Exercise is an integral part of achieving and maintaining maximum fat loss. Proper exercise along with healthy eating, also lowers your risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, and a myriad of other diseases. A well-designed exercise program also increases energy levels while reducing the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Exercise enhances joint stability and prevents, and even reverses, the bone loss seen in aging.
While everyone should be as physically active as possible in every way with daily activities and recreational play, a more structured approach with intense exertion qualifies as exercise. Never confuse a simple activity with true exercise that activates the metabolism for fat burning. Consider a few of examples. When a middle age woman who has worked all day in her garden, despite her exhaustion at the end of the day, what she did cannot be considered exercise. An older man who walks a few blocks each night after dinner with his dog is not exercising. Similarly, a young woman who spends all day shopping at the mall until her feet ache might be tired at the end of the day, but she didn’t exercise. The missing component here that defines exercise is the lack of exertional structure coupled with the need to increase the intensity of the activity to the point of sweat and significantly increasing heart rate. So, while putting on your yoga pants, grabbing a green drink, and joining your friends for a “power walk” may be exhausting fun, by Slimshot System standards, it’s not exercising.
Unlike exhaustive activity, true exercise is a structured and focused, proactive challenging of the body’s limits. This structured form of exercise is more intense than simple activity. True structured exercise is relative to the individual but for each person means setting out to intensely exert oneself over a specific amount of time with the idea of sweating and getting the heart rate up. By creating structured sessions of exercise, you will not have to rely on a potential misperception as to whether or not you are exercising or just being active.
The centerpiece of the exercise component of the Slimshot System is unquestionably cardiovascular exercise. Of course, it should come as no surprise by just looking at the largely out-of-shape physiques of most of the people in the gym taking up all those treadmills, that few know how to properly do cardiovascular exercise, also known as “cardio”, to effectuate maximum fat burning.
Slimshot System cardio, to adequately compliment the diet, for fat burning should be done at least 5 days per week. But before you panic, thinking that you’ll have to spend hours on a treadmill slaving away in an impossible manner you’ll never get yourself to do, you really only need twenty minutes each session. That’s because it’s the Slimshot System is about grooming the metabolism to burn body fat, and NOT about relying on the actual cardio experience to burn the fat (that’s the mistake most everyone makes). Read on, try it, and you’ll understand. Your sessions should involve challenging physical exertion. You want to get your heart rate up and you want to sweat. When you are doing those things, you are getting the most amount of fat burning.
Fat Burning cardio should be performed on either a Stepmill® climbing or a treadmill walking on a high incline (that’s right walking, not running). Surprisingly when done correctly, these are much tougher movements because they exert extreme force and result in extreme fatigue on the muscles but cause far less injuries than flat surface work because they are very low impact. The act of going up steps or uphill, while loading the muscles, actually unloads the joints. Generally speaking, but especially with people that have weight to lose, stay away from traditional flat surface running because the injury potential is so dramatically high. Then there’s the sad reality that most people who think they are “running” are actually just walking fast and, at best, jogging or trotting at a relatively unchallenging pace. What ends up happening is that so-called “joggers” spend far too much time in this mind and body-numbing experience. They sometimes do this excruciatingly slow, sweaty lumbering for hours each day, but with little relative benefit other than mitigating a few pounds.
In sharp contrast, proper cardio for fat burning is quite a bit higher intensity due to the incline aspect but also shorter in duration. This higher intensity and shorter duration is shockingly much betterfor fat burning than lower intensity and longer duration work. That might sound shocking because it may cut against the grain of everything you have heard, read, or been told. But it’s true. Fighting calorie intake with straight calorie burning is a losing battle. For example, the ever-popular commercial treadmill is still the cornerstone cardio method commonly used by those same minions that loaf along or jog at an unimpressive pace. These people have themselves convinced they are “running”. There are legions taking up rows of cardio equipment every day in every gym across America, all with the same notion that if they stay on for an hour or more that somehow all the fat is going to melt away and reveal a trim waistline. Yet the vast majority of these same people that invest so much time on the equipment ironically still look fat and out of shape.
