Dumbbells, Body-Weight and Other Strength-Building Home Exercises

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Dumbbells, Body-Weight and Other Strength-Building Home Exercises

Post by UristMcBunny on Thu Oct 02, 2014 1:15 pm

So, following on from my discovery in January that Yoga Is Fucking Awesome, I've been feeling much better physically. The pain from my old back injury is almost completely gone, sleeping on a collapsing mattress no longer leads to stiff morning hips and my ankles, which have been complete shit for years thanks to my body's love for collapsing one of them and making me land on it while walking/standing/doing literally nothing... are now strong enough that I can balance on one foot for almost a full minute!

To celebrate, I've been getting back into some strength-building exercises at home. Nothing major, just playing with body-weight exercises and a couple of small 3.5lb handweights. And I thought it might be good to have a thread to talk about different, sustainable forms of strength-building.

This should go without saying, but caveat that applies to this and all other threads on health. No shame. No one-upmanship. Everyone is at their own individual level and deserves encouragement, not pressure to do too much too fast and hurt themselves.

With that out of the way, Squats and lunges. Why do they suck so much? I swear I can bend my legs every which way during yoga, use my knees as supports during balance poses and do everything from pigeon pose to balancing butterflies without so much as a twitch, but a dozen squats and my knees will feel hurty in the wrong kind of way for a day or more afterwards, and I'm sure that's not a good thing. I've been working on exercises to build strength in my legs before trying squats again after the last time - anyone have any tips? Any good leg exercises that you find good for building strength? Any tips on whether I might just be doing squats REALLY WRONG?

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Re: Dumbbells, Body-Weight and Other Strength-Building Home Exercises

Post by reboundstudent on Thu Oct 02, 2014 1:24 pm

Hmm my first thought is if your knees hurt, your squat form might be off. Squats are notorious for this, because the proper form feels so weird.

-Make sure when squatting, you are pressing your heels into the ground; you should not be going up on the balls of your feet at all. Your knees should be almost directly over your feet.
-Push those hips out. When squatting, I think less of bending my legs, and more pushing my butt out.

Steve over at Nerdfitness has a couple of good beginner body weight workouts: http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2009/12/09/beginner-body-weight-workout-burn-fat-build-muscle/
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Re: Dumbbells, Body-Weight and Other Strength-Building Home Exercises

Post by Lemminkainen on Thu Oct 02, 2014 1:29 pm

UristMcBunny wrote:

With that out of the way, Squats and lunges.  Why do they suck so much?  I swear I can bend my legs every which way during yoga, use my knees as supports during balance poses and do everything from pigeon pose to balancing butterflies without so much as a twitch, but a dozen squats and my knees will feel hurty in the wrong kind of way for a day or more afterwards, and I'm sure that's not a good thing.  I've been working on exercises to build strength in my legs before trying squats again after the last time - anyone have any tips?  Any good leg exercises that you find good for building strength?  Any tips on whether I might just be doing squats REALLY WRONG?

I did a bunch of squats during my brief flirtation with weight-training a while ago. A few possibilities for what's going on:

1) There's a characteristic soreness that comes with more intense weight-training exercises which does in fact tend to last for a day or so afterward, and you're mistaking it for signs of a more significant injury. But since you identified it as the wrong kind of hurt, I suspect that you probably already know what normal weight-training soreness feels like and this isn't what's going on.

More likely:

2) There's something off about your form. I know that when I first started doing squats, I sometimes did some thing which kind of alarmed my instructor and caused her to come over and correct me so that I wouldn't injure myself. So, it's possible that you're making a similar mistake.

or

3) You're going too hard, too fast. Maybe you just need to start out with a smaller number of repetitions than 12. Like, maybe you could start out just doing five or six squats and building from there. You mentioned that your hips and ankles are "shit"-- you might be starting out a bit weaker there than most people, and need a little more time to build strength. No shame in that!

or

4) There's some issue relating to your back injury or hip or ankle problems which is making this hurt. A real doctor or physical therapist or personal trainer would be able to tell you more about that.

I hope that my (limited) knowledge can be at least sort of helpful to you. Good luck with your training!

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Re: Dumbbells, Body-Weight and Other Strength-Building Home Exercises

Post by UristMcBunny on Thu Oct 02, 2014 1:52 pm

Thank you, you've both been very helpful! Based on the video RBS shared, it my be I am both doing TERRIBLE SQUATS and trying to move into those sort of exercises too fast. It's frustrating - I used to be so strong. When I was a little kid, smallest one in the class but running around the playground carrying two of my friends on my back just because I could. I suck at going slow.

But yeah, I think I will slow down, and maybe arrange things so I can have a mirror to one side and a tablet with a squat form video on in front of me, do just a few at a time and see how that goes. Thanks you two!

...In the meantime I shall do more dumbbell rows. Those things are like heaven.

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Re: Dumbbells, Body-Weight and Other Strength-Building Home Exercises

Post by UristMcBunny on Thu Oct 09, 2014 4:57 pm

I have discovered that bodyweight wall squats are a thing! And I can do 20 reps with NO knee issues! Just the normal amount of good aches. Hooray for solutions! Between these and bent leg flat raises I think I might be able to work my way up to real squats and then lunges and maybe dumbbell squats? Eventually? If I can force myself to be patient?

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Re: Dumbbells, Body-Weight and Other Strength-Building Home Exercises

Post by nearly_takuan on Thu Oct 09, 2014 11:50 pm

Squats and lunges can be pretty enjoyable; they're among the few exercises that actually make sense to me as things to do, since the movements (and therefore muscles) are similar to actually picking up a heavy thing (e.g. dishwasher) and carrying it somewhere.

