Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Bit About Weights & Pumpkin Soup

Splits vs Full-Body for Lifting?
Today ended up being another weight-free day for me. I didn't get up early to workout, and Jason and I ran an errand (Whole Foods) at lunch. I want my chest and back workout to be a good, solid workout with the option of a spotter, so I am putting that off until Saturday. I ended up doing the cardio only premix from Cathe Friedrich's Low Impact Circuit plus the abs workout.

Now, on the topic of weights, Alycia @ Fit n Fresh commented yesterday with a question about splitting up muscle groups vs full-body workouts for weight lifting. She noticed that I typically split out my muscle groups and asked if that was how I had always worked out. I thought this was a really great question, especially for people interested in starting a weight lifting routine. I know it can be so intimidating that you just avoid it. I mean, how on earth do you know how many sets, how many reps, how many days, what exercises, what's the right weight, etc. There are some crazy rotations and methods too: drop sets, super sets, tri sets, giant sets, oh pyramids, straight sets, push muscles, pull muscles, push/pull...holy crap.

Disclaimer before anyone jumps on my case - I am NOT certified in anything. The following is simply my personal beliefs and suggestions through research and trial and error on my own. If you want professional advice, please talk to a certified personal trainer.

Well, to answer the question about how I started off - I started lifting doing full-body and circuit workouts. Cathe Friedrich* was and is my go-to gal pal for weights. The great thing about starting off with the DVDs is that you don't really have to think about all the details. But, the problem can be getting in a rut and not changing up the routine, the splits, increasing your weights, etc. You do have to push yourself and not be afraid to pick up that heavier weight and know that hitting failure isn't a bad thing.

So, full-body vs splits? There seems to be some debate about the effectiveness of either style. I think there are pros and cons for both, and I am not here to argue them. Here is one article you can read that sort of explains the differences. But, from personal experience I would suggest starting off with 2-3 full-body workouts a week. Make sure you're up for the routine of lifting each week. Get familiar with the exercises out there and the weights you're able to lift. Then play around with reps and weights - try going for fewer reps, but upping those weights. This is more muscle and strength building. Do some research or invest in some (more) DVDs and play around with splits. Cathe seriously has some amazing DVDs to choose from for lifting options. I know there are others, I am just not as familiar with them. There are also books that have rotations set up for you (gotta love that) with demonstrations of the exercises as well. Two that I would happily recommend (I own both) are The Body Fat Solution and The New Rules of Lifting for Women .

Now, I mostly do splits now. I have done a total-body rotation (8-weeks) twice since December just to change things up. I prefer to split out the muscle groups though so I can go heavy and focus on that muscle group more. I like to change up the splits too - not always doing biceps and triceps, but sometimes doing say biceps and back, or biceps, triceps, shoulders. The thing is, when you only work that muscle group once a week, you have to hit it hard because you're then going to rest it a week. For full-body workouts, you gotta keep in mind that you are going to hit that muscle group at least once maybe twice more. Good? Bad? Better? Worse? Each to his own is what I say in life. I think you must adapt your workouts (either weights or cardio or both) to your individual situation, your individual needs, your individual goals.

*Note: I do have affiliate links to Cathe's site/products, regardless of this, I wholeheartedly recommend her workouts. I will never recommend any product that I would not purchase myself.

Soup Night
Today ended up being raining, gray, and on the cool side. Jason suggest soup, salad, and bread. Well, I haven't made bread in a while, but he decided to pick some up from a local bakery. I had some canned pumpkin so opted for a Pumpkin Soup. I was out of vegetable broth, so I ended up using unsweetened almond milk instead. It was a nice, creamy and hearty soup. For the salad, I did a play on a BLT with tempeh bacon, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, and green olives. I did use some of the tempeh bacon to top the soup with. I think I may try adding just a few dashes of liquid smoke to this soup the next time I make it.
Pumpkin and butternut squash soups have become some of my favorite soups. It's hard to believe that there was a time I wouldn't consider soup for dinner.