Sisters In Iron

My skinny arms before weight training (and back when I was blonde)

I’ve spoken with so many women that are afraid of the weight room. I also notice the stares of confusion and awe  from other women in the upstairs stretching area looking down on me while I train. What is it about the weight room that scares women away? Is it the big sweaty men, the ‘complicated’ machines, the lack of female energy? For me, it was probably all of the above: I was afraid of being the only girl in the weight room and embarrassing myself as I tried to uncover the mysteries of the machines. How did I overcome my fear? One day a few months ago my dad (check his awesome writing out here) came to visit and askedme for a tour of our Student Rec Center. My dad loves doing weights, so of course I couldn’t skip the weight room. So for the first time ever, with my dad by my side for protection in case the scary weight room decided to attack, I ventured into the unknown. And ya know what? It wasn’t so bad. I didn’t getting any evil “what are you doing here?” glares. Maybe it was all in my head?

In the days that followed with my morbid fear now just a mild phobia, I came across the December 2011 issue of Oxygen magazine. At the time I saw it on the news stand, thinking it was just a generic fitness magazine, but picked it up because I wanted something to read while I trudged through my daily cardio, and I was impressed by the physique of the woman on the cover.

I read that magazine cover to cover, each page in awe of the lean, muscular women demonstrating weight-training techniques. Split routine, superset, drop set… This wasn’t just another generic fitness magazine, this was a woman’s weight-training bible. My first time reading the magazine I felt like I was getting a glimpse into a whole new world with a whole new language. I don’t think I even mentally absorbed half the content. What I did take away though, was that I wanted to start. I didn’t want to be “skinny fat” any longer!Included in the magazine was a beginner-friendly total-body routine that required only a bench and dumbbells. I copied it down and took it to the gym with me. I hesitantly performed the routine once through in my own little corner next to the mirrors (I would work up the courage to conquer the machines another day). When I finished I felt so empowered!

I got a subscription to Oxygen, and through it I discovered Tosca Reno’s Eat-Clean Diet books. I read the entire series over Christmas Break. Reading The Eat-Clean Diet Workout, I learned the basics of weight training, along with a list of illustrated exercises that target each body part. After reading that, I developed my own routine involving the weight machines. At first it was just a simple full-body routine three times a week. When I learned more exercises, I moved on to a two-day split: upper body one day, lower body another day. Just recently, wanting to do even more exercises for each body part, I moved on to a three-day split (see below).

The weight machines turned out to be simpler than I thought. No one laughed at me when I couldn’t figure them out, and usually when people saw me struggling, they just kindly offered their assistance. Others were off in their own training world and didn’t even notice me.

Me after 3 months of weight training!

Two days ago was my 3-month weight training anniversary! 🙂

To put it in Tosca Reno’s words, that is how I became a “Sister In Iron.” To become a Sister In Iron, all you have to do is lift your first weight. “Like” this post if you a Sister In Iron, and join us if you aren’t yet!

My 3-day split:

  • Day One: Chest, Triceps, Shoulders
  • Day Two: Back, Biceps
  • Day Three: Legs

I do Abs whenever I feel like it/have time. I take a rest day about once a week, but its hardly ever planned — I just listen to my body and my schedule to decide when its time to take a day off. Today, for example, after my mild shoulder injury a few days ago, I decided to do cardio only instead of adding on chest, triceps and shoulders. My shoulder is feeling much better, and hopefully I will be able to return to my normal routine tomorrow.

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