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weight lifting
Fitness
Published Saturday Aug 25, 2018 by Brittany Raine

Real-Life Lessons I Learned About Lifting

Fitness
Strength Training
Personal Growth

I’ve always been active. Soccer, basketball, hiking, yoga—you name it. But, when it came to my workouts, I felt like something was missing. I wasn’t getting the results I was working so hard for, and my competitive nature was starting to waver in my late twenties. I needed a new challenge. That’s when I pushed myself to lift weights. 

Don’t get me wrong; it was easier said than done. I believed every negative stigma about strength training making you bulky (cue big biceps) and I felt extremely nervous about casually strolling into my gym’s weight room. From the first time I had the courage to pick up that barbell, I uncovered my new passion and discovered a world of body positive benefits.

Looking back now, I was totally out of my comfort zone. I had no clue what I was doing. But, I wouldn’t let that empty barbell defeat me. After reevaluating my workout routine and reading some female-focused weightlifting success stories, I knew that I wanted to lift, and lift heavy. That was over two years ago.  

There was, and continues to be, something motivating about adding weight to the barbell. Each plate, each additional rep shows how far I’ve come, how confident I have become, and how strong I really am—both mentally and physically. Plus, I’m finally embracing my curves (woo!). I began as the nervous girl who couldn’t squat weight, and now I’m not afraid to load up those 45 lb plates. 

If you’re ready to take on a new challenge and try weightlifting, here are five real-life lessons I learned when I started lifting:

 

1- Be patient.

That first time you try to squat, bench, row, press, etc. with an empty barbell, it might not be easy. It wasn’t for me. Don’t feel defeated and don’t be afraid. You might not look badass, but you’re not going to pack on the plates right away. Hey, if an unloaded barbell is 45 lbs, it will take a few gym sessions to feel comfortable moving correctly with it. Have patience; you’ll get there. If the empty barbell is heavy and you’re struggling, that’s okay, too. Ask your gym or instructor if they have a practice bar you can borrow. It’s so important that you get your movements down and feel comfortable doing them first. Weight will come. No matter what you’re trying to accomplish, everyone needs to start somewhere.  

 

2- Form first. 

Just like it’s essential to have proper form when it comes to your yoga poses, moving the right way is crucial to lifting weights and avoiding injury. Before you start adding plates, get the patterns down. You can’t start squatting weight if you’re not squatting correctly, right? When it comes to squats, for example, I had to focus on my form—like keeping my chest up and my weight in my heels—before I even considered adding plates. Bad form can cause a world of pain. For a move like deadlifts, I had to work hard on my technique, practicing with dumbbells before I attempted the barbell. I found it helpful to lean on friends who have been lifting for a while to help me in real-time with my form. Having a trustworthy buddy who can correct (and spot) you is an added bonus. 

 

3- Find your focus… and a killer playlist. 

I lift right, and I lift heavy when I am in the zone. Once I put on my headphones, turn up the tunes and wrap my hands around the bar, nothing else matters. Finding something to help me focus on is important to my method, too. If the squat rack I am using faces a mirror, I draw an “X” with my finger a little lower than eye-level. That’s what I stare at during each rep, helping me keep my form and posture. If I am about to bench press, I find something directly above me on the ceiling that catches my eye. You get my drift. When it comes to me lifting weights, it’s also all about my playlist. My current song choice is indicative of my “get after it” mood. You can usually find me skipping between EDM, rock and, hip-hop (thanks Spotify and wireless headphones!). Having an object and a beat to focus on helps me grip the bar tighter and forget about the weight I am about to lift. 

 

4- Track your progress. 

Once you start lifting, you tend to find a favorite move. For me, it’s squats. Though you might feel more confident performing a few of your go-to weightlifting poses, you must have a plan so your muscles don’t get exhausted. Keeping track of my progress helps me beat burnout and get after my goals. I like using the StrongLifts 5X5 app. Simple and straightforward (five sets of five, hence the name), I can add plates, deload when necessary and accurately time myself between sets—letting my muscles rest. While squats are always part of the routine, the app also segments out complementary exercises, like overhead presses with a set of deadlifts and bench presses with barbell rows. Tracking progress and targeting certain muscle groups has helped me set long-term expectations of what I want to achieve. 

 

4- Embrace recovery mode. 

Three words: Take rest days. No matter your weight training routine, giving your muscles the recovery time they (and you) need is essential. Remember, you are lifting weights, and after a good sweat session, your muscles get tired. You don’t want to get injured. Wait about 48 hours before hitting a specific muscle group again. I like to lift three days per week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) and on my rest days, I spend time with my foam roller or at a yoga class. Yoga benefits my weightlifting routine, helping me gain flexibility and loosen up my tight hip flexors so I can squat deeper. It’s also good to remember that a day of rest can mean a walk, quick stretch session or doing absolutely nothing—you worked hard for it! 

 


My last piece of advice for strength training? Don’t give up. Seriously. It might sound cliche, but even on the difficult days when you feel stuck on your reps or have been lifting the same amount weight for a few sessions, remember you can do it. You’ve already won by stepping out of your comfort zone and under the barbell.

If you're interested in lifting weights at your local gym, trying out a strength training class, or finding a new studio, easily discover and book your next fitness experience on the MINDBODY app today. 
 