The reason they get little to no results is that they don’t challenge their system and mount enough intensity to actually raise the baseline resting basal metabolism enough to burn fat stores throughout the day and night. The key is intensity and frequency of cardio and notduration. That’s why Olympic caliber sprinters have ripped abdominals and next to no body fat. In sharp comparison, Olympic distance runners, while thin and gaunt, actually have very little muscle definition and a far higherpercent body fat! Yes HIGHER. To elaborate more, world-class sprinters have relatively large muscles and very low percent body fat. In comparison, the same level champion distance runners are terribly gaunt with flat muscle that lack appreciable mass or definition when compared to sprinters of exponentially shorter distance. That may be shocking you in disbelief but take a minute and look at some images on-line and compare for yourself. Despite the exponentially longer total distances run, they actually tend to have much higher percent body fat. Again, while it may be nothing compared to the average person, it’s a significantly greater amount of body fat when compared to world-class sprinters. It’s a fascinating paradox that you must remember when looking around the gym at others doing conventional cardio and being tempted to climb aboard and mosey along with them in a pool of ineffectual and deceptive sweat that is in no way the metabolism lifting cardio you truly need to augment fat loss in conjunction with diet.
In contrast, proper fat burning cardio heightens muscle activity to such an intensity that a nerve and hormonal change takes place that raises the metabolism of the body away from fat retention and toward fat burning. When done with proper frequency, in addition to incinerating fat, the body actually retains and even increases muscle tone. With the resting metabolic rate being higher, more body fat is burned around the clock, even at rest.
The cardio piece of choice is the StepMill®, or if you don’t have access to a StepMill®, a standard commercial incline set on at least a 10% incline gradient (most standard commercial treadmills go up to a 15% gradient) will do fine. The independently controlled stair climbing motion offered by the StepMill® makes it, by far the best piece of cardiovascular equipment available today. It’s best when not hanging on to or touching the hand railings, allowing your legs to do all the work. That goes for the treadmill as well. Let your legs and hips do all the work by staying off the handrails. Many people opt for stationary bikes and elliptical because they offer a much more forgiving cardio platform that allows for sluggish pacing, so much so that many either clutch the hand rails, hunch over the handlebars, or go so slow they have reading stands so you can flip a magazine. That’s when you know that you’re not working hard enough! The ferocious intensity of the StepMill® is a good thing if you are serious about your fat loss, yet it is so often avoided for precisely this same reason—it’s ferocity. It controls you more than you control it. It’s more like there’s no way out and you are kind of trapped. That’s why gyms have so many treadmills, stationary bikes, and elliptical machines, and so few StepMills®.
The StepMill® is a unique piece of cardio equipment in its innate difficulty (climbing steps). If StepMill® is not an option, treadmill on an incline will be fine. But you must remember to use it on at least a 10% incline and work up to 15%. Also, do NOT run on it. Be sure to walk quickly with long strides. Your stride should be long enough that it nearly covers the entire length of the belt surface. That will create the greatest intensity without having to rely too much on pushing the speed up. For an average sized male or female with approximately 20-30lbs of fat to lose, this will likely put the speed at about 3-5mph. The same rule of not touching the hand railings or hanging on the console applies.That way, either piece of equipment has the added benefit of targeting the muscles of the buttocks and thighs to a far greater degree than any other cardio piece. Amazingly these does this with very low impact and thus less of a chance for injury (unlike running on a flat surface).
