Here are answers to frequent questions about weightlifting at Give Me Strength. If you have other questions, contact Janet.
Am I going to bulk up and look all muscle-y if I do this?
In a word, no. You will get firmer and leaner, but you aren’t going to look muscle-bound. Hormones will make men bulk up, but women won’t. Even world-class Olympic weightlifting athletes look like normal—though amazingly strong and quick—human beings. Look up Tara Nott Cunningham (USA Weightlifting story & video), for example.
What are the workouts like?
The workouts consist of a series of lifts—with rests between sets—followed by exercises for abdominal and other core muscles. Our focus is on barbell lifts, and each class meets twice weekly. You can see the lifts in videos with links at the bottom of this page. For the most part, these are the strength-building lifts that Olympic weightlifters do in support of the competition lifts, which are called the clean-and-jerk and the snatch. The amount of weight lifted and number of repetitions vary by the individual and by workout. Most of the lifts can be adapted to accommodate various physical limitations.
Who can do these workouts?
Most adults can do and benefit from these workouts. It’s always a good idea to review the PAR-Q test to see whether you need to check with a physician first. Clients, who include both men and women, at Give Me Strength range from their 20s to 80s, with most in their 40s, 50s or 60s.
Do I have to have experience?
No. Coach Janet Majure will provide complete instruction. She will start you off light and focus on technique and then start adding weight.
Do I need any particular clothes or equipment?
No. Any comfortable clothing with a little bit of give works. You can wear sweat pants, gym shorts, yoga pants etc. and a T-shirt plus basic supportive shoes. Janet provides the weights and ancillary equipment. If you like, you can bring your own mat for the abdominal exercises.
Isn’t weightlifting dangerous?
Surprise! Weightlifting turns out to cause fewer injuries that other sports, and the most frequent cause of injury is dropping weights on oneself. Any activity carries some risk—but so does inactivity. And the strength you gain through weightlifting will actually reduce your odds of hurting yourself in other pursuits.
Why should I care about getting stronger?
Virtually every authoritative guide to physical health recommends both strength and aerobic activities. (Here are health.gov guidelines.) If you aren’t working at strength, you are losing muscle and bone tissue, and you are gaining fat. Bone mass peaks in your 20s. You start gaining body fat in your 30s. Total muscle mass decreases starting in your 40s. If you aren’t building strength, before you know it, you are going to find yourself having a harder time with everyday activities from getting out of a chair to carrying groceries. Weightlifting builds muscle and bone and reduces your body fat ratio. And it makes you look good and feel good. A bonus for people who start young: they’ll be ahead of the game when the body starts giving up some of its muscle and bone tissue.
Can I just do machines at the gym?
Using the various strength apparatus at the gym definitely can increase strength. Our workouts have some added advantages:
- They require skill, which makes them more interesting and mentally challenging.
- The skills learned in weightlifting transfer to daily activities.
- You work out with a small group of supportive fellow lifters.
- You get attention from the coach at every session.
- Because most lifts use multiple muscle groups, you get a good overall workout in a short amount of time.
I run, so can I just do upper body work?
Not a good idea. Did you know that running won’t maintain your leg strength as you age? Sad but true.
Is this the same as CrossFit or maybe BodyPump?
Although there is some overlap in terms of movements, these are distinctly different programs. At Give Me Strength, we are all about strength. Here, you almost certainly will gain more strength than you would through CrossFit or BodyPump, and you work at your own pace instead of to music or to a leader’s instructions. In contrast, CrossFit and BodyPump are more or less continuous-activity workouts.
Is this the same as bodybuilding?
No. Again, we’re all about strength; bodybuilding is all about appearance. In general, a bodybuilder is stronger than someone who doesn’t do strength training but not as strong as a weightlifter. You can’t really tell how strong someone is by looking at them!
Where can I find out more?