back to doing another 2 sets of planks and squats until possibly an hour lateror maybe even longer. Should I not be doing that? Do I need to try and complete all the exercises back to back say in 30 or 40 minutes? Or do I need to complete three sets of each exercise more or less back to back?
posted by whoaali to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You've been doing this for a few months? How are your results? Are you sleeping and eating properly?
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 12:08 PM on May 28, 2012

Nah, there's no particular virtue in making them back-to-back (unless you're specifically working on metabolic conditioning or endurance - where you're either doing a Crossfit-style workout at speed or basically doing 36 reps right in a row with very very short breaks.) You're not getting the cardio benefit you would by not letting your heartrate get all the way back down, but what you're describing isn't a particularly hardcore workout anyway.

What kind of results are you looking for? What you're doing is some good basic core strength work, but isn't going to make you buff or anything.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:11 PM on May 28, 2012

Response by poster: I've had some results I guess. I can definitely feel more muscle and I'm stronger, but I don't feel like I look any different. My eating and sleeping are ok, but not optimal admittedly. I realize that's necessary for really good results, but I'm still working on it. I'm just not sure whether my current routine is what it should be although I've found that I can actually stick with doing this on a regular basis.

I'm just looking to be more toned and general health.
posted by whoaali at 12:14 PM on May 28, 2012

The food and sleep is going to have a much bigger impact on how you look than the workout. If you're not looking to get super-strong, just be generally healthy, then your current plan is fine. If you do want to add some more muscle, you'll need to be doing a barbell-focused, 3-5 rep plan with heavy weights. (Which will not be nearly as conducive to watching TV.)

And honestly, you could put on a ton of muscle and get really pretty strong, but if your eating patterns are terrible, you could still be pretty unhealthy-looking. I know this because I AM this.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:21 PM on May 28, 2012

It's really good that you can "actually stick with doing this on a regular basis". I've found that the more I get into weightlifting, the more I want to do it. So, I wouldn't worry about forcing anything. At some point, you will feel like like doing another set even though the commercial break is over.

If you're going to take such long breaks, you should keep the weights up so that you're not able to do more than (say) 8.

Also, you should consider adding deadlifts (which you can also do with dumbbells), and maybe getting a small bench to do dumbbell press (instead of pushups), military press (if you don't mind doing it without back support), and dumbbel rows. That would add good weighted exercises for chest, shoulders, and back, which you don't have in your list.

You can get really strong doing what you're doing, but it's true that the cardio benefits are smaller if you take long breaks.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 12:24 PM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

(Instead of military press, I meant dumbbell shoulder press.)

You can do a lot with dumbbells if you have a complete set. The big advantage to dumbbells are that you usually don't need a spotter, you ensure that both sides train equally (with a barbell, your dominant side tends to keep getting stronger than the other side), and your stabilizer muscles get an even better workout than they would with barbells (which is nevertheless better than machines).

The advantage to barbells is that since you need less stabilization and you can use your dominant side to make up for deficits on the other side, you can lift a bit more (for me, it's about 20%), which means you get more of a workout. Also with decline press, it's hard to get the dumbbells off the ground from the decline position without help.

I do most upper body exercises with dumbbells since I go to the gym alone, but sometimes I throw in a barbell exercise for variety.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 12:34 PM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Good to know. I totally realize that I need to improve my eating to really get results, but that has always been the eternal struggle. I'm pretty good during the week counting calories and eating lots of salads but too much alcohol and weekend socializing tends to negate everything I did during the week.

I haven't focused as much on my upper body because I used to do more arm exercises and my arms got bigger, to the point my suit jackets barely fit, but since I haven't lost weight they don't even look more toned so I backed off the arms.
posted by whoaali at 12:35 PM on May 28, 2012

Personally, I'd rather lift very heavy and do fewer reps. Most women don't work their entire upper bodies enough (lats, taps, and so on,not just arms), I think, and so miss a great opportunity to get stronger.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:02 PM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Actually, very competitive weightlifters (who can spend their whole day training) prefer to spread sessions apart so they're rested for each exercise. But you aren't actually spreading your sessions across that much. The way you're doing it is fine. My only concern is that you have probably adjusted to the weights you're using and need to start adding more, whether by buying heavier dumbbells or investing in a barbell set.
posted by Anonymous at 7:38 PM on May 28, 2012

« Older where to get grad photos in Toronto?   |   Want to put a site up for a week or two. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.