Whichever you pick, the goal here is to press yourself in a tightly controlled way so that the experienced physical intensity of the shorter duration cardio stimulates a raise in your resting metabolism. Cardio for fat loss should ideally be performed 5 days each week for short but very intense 20 minute sessions. Be sure your machine is set at a very challenging pace for high intensity of physical exertion. It really doesn’t matter all that much which program you pick, just stay with that same program each time so you always have a good gauge on your intensity. The more important adjustment is the intensity level. As a cautionary note, start on a relatively low level because it’s shocking how even very experienced fitness fanatics find themselves crumbling when they find out, despite all the training they might have done, they don’t have the legs or the muscular endurance yet. In any event, adjust your level to a high enough intensity that you are just barely completing the 20 minutes (remember that you have to perform this session repetitively throughout the week, so don’t over-shoot the mark). It will take some experimenting to get it right.
Once set and on your way, you will see that in a surprisingly short amount of time, your heart rate will rise, your legs will burn like crazy, your lungs will tighten, and you’ll be sweating more than you ever imagined in such a short time. Of course, the benefit is that it’s all over in far less time than you would have otherwise experienced doing conventional cardio for 45 minutes to an hour or more. But again, in the beginning, if you are not used to it, maybe just start at a low level and only 5-10 minutes to give you the feel. Build up from there to where you need to be for intensity. Again, be sure not to hang on the hand railings or drape your body over the railings and/or console to support yourself. This commonly seen silliness only robs the legs and buttocks of the needed workload and thus compromises the intensity level you are able to reach. Perhaps worse is that it gives you a false sense of achievement. Once you work up to the twenty minutes, increase the level of difficulty (NOT the amount of time) from there as aggressively as you can. Remember that the biggest crime made by cardio minions everywhere is to add time before added intensity.
The morale of the story here is that you have to force yourself out of the conventional mindset that “time on cardio” is more important than intensity. Again, remember that if that were true, then all those misinformed people in the gym lumbering along on those treadmills for hours would have the leanest physiques. In reality, it’s the shortened duration and exponentially magnified intensity that really brings about fast, sustainable fat burning. That’s Slimshot System cardio.
In addition to cardio, you must stretch the body out. Inflexibility is at least as common as obesity. Although not quite as dangerous from health standpoint, lack of flexibility is still a prerequisite to injury and certainly limits your ability to effectively burn fat doing cardio. Poor flexibility limits your level of physical activity and the degree to which you can comfortably challenge yourself physically in any way. Stretching is extremely important because quite a number of injuries can be traced to stiffness and limited range of motion. In general, flexibility and functionality go hand-in-hand. You don’t have to overdo it, since just a little stretching after your workouts is all it takes to maximize the benefits of exercise and minimize the likelihood of injury.
What we define as the “core” of the body includes the lower back and hips (the same area that tends to gain all the flab). My focus for flexibility is on this core region of the body. This is not to say that flexibility in all areas of the body is not beneficial, but merely to narrow my focus to what will result in the most dramatic improvements in the shortest period of time. Here are three basic stretches you can try:
Palm & Heel—Start by simply squatting down and placing both palms on the floor directly in front of your toes. While not raising your heels, gradually begin to stand up by straightening your legs. Stand up as much as possible while still keeping both your heels and palms completely in contact with the floor. With very few exceptions, you’ll find that you cannot even come close to standing up completely, but is to be expected. Get your legs as straight as you can while still keeping your palms and heels flat on the ground. Hold it for ~30 seconds. You should feel a gentle stretch through your hamstrings (the back of the legs) and lower back. Follow this by squatting back down for 5-10 seconds and repeating the stretch 2 more times. As your trunk flexibility improves, you will gradually come closer to straightening your legs.
Seated Twist—Seated upright on the floor, stretch your legs out in front of you and cross your right leg over your left leg. Slide your left hand between your thighs and grasp the back of your right leg, just above your knee. Next, reach back behind you and place your right hand on floor ~1 foot behind you and in line with the center of your back. As you do this, allow your upper body to rotate to the right. Be sure and keep your head facing directly straightforward and pointed slightly downward. Hold this position for ~30 seconds, slowly move back to the neutral position, uncross your legs, and repeat the same movement in the opposite direction. This position should be performed 5 times on each side.
