Weight Training Question & Answer

Which chest exercise would aid in firming and lifting my breasts along with increase cleavage with low neckline sweaters?

Generally speaking, after the age of 20, we can lose 1/3 lb to 1/2 lb of muscle mass and gain 1 pound of fat each year. The exercises for the chest can restore muscle mass under the breast tissue. If the restoration of muscle mass is accompanied with a decrease of fat there may be no net change of girth, but a toning effect. Both an increase of muscle and decrease of fat will result in this toning effect. Although, this may not really restore the natural sagging of the breasts that occurs with age, particularly if you have ever nursed your children. As you know, the breast is an organ surrounded with fat tissue. Exercises for the upper chest may yield somewhat an illusion of upper breast cleavage. Products like the Wonder Bra or in extreme cases, reconstructive surgery will yield more dramatic effects. Realize plastic surgery does not need to include implants. Certainly, I urge you to at least try an exercise program including chest exercises.

In the beginning, most any basic chest exercise you feel comfortable with can be recommended. Later, the more effective exercises become the ones that are less familiar. Even the best exercise can lose its effects over time. Change your exercises every month or two. Pick one basic exercise for the Chest (General) and one exercise for the upper chest (Pectoralis Clavicular). If you are using a split program and specializing on the chest, add an auxiliary exercise for the chest. Continue to perform an exercise for every major muscle.

Also, your chest may appear fuller with proper shoulder girdle posture. Protracted shoulders can make the chest appear flatter. Including a rowing movement in your weight training program and exercising through a full range of motion (very mild stretch during chest exercise) will help maintain ideal shoulder girdle posture. Also be aware of other postural deficiencies which may influence the overall aesthetics of the body.

I hope to set up a weight lifting program, but I was confused with the exercise choices. I'm an absolute beginner--age 48, female, 254 pounds. Equipment available: a weight bench (with butterfly? and leg curl? attachments), barbell set, and dumb bells (1-5 pounds). What would be a starter program?

Choose mostly barbell exercises for now. You can add dumbbell exercise after you purchase heavier sets; you only have enough weight for beginning dumbbell lateral raises. To develop a program, follow the Workout Creation Instructions and Weight Training Guidelines or see Basic Program with Minimum Equipment. Also include an aerobic component like brisk walking most days of the week, follow Dietary Guidelines, and see Exercise & Obesity.

I've been working out for 18 months consistently. In which time I've went from a scrawny 125 to 160. I've been working out 4-5 days a week, but my program has not been professionally organized. I am electing to go with your 4 day split: push and pull: and I'm going to do it 6 days a week. I have the stamina and feel energetic enough to do that. My only question would be regarding the length of time (two/three months?) that would be recommended for such intense exercise. I'm also making this a low volume workout. I began yesterday. Some exercises, after stretching and a warm up, I will do two sets of and others just one set, both 8-12 reps as recommended.

Congratulations on your remarkable gains! The 4 day split is typically for more advanced bodybuilders. They are usually utilized when higher volume programs are implimented. More exercises and sets can be tolerated when concentrating on fewer muscles groups but longer recovery between working each body part is required. In this case you would be working each muscle group one and a half times per week (ABCDABX,CDABCDX). You can certainly give it a try but beware that some hard gainers may find it more difficult to put on muscle when they are exercising 6 days per week for too long. Make sure you are getting enough calories for adequate recovery. Perhaps consider a month (or two at the most) at a time on this sort of program. I only used the one you mentioned when I was preparing for the Mr. Kansas and National Bodybuilding Championships back in 1990. I don't want to discourage you from using the 4 day split though. You will probably make good gain just by making this change. Just change it back to a 2 or 3 day split after a month or two for continued progress. Good luck.

What's the recommended training for abs? Sometimes, higher reps 20-50 are recommended. Or should I try to use the same approach as with the larger muscles (8-12 reps then increase weight)?

I would only recommend 8-12 reps on ab training if your goal of spinal flexion strength outweighs aesthetic concerns. As with any muscle, the muscles of the midsection can atrophy, or grow thicker, particularly in men. As your body fat drops, the abdominal region is probably the last area you will achieve total leanness. Interestingly, fat is both above (subcutaneous) and below the abdominal muscle (visceral). If you are super lean with a very small waist you could see good results with 8-12 reps. