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  1. #11
    Senior Member lauranna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EJCC View Post
    I've never been athletic. I manage to stay at a healthy weight by eating well and leading a lifestyle that involves lots of walking. I tried running, once, and I went about it completely the wrong way, so I had no fun and gave up after a few months. But as of the day after tomorrow, I'm going to try again, Monday/Wednesday/Friday mornings, with my roommate. (I bought running shorts and everything!)

    This anticipated change in lifestyle got me thinking about my lack of upper body strength, since my day-to-day physical activity is lower body only. I figure, since I'm making this big change in terms of lower body strength and aerobic exercise, I might as well fix this other problem too. (Maybe I could go to the gym on Tuesday and Thursday mornings and pump some iron.)

    So... if you have absolutely zero upper body strength, how do you go about trying to create it? I can't do real push-ups (only girl ones), and I'm pretty horrible at sit-ups too. I also have extremely limited knowledge of gym equipment, and -- most importantly -- how to use it over time, and how to check your progress with weights etc. Again, I'm essentially starting from nothing, so I have no gym experience, and, frankly, no idea what it feels like to have a fit upper body.
    Hey EJCC,

    If you are starting from scratch and clueless with weights, probably most of these responses don't mean a lot to you.
    If you are serious about improving upper body strength, you need to take a serious approach. If you meander around a gym aimlessly doing different weights at random, your programme has no structure to it and you won't notice results.
    I would advise you see a professional or someone you know who has a lot of experience with weights and knows what they are doing. It is possible to see a personal trainer for a couple of sessions to get you started, learn the basics, get them to give you a structured weights programme and then work on this programme by yourself.
    It really isn't complicated and doesn't need to be just to build up upper body strength, but it would help you to have someone who knows what they are doing show you as technique is really important when working with weights so you don't injure yourself.
    So get someone to show you the exercises. Probably best to work on 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps with a minute rest between each set as someone mentioned earlier.
    So for example you might start with shoulder press. Pick two dumbells and figure out what is the right weight so you can do more than 8 but no more than 12. Then do 3 sets with a minute break in between each. By the third set you may be struggling to do 8 but just do as many as you can.
    The important thing about improving strength is to push yourself every single time. Every time you do this programme you should try and do an extra rep. I take a little diary with me to the gym and I write down what weight i lifted and how many reps. So I know next time what i have to improve on. When you can do 12, then move up to a heavier weight and go through it all again.
    If you structure it you will definitely improve your strength. Even over a few weeks you will definitely notice a difference.

    Most important thing anyone ever taught me was to write it down. And keep it structured. This should be easy for an ESTJ!

    After a weights session, your muscles need protein, so either eat some form of protein as soon as possible after the session (preferably within 20 mins) Or buy a tub of Whey Protein powder and mix with water and drink after your session. It is the easiest way and if you buy plain whey protein, it is just like eating a chicken breast, it isn't like some kind of get massive body building supplement. And your muscles will need protein to get stronger.

    Overall though, I would suggest you get someone to show you how to use weights as it can be kind of scary the first time and there is a risk of injury if you don't get the technique right. Once you know what you are doing though, it is very straightforward and addictive!

    Good luck!

  2. #12

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    Push ups off the knees are still effective, you're only reducing the load by changing leverage. I don't understand what your limits are in terms of equipment and time. Tell me that. But anyway, one effective trick is to lower slowly to build up strength, increase reps over time and then try moving to the next level.

    Here is an example,
    Push ups off the knees. Steady tempo, 4 beats down, 4 beats up.
    Push up off the knees. Slow down, quick up.
    Push ups off the knees. Push up off the knees, 3x3 holds on the way down and quick up.
    Push ups knees off the floor down, on the floor up.
    Push ups, steady tempo
    and so on, changing leverage all the way up to feet elevated.

  3. #13
    Junior Member Hyena's Avatar
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    I had a pretty weak upper body pretty much through all of high school. I didn't get into lifting until college started (fall 2009), and I had a pretty weak frame back then at 5'11" 155. I'm around 6'1" 180 right now thanks to training hard and smart. So I can level with you (I think!).

    I don't know what your specific goals are, but based on personal experience...

    What's going to get you a stronger upper body quickest is heavy compound lifts. It's a great place to begin. Start with the key ones - bench press, rows, military press, push ups, pull ups, squats, dead lifts, etc. The last two I mentioned are obviously more focused on the lower body, but they'll increase your body's natural GH output faster than anything else because they recruit muscle fibers like none other. Programs such as Starting Strength are terrific resources for people who are just getting started with strength training.

    And sprints are your friend too. High intensity interval training allowed me to cut fat while putting on lean muscle.

  4. #14
    Earth Exalted Thursday's Avatar
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    push ups while you hold in the up and down position for as long as you can. You can do this after a small set of push-ups to gain leaner but more enduring muscles.
    I N V I C T U S

  5. #15
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    I think a great introduction to upper body strengthening will come from going to the gym on the Tuesday and Thursday mornings as you said and go to the machine section of the weight room. Often times you'll see a human picture with muscles highlighted to show which area of the upper body is being targeted. To me, those are the best methods to getting started for a few reasons;

    1.) You can easily change the weight by pulling out a pin and sticking it into the desired resistance.
    2.) It usually emphasizes good form because it's more isolated.
    3.) It's really easy to keep track of how much weight you are doing for future reference.
    4.) The roid dudes will never be found on the machines and will leave you alone.

    Chest:



    Tricep:



    Lateral Pull Downs (Back):



    Seat Rows (Back):



    The max number of videos allowed for a post us 4 so I have to end it here. Good luck!

  6. #16
    insert random title here Randomnity's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    I'm doing P90, which has some yoga mixed in; one day cardio, one day toning.
    Yeah, I like to pick and choose the P90x videos (or I would, if I was actually still motivated enough to do them lately). There's a shoulders and arms workout and a chest and back workout (or something along those lines). Some of them involve pullups but those could be replaced with resistance bands or even an unrelated exercise.

    Girl pushups are better than nothing, and if you stick with those regularly, you should be able to get to regular pushups eventually (and even if not, you'll still build some muscle, even though it likely won't be visible).

    I should really put more effort into this sometime too, since everything I do activity-wise is mostly lower body, like you.
    -end of thread-

  7. #17
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Randomnity View Post
    Girl pushups are better than nothing, and if you stick with those regularly, you should be able to get to regular pushups eventually (and even if not, you'll still build some muscle, even though it likely won't be visible).
    Yes, I could actually feel some strength building up when I was doing the pushups regularly.

    I should really put more effort into this sometime too, since everything I do activity-wise is mostly lower body, like you.
    So far I haven't really gotten much upper-body mass developed from doing the workouts (with resistance bands), which is good... but I'm definitely getting stronger. I just have a little concern about it, I don't want mass up there, so we'll see what happens.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  8. #18
    insert random title here Randomnity's Avatar
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    oh, in my head I was aiming that more towards EJCC, but I can see that I didn't really do that effectively, haha.

    But yeah, it seems pretty common for women to have low upper body strength, even compared to men who don't exercise at all (grr). It's annoying.
    -end of thread-

  9. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by UniqueMixture View Post
    You want rest days between workouts. Also, weights before cardio.
    Really? Weights before cardio? This is interesting.

  10. #20
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    If you burn all your energy before you try to lift, you won't have the energy to lift -- I assume.

    So you lift, then use cardio to burn whatever energy you haven't used.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

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