Leg Over—Lying flat on the floor, stretch both arms straight out on either side (crucifix position). Begin by bringing your right knee up in the direction of your chest. Touch your right toe to the floor directly on the outside of your left knee. Be sure that both arms and both shoulder blades remain in full contact with the floor at all times. Hold this position for ~30 seconds, slowly move back to the neutral position and repeat the same movement with the other leg in the opposite direction. This is a relatively intense stretch, but should still be performed ~3 times on each side, to the best of your ability.
Working out with resistance and weights is just as important as your cardio over the long haul. While cardio stimulates your metabolism, helps you burn fat best, and strengthens you heart and lungs, “anaerobic” or resistive forms of exercise increase muscular strength and reverse the disease process. Such forms of exercise have been shown to positively influence the body’s hormonal system. Resistive exercise also creates more lean muscle, which makes it easier to lose body fat. Resistive training is more compatible with activities of daily living and thus can dramatically enhance the quality and ease of one’s life. Resistive training also builds physical confidence in one’s body. In addition, there is mounting evidence that resistive training bolsters the immune system and strengthens the body’s internal fortitude in both men and women.
Resistive training traditionally means weight training, but that doesn’t mean you have to have weights to get a workout. In fact, most people that start off are best off just using their own body as resistance. Using resistance to train is probably the single greatest way to sculpt the body you want. Anyone who has ever trained with weights for any reasonable length of time quickly recognizes the benefits and will tell you how effective resistance training is for both men and women.
Interestingly, depending on your goals, you never have to graduate from strictly doing your resistive training without the use of weights or equipment and just using the resistance of your own body. In fact, there are many perfectly good “no weights” routines using just the body. Even so, for most, graduating to machine weights and ultimately free weights offers the highest degree of muscular stimulation. Keep in mind that, although using these weights can add muscular bulk to the body (something most women want to avoid), they can also be used effectively to tone and sculpt the body (especially the belly, buns, and hips in women). Plus, muscle tone itself actually burns fat because muscle cells themselves have a high metabolic need.
Beginner training for fat loss also involves using your own bodyweight as resistance, with a main focus on the lower back, belly, and hips. The core exercises outlined are movements specifically targeted at stimulating the standard static fat gathering areas of the body to, when combined with cardio, help produce the greatest fat loss in the shortest amount of time. These movements can be done right in the comfort of your own home and require no weights, no fancy machines or free weights, and no assistance from anyone. They can be done anywhere you have a soft carpet, a chair, and a wall. It’s that simple. They can be performed just as easily on the go in a hotel room when traveling, as they can in the comfort of one’s own home.
Alternating Elbow Crunch—For this movement, you will need to utilize a chair or the edge of your bed. Lying in a sit-up position with heels on the chair or bed, distance the buttocks just enough from the chair or bed to create a 90 degree angle at the knee. Place both hands behind your head so that the fingertips are both hands are touching each other, but not locked. Point your elbows in the direction of your knees. Lift your head and shoulders off the floor and, as you are lifting, twist your upper body in the direction of the opposite knee. As a result, if you start on the left side, your left elbow should end up in contact with your right thigh. Conversely, from the right, the right elbow should end up in contact with your left thigh. Once contact between your elbow and thigh is made, slowly bring your upper body back down into contact with the ground. Alternate sides on each repetition, completing an equal number in both directions. Note that this is a challenging motion to do correctly (I.e., touching elbow to opposite thigh while maintaining a 90 degree knee angle). Because there are so many golfers with deficiencies in this region, you may find yourself among the many who are unable to get the upper body high enough off the floor to touch elbow to opposite thigh. As a result, just get as high as you can, bringing your elbow as close to the opposite mid-thigh as possible on both sides. As you build up your core strength in this movement through, patience and consistency your strength will rapidly advance develop to the point of successful repetitive execution.
