Strenght / Gym Training

1 to 20 of 27 messages
SheTRI    pirate
10/10/2012 at 20:56

Hello everyone,

I need help understanding how to progress with my fitness.

I only started regular exercise at the beginning of the year (for the first time in my life!) and joined a running club and did a few sprint triathlons during the summer, finishing with the London Tri Olympic Distance in September.

Since I started training I lost just over 2 stones (am quite tall) AND started to realize a few months back that I NEED TO ADDRESS my weak core which is playing a huge disadvantage in my training.

Also with loosing weight I would like to add some definition to the upper part of my body.

So I know that I could really benefit with Pilates and have found a suitable class which I can attend weekly. But wondered if this is enough to gain some muscle definition or only weights will do?

And if I do weights training is once a week enough?

Im trying to cram a lot of different training on a weekly basis and need to find the most useful and efficient way of doing it.

Thank you in advance

Edited: 10/10/2012 at 20:58
11/10/2012 at 10:05

Hi SC,

Pilates will be VERY good for your core, that's pretty much why it was invented. if you want some muscular definition too (esp upper body which often gets neglected by runners) then you'd need to do regular weights (exercise the same muscle groups at least a couple of times a week). Adaptations will be very slow if you leave it 7 days in between workouts. However, presumably you're less interested in pure bulk, so you don't need to work yourself into the ground with heavy weights. For strength and definition, rather than size/bulk, focus on more repetitions with lighter weights (not too light - you should be able to do somewhere in the region of 15-20 reps with a given weight. If you can do considerably more, then increase the weight until this range is about right).

There's no one way to workout, so play around with it, and have fun (it's not supposed to be a chore). I'd suggest that compound movements will be best if you're interested in running and tri's. Single movement exercises that isolate a particular muscle or muscle group are very effective on the area under stress, but you need all round strength, you're not (presumably) aiming to have enormous biceps. There are lots of different ways you can do compound weight training, e.g. using kettle balls, using the wire machines at the gym that allow a greater range of movement with the resistance training, doing plyometrics (explosive exercises) will also serve you very well. Play around with it a bit, keep the weights light at first so you don't injure yourself, and if in doubt, ask advice from someone at the gym, either staff or punter, rather than putting your back out.

Have fun

11/10/2012 at 10:08

forgot to mention, since you do triathlons, lots of swimming will give you a pretty sculpted upper body too. you don't see many fat elite swimmers. they have long, lean muscles for a reason. But then again, the elites do HOURS of training every day, and drill after drill after drill, so they're somewhat different to the middle aged lady "dry hair" swimmers you might see down your local pool.

12/10/2012 at 13:57

Sorry to hijack trhead but what are the best gym exercises to strength legs for longer runs? (1st marathon next year)

12/10/2012 at 13:58



Bench press

Row/Chin up



12/10/2012 at 14:01

ah would not have guessed the last two ... why the upper body focus?

12/10/2012 at 14:05

Your body is a system. Apart from the fact that by not training your upper body (which does not take anything away from the recovery of your lower body -- and therefore does not predjudice your running) you potentially lose out on the ability to correct core* and postural issues, systems don;t like being out of whack. By not training your upper body at all, you will limit how strong you can make your lower body/core.

*core does not = abs. It refers to all supporting muscles... your shouler complex, for example.

12/10/2012 at 14:07

...Also, pilates might be OK for a beginner, but beyond a certain point, no amount of planks and silly-named-contortions will provide your 'core' with the level of strength as say, a heavy set of squats.

12/10/2012 at 14:45

good facts. thank you.

12/10/2012 at 16:52

I started a bit of Core work a while ago, I had a hip flexor injury which I found out was largely compounded by Core weakness. I started off by using "planks" and a few different sit ups and that helped to protect it. I work on Core strengh 3 or 4 times a week, just simple stuff that you can do at home - for example to start with I used sets of 10 press ups followed by a 20 second plank and then repeated. I did a similar thing with sit ups and leg lifts although I found sit ups easier so 20 sit ups, 20 second leg lift and so on. Weights will give you a lot of benefit but as you say, you haven't got time to do weights all the time, this other stuff might help in between?

cougie    pirate
12/10/2012 at 16:55
SomeOldDog wrote (see)

...Also, pilates might be OK for a beginner, but beyond a certain point, no amount of planks and silly-named-contortions will provide your 'core' with the level of strength as say, a heavy set of squats.

Have you done Pilates SOD ?

12/10/2012 at 17:00

Yep. Gave it a go for a while. Can't say it's gonna help me deadlift 180kg or squat 140kg though. So what's the point?

Most people I know who do pilates would struggle to knock out 40 decent press ups in a sinlge set, or plank for 2-3 minutes... and let's be honest, if that's the limit of control over their body, it's no wonder pilates is challenging for them. But beyond a fairly rudimentary level of strength and conditioning, pilates is just a waste of time.

