Weight training will make you more durable, speed up your metabolism and help you burn more calories in daily life than you will if you don't lift. Some people avoid lifting weights while they are trying to loose weight because it seems counter intuitive. They don't want to bulk up, they just want to loose weight, but lifting weights is an important part of the entire weight loss puzzle.
If you are in a weight loss program, you should spend at least 20 minutes three days a week on lifting, alternating days with cardiovascular workouts like running or walking. There are even some workout systems, like The Firm, that mix lighter weights with cardio workouts to get your heart rate up and burn more calories without having to resort to higher impact exercises. Here are some basic upper body exercises to get you started.
Before you start, with each exercise you will want to choose a weight to lift. If you are looking to develop a little bit of bulk, you pick a weight that you can only lift 8-10 times. If you are looking to get a leaner look, choose a weight that will get you to failure after 12 to 15 reps. Of course if you are just starting out, it may take you a while to figure out what your perfect weight is, and it's really important to keep a diary of what you are lifting and how the weight was, and how many reps you did.
* Dumbbell Curl With knees slightly bent and a dumbbell in each hand and with palms facing forwards, curl the weights all the way up, your palms should now be facing you. Hold the weight there for a moment and then reverse the motion curling the weight back down. This is one rep. You should feel these in the front of your upper arm.
*Hammer Curl With knees slightly bent and a dumbbell in each hand, this time with palms facing inward, curl the weight up, not rotating the arm at all, and then back down. You will be making a hammering motion.
*Overhead Triceps Extension Holding a dumbbell in each hand, extend the arms overhead. Keep the upper arm stationary and keep the elbows from flaring outwards. Lower the weights behind your head and then straighten them up. you should feel this down the back of you upper arm.
*Chair Dips You won't use any weights for this exercise, just the weight of your body. Sitting on the edge of a chair with your hands holding onto the front edge and your legs extend lower your body off the edge of the chair until the upper arms are parallel to the ground. Straighten your arms to bring your body back up to where you started. The standard for for this exercise is to do this with the legs straight out in front of you. If you need to make it easier, bend the knees and do the exercise that way. As you get stronger, you can straighten one leg, and eventually work up to both arms straight. Once you master that, you can get a second chair and put the legs up on the chair, that's super tough.
*Alternating Shoulder Press With one leg slightly in front of the other and knees bent a bit and a weight in each hand, stand with the weights at shoulder height, palms facing forward. One arm at a time straighten the weight up into the air, rotating it so that your palm is facing inward at the top, lower the arm and then repeat with the other side, that is one rep.
*Upright Row Stand with one leg slightly in front and the knees bent a bit and a weight in each hand. Palms are facing inwards and stay that way the entire time. Pull the dumbbells from the thighs to just under the chin, elbows higher than the hands at the top, lower and repeat.
*Push Ups Nothing will do the job like old fashion push ups when it comes to chest exercises. Not only will you be working your chest muscles, but also your core muscles come into play to hold you steady when you are on your hands and toes. Starting with your arms and legs straight, hold you stomach tight and lower yourself to a few inches above the floor and then push yourself back up to your starting position. Remember to keep your body straight throughout the exercise.
*Flies Lying down flat on a bench with a dumbbell in each had extend your arms straight up in the air, palms together. With slightly bent elbows, slowly lower the arms out to the side until they are straight out (maintaining the slight bend in the elbow) then raise them back up to the starting position.
*Seated Back Fly Sit at the edge of a chair with a dumbbell in each hand. Lower your upper body until it is resting on your thighs. Keep your wrists facing each other. With elbows out pull the weights up towards the ceiling, pulling your shoulder blades together, slowly lower to starting position.
*Single Arm Row In a lunge position, with your left arm leaning on your left knee, pickup a dumbbell with your right hand. Keep your wrist pointed towards your body and pull your elbow up to your waist and then lower. Do your desired reps and then repeat on the other side.
Those should be enough to get you going, remember that if you are working hard, you will probably be sore for a few days, but eventually that will lessen and then go away as you build up your strength. If you are looking to get more in depth in your lifting, there are tons of books, websites and DVDs available to guide you. A few of my personal favorites are the book Body for Life by Bill Phillips, firmdirect.com, and beachbody.com. Which exercise plan works the best? The one you actually do!
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