Brittany Raine MINDBODY
Written by
Brittany Raine
Consumer Content Program Manager
About the author
A free-spirited farmgirl from New York, Brittany traded her job as a journalist and newspaper editor for the San Diego sunshine. Brittany now leads the curation of all creative content. There are rumors she was Middle Earth's warrior elven queen in a past life.
Yoga sleep tips MINDBODY
Wellness
Published Wednesday Sep 18, 2019 by Amber Scriven

4 Yoga Poses for a Better Night’s Sleep

Yoga
Personal Growth
Expert Advice

We’ve all had sleepless nights. It’s the worst! Watching the wee hours of morning tick away. Wishing we could slip into a restful sleep before our alarm goes off . The frustrating feeling of knowing exactly how many minutes there are before you need to be up. Then, struggling through a heavy relentless morning filled with self-medicating coffee runs, and a tired, snappy version of yourself dragging through the day. 

There’s no one miracle cure for insomnia because there are so many reasons for not being able to sleep. Many people, however, find relief by curbing stress right before bed. One way to do that is with a few choice yoga stretches that mellow you out by encouraging your Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) to ignite your bodies “rest and digest” cycles. This is the opposite of the “fight or flight” system that helps you race away from oncoming tigers, or other more urban “dangers.”  

Here are a few shapes that calm the nervous system and decrease adrenaline in the body to help you rest and ultimately sleep better. 
 

Legs-Up-the-Wall

This is a super simple way to relax right before bed, or even from the comfort of your bed. Pushing your legs up the wall helps move the lymph and blood out of your feet using gravity, this, in turn, means your heart doesn’t need to work as hard to pump it back up. Thus, things get a little quieter in your cardiovascular system helping to soothe your body into a sense of softness.

1
Legs-Up-the-Wall

This is a super simple way to relax right before bed, or even from the comfort of your bed. Pushing your legs up the wall helps move the lymph and blood out of your feet using gravity, this, in turn, means your heart doesn’t need to work as hard to pump it back up. Thus, things get a little quieter in your cardiovascular system helping to soothe your body into a sense of softness.

Supported Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

This shape uses the same idea as Legs-Up-the-Wall. It calms by inverting your hips above your heart, but it also stretches your neck and chest open for tension relief. The muscles can open and let go of anything they are holding onto. It also opens your lungs and diaphragm, which allows you to breathe more deeply, and that oxygen is a calmant.

2
Supported Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

This shape uses the same idea as Legs-Up-the-Wall. It calms by inverting your hips above your heart, but it also stretches your neck and chest open for tension relief. The muscles can open and let go of anything they are holding onto. It also opens your lungs and diaphragm, which allows you to breathe more deeply, and that oxygen is a calmant.

Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Folding forward in Child’s Pose works a little differently. It still opens the lungs (from the upper back), but it requires you to turn inwards. You could bring your hands by your sides for a more restorative version of the shape, and resting your head to one side or the other is often more comfortable. Alternatively, try resting your forehead on a block or the floor, and use that surface to massage the space between your eyebrows. This triggers an acupressure point between your eyebrows that stimulates the pineal gland to encourage a melatonin response. Melatonin is the hormone our bodies produce when it gets dark that tells us to go to sleep!

3
Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Folding forward in Child’s Pose works a little differently. It still opens the lungs (from the upper back), but it requires you to turn inwards. You could bring your hands by your sides for a more restorative version of the shape, and resting your head to one side or the other is often more comfortable. Alternatively, try resting your forehead on a block or the floor, and use that surface to massage the space between your eyebrows. This triggers an acupressure point between your eyebrows that stimulates the pineal gland to encourage a melatonin response. Melatonin is the hormone our bodies produce when it gets dark that tells us to go to sleep!

Reclined Bound Angle (Supta Baddha Konasana)

Use a couple pillows for this one! Pop one under your knees, one under your head or upper back, along your spine, and under your hands.Then, get ready to  fall asleep there. Let everything get heavy and drippy and start to think about that weighted sensation in your feet, slowly bring your attention up your body making each body part heavier and heavier as you go. This is a version of Yoga Nidra Meditation and it is extremely relaxing—but you must go slowly. 


So, there you have it! A few ideas from yoga, science, and acupressure to help you get some much-deserved ZZZ’s. 
 

4
Reclined Bound Angle (Supta Baddha Konasana)

Use a couple pillows for this one! Pop one under your knees, one under your head or upper back, along your spine, and under your hands.Then, get ready to  fall asleep there. Let everything get heavy and drippy and start to think about that weighted sensation in your feet, slowly bring your attention up your body making each body part heavier and heavier as you go. This is a version of Yoga Nidra Meditation and it is extremely relaxing—but you must go slowly. 


So, there you have it! A few ideas from yoga, science, and acupressure to help you get some much-deserved ZZZ’s. 
 

Amber Scriven Acupuncturist
Written by
Amber Scriven
Acupuncturist | Yoga Teacher
About the author
A busy acupuncturist, yoga teacher and trainer, Amber has actively worked in the wellness industry for over 10 years. For her, yoga is a form of health care that she uses alongside acupuncture in the form of retreats, injury rehabilitation, and pain relief. Amber is renowned for building emotional strength while cultivating physical health.