That is of course my personal opinion and not intended to offend/insult. (On the off chnace you are  apilates instructor, or something!!!)

cougie    pirate
12/10/2012 at 17:11

Pilates wont let you deadlift 180kg - but then again why should it ? Completely different things altogether.  If you want to be a weightlifter - train like one. 

My wife teaches Pilates to an advanced level and some of the things that the advanced classes do are tough. Certainly as tough as you'd need to go for running. 

Building masses of extra muscle bulk isnt necessary for endurance running - just sprinting. 

SC - you can get a 6 pack through Pilates - but only if your body fat is low enough to let it show through - thats the tricky bit. 

12/10/2012 at 17:15

Classic flaw in your arguement. You don't need 'masses of muscle' to be strong. Certainly, to be strong enough to squat and or deadlift at least 1.5x your bodyweight.

I didn't say pilates would help me/anyone DL or squat heavy weight... which is why I think for most people it's a waste of time.

What I am saying is...that 'heavy' is a relative concept for everyone, and that a 'heavy' set of squats (whether that be 30kg or 300kg) is likely to challenge your core more, and teach you how to use your core in a fucntional sense, a lot better than wriggling about on the floor with your legs in the air, so to speak.

SheTRI    pirate
12/10/2012 at 17:18

Thanks for your replies but oh so confused with the debatable is pilates alone good enough??

I do swim at least once a week so Im starting to see a little definition on my deltoideus, brachioradialis, deltoid and teres (? had to google the names ).

But there are some areas that I would like to improve and I m not aiming to get a six pack or a great bulk like a body builder but my aims is to

1* would like to get a definite more sculpted look on the upper body mainly, arms, shoulder etc (this is purely for aesthetic purposes)

2* pure core strenght (this are a necessity)

I dont want to find exercises that I can do at home as just cant and wont. 

Now seems that Pilates is not good enough or is it? So does it mean that I have to do gym for both core and upper body definition?

Im really confused please help!

Edited: 12/10/2012 at 17:20
12/10/2012 at 17:21

I think you're missing my point:

Pilates might be useful for you, if you have absolutely zero base conditioning or core strength.

If you have a decent level of strength and conditioning, it's time to graduate to from the foam mat in front of your TV, to the squat rack in your garage.

Though personally, I'd skip the first step.

Edited: 12/10/2012 at 17:22
SheTRI    pirate
12/10/2012 at 17:33

OK SOL I dont know what you mean by base conditioning as I am new to training.


I run twice a week, swim once at week, and cycle once a week (at least). I m making good fast progress considering I only been training under a year.

I have weak core.

I dont exercise in front of telly in fact I barely watch any telly. I dont know if you have a stereotype woman exercising in your mind, with mascara and lipstick on and singing when working out, but that's not me

I like a training schedule (not if and when . garage, sitting room etc) and want to do it with some form of guidance that will push me and check my posture while Im doing it as we all know you can do the same exercise 1000 wrong you have jsut waisted your time.

So for the enth time my question is and apologies if I was not clear enough :

1* Will Pilates alone address my core issue - PS I do not want my husband to be able to jump on my stomach while I tense

2* Will Pilates give me visible (but not bulk or  6 pack) upper body definition?
If the answet to this question is NO go to question 3

3* Will GYM exercise once a week give me definition? (wont be able to go more than once a week with all the rest going on)

And while we are at it...

If GYM once a week WILL give me definition can I get same or better core strenght by using GYM rathe than Pilates??

Phew Thank you !


Edited: 12/10/2012 at 17:33
12/10/2012 at 17:33

I tell you what though, you can't beat getting out in the snow carrying tree trunks like in Rocky IV.

12/10/2012 at 17:42

Chill out! I'm not sterotyping anyone... except pilates practioners (and even then only in jest).

Answering your questions in turn:

1. In my opinion, no. In the opinion of the other guy in this thread, yes. So you can either pick whosever arguement is more persuasive to you, or trial both and see. One thing worth bearing in mind is that you don't need to go to a gym to squat. A set of dumb bells or kettle bells can be picked up very cheaply and used at home.

2. No. Neither will the gym.

3. Again no. You level of muscular definition is a function of what you eat -- and NOTHING else. That is, your bodyfat needs to be low enough to see what's underneath it. Fat people do pilates. Fat people go to the gym. Fat people might be good at either or both or those activites. BUT, fat people do not have visible abs. Because they're fat.

It seems like your body fat is important to you (it is to me too, I like having abs). Get a book called the Paleo Solution. Don't take it too seriously... It's not the be and end all, but it's a good start.

Edited: 12/10/2012 at 17:44
cougie    pirate
12/10/2012 at 17:49

My wife has coached one of her students who qualified for the Age Group Worlds this year - clearly she's done shed loads of Running, Swimming and Biking, but the Pilates has brought her back from a back injury and at the beginning of the year she wasnt even running. 

Doing Pilates just once a week isnt enough TBH and I agree with SOD  about the bodyfat as I said before. 

You do need how to do the moves properly though - so certainly a class is important to begin with. Once you're confident - practice at home or get a 1 to 1 booked and you'll get a custom set of exercises to do with that. 

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