Leg Raise—Lying on a soft carpet, face up with your eyes toward the ceiling, and feet pointed down and away from your body. Place both hands under the lower back/upper buttocks region. Keeping your legs straight, slowly raise both legs off the floor simultaneously to a high of ~30 degrees (relative to your heels, it’s about the height of a chair seat). Hold your legs up in the top position for ~3 seconds and then slowly bring them back down into contact with the ground. Breathe deeply and repeat the movement.
Hip Tilts—Lying with back flat on the ground with arms at one’s sides, bend knees and move heels back along the ground to the distance the back of the knees were when the legs were fully extended. This creates a triangle between the ground, thighs, and lower legs. Keeping both shoulder blades in contact with the ground and heels flat on the ground, lift the hips. The hips should be raised off the ground to the height that a ~80 degree angle is created at the knee joint. A straight line should be clearly detectable from knees to shoulders and a new triangle should be formed between the ground, the lower leg, and the downward sloping straight line formed from knee to shoulder. Hold your hips up off the ground in this position for ~3 seconds and then slowly bring them back down into contact with the ground. Breathe deeply and repeat the movement. Note that for an extra challenge, this same motion can be done with height added under the heels. For example, the golfers with the greatest core strength can successfully execute hip tilt repetitions with their heels elevated on the edge of a chair secured with its back against the wall.
Knee Bends—Begin by standing with your feet apart just outside of shoulder width. Cross your arms and place each hand on the opposite shoulder. Raise your elbows to shoulder level and keep them at that height throughout the motion. Slowly squat down to a comfortable level and return to the top position. Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions. Try and keep your back slightly concave (like a ski slope) and not convex (like the back of a snail). Although you get quite a bit more stimulation in the area of the buns and thighs by getting down low with your buns close to your heels, you must be careful. If you have knee problems of any kind, going down too low can exacerbate the problem. Be careful to do the motion slowly and in a very controlled fashion. Don’t do the motion so rapidly that you are bouncing up and down. Keep a slight bend in your knees even in the standing position. By doing this and not “locking out” the knees, you will put more stress on the muscles of the legs and avoid problems with the knees.
Donkey Kicks—Begin this motion on all fours. Begin by rotating your hips slightly to very slightly raise the knee off the ground of whichever leg you want to begin with. Next, slowly extend the leg back and up in the air behind you as far as you can. Hold it there for a few seconds and then slowly return the leg back to the bottom position. Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions.
After getting confident working with your bodyweight, you might feel you are ready to venture into the gym. If so, the next level from bodyweight work to complement your cardio (and diet, of course) are machine weights. Creating real tone and shape is going to involve a bit more than the cardio, stretching, and bodyweight resistance exercises used in my fat loss approach. Here, resistance is intensified by the use of outside forces in the form of machines and free weights. Lifting weights activates your metabolism for building muscle. If you are woman, that shouldn’t scare you. You are notgoing to build big muscles with this approach. Instead you will shape your body (remember that muscle isshape). On the other hand, guys will tend to build quite a bit more in the way of rock-hard muscle tone under the very same types of stresses and strains. This is simply due to the differences in physiology of the male and female physique coupled with the simplicity of exercises.
Conventional resistance training typically involves either machine weights, free-weights (dumbbells and barbells), or a combination of both. Although machine weights work for almost everyone, for the intermediate making the transition to bodyweight+ resistance training, those with injuries, or people with physical limitations, machines are actually ideal. It’s sort of a less intimidating introduction to the iron. Moreover, there is a lot less to think about with machines when compared to free weights. With machines, the weight is already in the “down position” prior to exerting force, so you don’t have to worry about getting the movement started properly. Unlike free-weights, the “stack” of weights is balanced and on a trestle for you, lending control to the motion throughout its course. Because they are less difficult to operate and less dangerous, you can make-due without a spotter (someone watching you) and can pretty much figure out each machine on your own.