If someday you do decide to add weight, dumbbells are probably the way to go. I liked doing it with a barbell when I had access to my college's gym, but it might not be safe if you aren't confident about the amount of weight. Just stay away from resistance bands, IMO (at least for those two movements); I haven't yet found a good way to keep the tension off my neck/back/shoulders while maintaining a proper amount of resistance.
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Re: Dumbbells, Body-Weight and Other Strength-Building Home Exercises

Post by Conreezy on Fri Oct 10, 2014 9:39 am

nearly_takuan wrote:Squats and lunges can be pretty enjoyable; they're among the few exercises that actually make sense to me as things to do, since the movements (and therefore muscles) are similar to actually picking up a heavy thing (e.g. dishwasher) and carrying it somewhere.

If someday you do decide to add weight, dumbbells are probably the way to go. I liked doing it with a barbell when I had access to my college's gym, but it might not be safe if you aren't confident about the amount of weight. Just stay away from resistance bands, IMO (at least for those two movements); I haven't yet found a good way to keep the tension off my neck/back/shoulders while maintaining a proper amount of resistance.

Resistance bands are good if you keep the resistance very light and just use them for warm ups. I like doing good mornings with a small band around my neck. I use them to stretch my shoulder as well.
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Re: Dumbbells, Body-Weight and Other Strength-Building Home Exercises

Post by reboundstudent on Fri Oct 10, 2014 10:56 am

UristMcBunny wrote:I have discovered that bodyweight wall squats are a thing!  And I can do 20 reps with NO knee issues!  Just the normal amount of good aches.  Hooray for solutions!  Between these and bent leg flat raises I think I might be able to work my way up to real squats and then lunges and maybe dumbbell squats?  Eventually?  If I can force myself to be patient?

I think dumbbell squats, after you master body weight squats, are the way to go. I personally like the barbell, as it makes easier for me to balance, but the more weight you lift, the more perfect your form needs to be.

You'd be surprised how fast you'll make gains, though! It's just all about being consistent.To help with motivation, I use an app called Fitocracy, which awards you points and levels you up for exercises. I am currently working towards a Quest called Athena Reborn: barbell squat 115 pounds for 3 sets, deadlift 135 pounds for 3 sets, and barbell bench press 85 pounds for 3 sets, all in one work out. I am so close-after about 2 months of working out 3 times a week, I'm at 115 for squat, 110 for deadlift, and 70 for bench press. To give a perspective, two months ago I was at: 60 for squat, 55 for deadlift, and 45 for bench.

It's all about persistence, consistency and form! You can do it Bunny!!
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Re: Dumbbells, Body-Weight and Other Strength-Building Home Exercises

Post by Xexyz on Fri Oct 10, 2014 2:28 pm

nearly_takuan wrote:Just stay away from resistance bands, IMO (at least for those two movements); I haven't yet found a good way to keep the tension off my neck/back/shoulders while maintaining a proper amount of resistance.

And to add what NT's said here, just say NO to the Smith Machine. If you want to move to using the barbell for your squats, it's best to use a normal barbell with a power rack/cage and someone to help you with your form. I remember when I first started learning to squat and my trainer had me start in a smith machine, and it was an awful, painful experience. Yet as soon as I switched trainers and squatted from a power rack with a regular barbell, lo and behold all my problems went away and I was able to squat just fine.

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Re: Dumbbells, Body-Weight and Other Strength-Building Home Exercises

Post by reboundstudent on Fri Oct 10, 2014 2:55 pm

Xexyz wrote:
nearly_takuan wrote:Just stay away from resistance bands, IMO (at least for those two movements); I haven't yet found a good way to keep the tension off my neck/back/shoulders while maintaining a proper amount of resistance.

And to add what NT's said here, just say NO to the Smith Machine.  If you want to move to using the barbell for your squats, it's best to use a normal barbell with a power rack/cage and someone to help you with your form.  I remember when I first started learning to squat and my trainer had me start in a smith machine, and it was an awful, painful experience.  Yet as soon as I switched trainers and squatted from a power rack with a regular barbell, lo and behold all my problems went away and I was able to squat just fine.

YES. In fact, stay away from machines whenever possible. Body weight, bar bells and dumb bells allow for natural movement, and doing the forms properly will strengthen the secondary muscles that we use in every day lift alongside the regular muscles we target with the exercises. Machines allow you to target that primary muscle, but take care of the "heavy lifting" (yuck-yuck) so you end up crippling your strength progress.

Bunny, if you're interested, I really do highly recommend NerdFitness' forums. They can be a bit... zealous sometimes, especially with diet suggestions, but they are very welcoming and enthusiastic.
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Re: Dumbbells, Body-Weight and Other Strength-Building Home Exercises

Post by UristMcBunny on Fri Oct 10, 2014 3:27 pm

Aye, you don't need to worry about me on machines - this is all just done at home with what I have available to me!

I find nerd fitness a bit... bad for my pre-existing mental health stuff so tend to stay far FAR away from that. But I am already a member on fitocracy! Tis handy just for seeing the list of dumbbell and bodyweight exercises they have that I can experiment with!

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Re: Dumbbells, Body-Weight and Other Strength-Building Home Exercises

Post by reboundstudent on Fri Oct 10, 2014 5:01 pm

UristMcBunny wrote:Aye, you don't need to worry about me on machines - this is all just done at home with what I have available to me!

I find nerd fitness a bit... bad for my pre-existing mental health stuff so tend to stay far FAR away from that.  But I am already a member on fitocracy!  Tis handy just for seeing the list of dumbbell and bodyweight exercises they have that I can experiment with!

Yeah, I totally get that. They can be rather hard core. I'm glad to hear you're feeling good about the resources you've found so far! :-)

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