I love lifting weights. There is something so satisfying in it. I always feel good when I’m finished, like I accomplished something worthwhile even though all I did was pick things up and put them down. Even though I do that all day long with a 30lb boy and an 18lb girl, I just really love going to the gym.
I haven’t had much experience with public gyms. Most of my gym workouts were during private team sessions, but I have been a member of a local gym for nearly a year now and it didn’t take me long to realize I may have been breaking some kind of unwritten rule. It seems that most females steer clear of the weights, opting for the cardio side of the room. It’s quite amusing to me to observe the distinct line between the seemingly “male side” and “female side”. It’s even more amusing when I enter into the “wrong” zone. I have been an athlete and in athletic circles most of my life and most of the girls I knew lifted weights. It is a new experience to feel out of place where I have always felt comfortable as a result of the strange looks I get upon entering the weight side of the the gym. (Is this only in the gym I go to or is this universal in public gyms?). The guys stop all their idle chit-chat and the women glance over curiously and I end up feeling quite self-conscious so I ended up trying to get in and get out pretty quickly. It wasn’t a conscious decision initially; I just wanted to be done so I could leave, but it resulted in a nice workout routine that I have stuck with.
I like it because it is challenging, it keeps me constantly busy, it works my entire body, and it only takes 30 minutes.
I will not be sharing photos of these exercises as there is a plethora of pictures of people who enjoy posting themselves working out all over the internet so if you need a reference for any of these exercises, I’m positive you can easily find great examples ;-).
Shoulders, Arms, and Back
6 rep max each with free weights:
Single-Arm Lateral Raise (do one arm, then the other)
Standing Rear Deltoid Flys
1 minute rest: do 6-8 pull ups (I hate wandering around a gym between sets)
Continue with 6 rep max weights:
Palms-In Shoulder Press
Lying Rear Deltoid Raise
1 minute rest: do 6-8 pull ups
Rotator Cuff [being a former swimmer, I am a stickler about healthy shoulders]:
Grab a set of dumbbells less than 5 lbs. (I use 2 lbs), find a bench and lie on your stomach. This is a lot like the YMCA dance, only horizontally. You will make a Y with your arms and body, keeping arms in line with your body and parallel with the ground. Then you will make a T shape, then an I shape which means you will be in a streamline position (swimming term!). Y,T,I = 1 rep. Do 2 sets, 10reps each.
Legs, Butt, and Abs
10 reps Box Jumps (10 up and 10 down)
(Grab a Bosu ball, a kettle bell, and a mat).
Single Leg Squat on Bosu ball (10 reps on one leg, then the other)
6-8 rep max Wide stance squat (on the ground) with kettle bell.
Hit the mat and do some crunches. I mix this up often but always work lower, oblique, and upper muscles in that order. Examples:
25 hip raises with knees at 90 degrees (lower)
25 with knees at 90 degrees, legs resting together on the mat to my right, then to my left (oblique)
25 in sit-up position, touching left elbow to right knee, then switching (oblique)
25 with legs straight out (upper)
50 bicycle (oblique)
2 x 30 seconds of “6 Inches” (lower) [Lay flat on back, place hands palm down between your hips and the mat. Lift legs 6″ off the ground and kick like you are swimming for your life]
2 x 10 Jackknife (all) [laying on back with legs straight and arms straight overhead resting on the floor, simultaneously raise arms and legs until your toes and finger tips meet in a near pike position, then lower to floor. Your sacrum will be your pivot point. Vary speed and length of time holding the position]
Repeat entire leg and ab set one time.
I don’t do all of that ab work in one workout. I mix it up and choose a few for each muscle group. Lastly, I do some flattening work. All those crunches can actually make you wider from a side view because you are growing muscle or in my case, also been pregnant a few times. So to help keep my belly button and my spine close friends I finish by lying on the mat and drawing my muscles into my spine as closely as I can. Pretend you are trying to touch your belly button to your spine. This will look to everyone else like you are resting, but you are actually doing deep muscle work. I hold for as long as I can and repeat 10-15 times. If you have been doing crunches and haven’t been getting the results you hoped for or you’ve still got the baby pouch, skip the crunches and do these instead. All day long. When you walk from the parking lot to the grocery store. When you wash dishes at the kitchen sink. Anytime you can. Nobody will ever know you’re doing it and you’ll be getting a flatter belly by the day.
One ab exercise I never do is a standard crunch with knees bent in the typical sit-up position because it uses leg muscles more than abdominal muscles.
There you have it! My 30 minute mommy-friendly, work-friendly, busy-life friendly gym routine. And it doesn’t even have to be done in a gym. It could be done in your basement or garage or your living room with a few easily stored and simple equipment purchases. All you would need to start is 2 pairs of dumbbells, a wooden box (easily buildable), door frame pull-up bar, Bosu ball, and a kettle bell.
Disclaimer: I am an exercise physiologist and not a doctor. Please consult your personal physician before beginning this or any exercise program.