Most weight machines in gyms and fitness centers anywhere in the world have easy-to-read operating instructions on a plastic card mounted on every machine. In addition, most brands are arranged in an order that, from beginning to end, covers the training of your entire body. In other words, by beginning from the first machine and continuing to the last in the sequence, you will have covered the training of every major muscle. This type of training is called “circuit training” and is a highly efficient way of achieving a complete workout in a limited period of time. As a result, machine circuits have become exceedingly popular in nearly every major gym and corporate fitness center in the world.
There are several essential machines to look for as part of any good circuit. They are as follows:
Leg Press Machine—A leg press machine works the thighs and buns. It’s essential and should absolutely be a part of any basic circuit, especially if there is no hamstring machine and only a leg extension machine.
Abdominal Crunch Machine—Covering belly work as part of circuit really makes things convenient, although I tend to favor the old sit-up board. But if there is no sit-up board, an abdominal machine better be part of the circuit.
Chest Press Machine—Working out the chest with machines is best done with a chest press machine as opposed to the fly machine, which is can be tougher and requires a bit more strength to execute properly and not get injured.
Shoulder Press Machine—It’s similar to the chest press, but pushes straight up overhead.
Back Machine—Unlike the chest and shoulder machines, you’ll always be pulling when working back. Whatever machine you are on, just make sure you execute the motion under slow control, squeezing your elbows back behind you.
Triceps Machine—The triceps machine works the back of the arms. I’ve always disliked most brands of triceps machine, but occasionally you get lucky and find a good one that you really feel working.
Biceps Machine—The biceps machine tones the front of the arm. Most biceps curl machines are adequate and serve their purpose well.
As with bodyweight workouts, machine workouts are not appropriate for the advanced, but for intermediates making the transition, it’s great. The following is basic circuit workout should be performed three times each week. Although it only lists the basic machines, a proper circuit in any good gym should have quite a few more pieces of equipment as part of the circuit. At first, perform only a single set at each station. Just remember that, if you decide to skip any one station, don’t miss the essential ones I list here. Also, be sure to read each instruction card (usually on each machine) very carefully so that the machine is adjusted properly. If you are not sure, ask a trainer (that’s their job!). Finally, keep track of both the seat adjustments and the weights you use. Be sure and increase the amount of weight you use as you get stronger. Finding the proper weight to use can take a little experimenting over a couple of workouts, but you’ll figure it out. Just start with a light weight and adjust the weight upward from there. Be careful to make sure that the weight is sufficiently heavy so as to allow for the last couple of repetitions of each set to be challenging.
As I pointed out earlier, although bodyweight resistance workouts can suffice in a lot of ways and machine weights are good for many purposes, ultimately the greatest metabolic activation for toning and shaping the body is achieved using free weights. I usually like to see people make a progression to free weight training from these other, simpler forms of resistance training. In most every situation, there should be a gradual progression and, ultimately, a clear preference toward the use of free weights because the benefits of simplicity these simpler forms offer ultimately prove to be the limiting factor.
With free weights, you must control the bar or dumbbell, balance, and move the weight smoothly through the range of motion. For these reasons, when pushed far enough, free weights require the incorporation and recruitment of far deeper muscle fibers. This is a much taller order than working with just your body as resistance or working on a machine. It is for these reasons that free weight exercises tend to ultimately be more beneficial for both men and women.
Just remember that free weight training is really an art-form and, if possible, getting some instruction from a trainer with at least 10 years of free-weight experience is a great idea. Such a trainer can start you on machine weights and then gradually incorporate more free-weight motions to the point that free weight training is the predominant resistive work you are doing, with machine weights only part of your routine as an adjunct. Unlike machines, which offer a finite variety of exercises to choose from, with free weights, the sky is the limit. There are countless different exercises you can do with free weights.
