Fit Check: Weight Lifting (Video)

Intimidated by weights? Use this easy-to-follow workout and you’ll be toned up in no time.

By: Melissa Romero

We’ve all seen the separation in the gym: The macho men grunting and lifting heavy weights in one area, and the women taking over the cardio machines in another. Weight lifting can be intimidating, especially when the muscle-head next to you is lifting a dumbbell that’s five times the weight of the one in your hand.

Gold’s Gym trainer Tony Scott says it doesn’t have to be that way. Weight lifting is an important component to fitness and exercise, and by using the appropriate weight, you don’t have to worry about getting too bulky. It’s also not necessary to lift everyday; incorporate it into your workouts two times a week. Scott demonstrates five exercises for weight-lifting beginners that emphasize muscle toning and strengthening.

Exercise 1: Basic Bench Press
Muscles: Pectorals and triceps
Reps: Three sets of 10 to 12

Sit on a basic weight bench and lie on your back with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Grip the bar just a bit wider than shoulder width. Lift the bar over your chest, and then slowly lower down two inches above your chest. Extend your arms back up, but avoid locking your elbows.

The standard weight bar is 45 pounds. If you’re a beginner, you can start out with this weight, and as you become more comfortable, add more. You can also substitute the standard bar—meaning, one with no added weight—with a set bar, one with a pre-set weight plate attached. It’s always a good idea to have someone nearby to spot you.

Exercise 2: Flat Bench Fly
Muscles: Pectoral and triceps
Reps: Three sets of 10 to 12

Sit on a basic weight bench and lie on your back with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Start with two light dumbbells; try 10 pounds each. Lift your arms—they should be slightly bent at the elbows—in the air, above your chest. Slowly lower your arms back down, out to your sides. Lift them back to starting position and repeat.

Exercise 3: Barbell Row
Muscles: Pectoral, triceps, biceps
Reps: Three sets of 10 to 12

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Use a supinated grip (palms facing up) to hold a set bar, placing your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees and lean forward slightly. Bring the bar toward your waist, so that your elbows bend back behind your torso. Repeat.

Exercise 4: Shoulder Presses
Muscles: Shoulders and back
Reps: Three sets of 10 to 12

Adjust a weight bench so that the back is upright, forming a chair shape. Using two light dumbbells, hold them at your shoulders and extend your arms above your head, “pressing” the dumbbells. Return to the starting position and repeat.

Exercise 5: Dumbbell Curls
Muscles: Biceps
Reps: Three sets of 10 to 12

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides. Squeeze your bicep as you lift one dumbbell, keeping your elbow close to your side. As you lower one arm, lift the other dumbbell. This is an alternating dumbbell curl.

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