Even so, despite the limitless variability of free weight movements, there are still some basic movements that have stood the test of time and are clearly preferential. As such, they should form the basis of your free weight routine. The basic free weight exercises are as follows:
Barbell Squat—Squats are great for toning the thighs. Stand up and place the bar across your shoulders with both hands on the bar in a comfortable place. In the same way you do a knee bend, slowly squat down to a comfortable level and return to the top position. Try and keep your back slightly concave (like a ski slope) and not convex (like the back of a snail). Although you get quite a bit more stimulation in the area of the buns and thighs by getting down low with your buns close to your heels, you must be careful. If you have knee problems of any kind, going down too low can exacerbate the problem. Be careful to do the motion slowly and in a very controlled fashion. Don’t do the motion so rapidly that you are bouncing up and down. Keep a slight bend in your knees even in the standing position. By doing this and not “locking out” the knees, you will put more stress on the muscles of the legs and avoid problems with the knees. Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions.
Barbell Deadlift—This movement is great for the lower back, buns, and back of the thighs. Stand up, reach down, and pick up the barbell with your grip just outside of shoulder-width. Bend your knees slightly and keep them bent throughout the movement. Slowly lower the bar toward your feet, making sure that the bar tracks very close to your knees and shins. If the bar drifts too far forward or in front of you, you can strain your lower back, so be careful. Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions.
Chin-up—The purist would consider a chin up to be categorized as a bodyweight resistance movement and not a free weight movement. Although this is quite true, the level of difficulty and the fact that you can add resistance to the movement makes it more appropriately categorized as a free weight exercise. Place your hands on a hanging just wider than shoulder width. Hang freely first and then pull with your arms, lifting your chin toward the bar. Contact the bar with the bottom of your chin, and then slowly lower your body to the hanging position. Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions. You can use wrist wraps or other gripping gadgets if your grip is little weak. Also, if the free hanging chin up is too difficult, use a counterbalanced chin machine or lat-pulldown machine until you build up enough strength to do chins.
Barbell Bench Press—Barbell bench press is key movement to strengthen and tone the muscles of the chest and upper body. Lie down on the bench press. With feet firmly on the ground and evenly spaced, place your hands on the bar comfortably outside of shoulder width. Lift the bar off the rack supports and slightly forward. Slowly lower the bar to your chest and press it back up. Try not to lock out your elbows completely at the top of the movement. Keeping a slight bend in your elbows acts like a shock absorber. Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions.
Dumbbell Incline Press—This movement focuses on the upper chest. Using dumbbells, lie back on an incline bench with the dumbbells at the level of you shoulders and palms facing forward. Press upward, extending toward the ceiling. At the top of the movement, try not to lock out your elbows completely. Slowly lower the dumbbells back down to your shoulders and repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions.
Dumbbell Shoulder Press—This movement tones the shoulders and upper arms. In either a standing or seated position, with dumbbells at shoulder level, press them straight up overhead, extending toward the ceiling. At the top of the movement, try not to lock out your elbows completely. Slowly lower the dumbbells back down to your shoulders and repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions.
Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise—Side lateral raises really strengthen and shape up the shoulder. In the standing position with dumbbells in hands at your sides and your arms straight, raise your arms out to the sides and up to the level of your shoulders. Slowly lower them back to your sides. Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions.
Dumbbell Triceps Extension—This movement isolates and tones the back of the arms. Using only one arm at a time, raise a light dumbbell straight overhead. Slowly lower it behind you back, toward the back of shoulder on the same side. Extend the arm back up toward the ceiling. Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions.
Dumbbell Biceps Curl—This movement isolates and tones the front of the arms. In either a standing or seated position, with dumbbells in hands at your sides and your arms straight, turn the palms facing forward. Curl the weight up to your shoulder and slowly lower back down. Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions.
People of every level of fitness and experience can work-out and get great results with free weights. The only difference is that, the less experienced you are, the more guidance you need. When new at free-weights, having a trainer show you the ropes until you get the hang of it is a terrific idea. But that, by no means, should prevent you from diving in and trying it. Just don’t go too heavy, train in strict form, and listen to your body. The following free-weight resistance routine is a sample of how an intermediate routine might look. Note that there should be about a minute rest between each set.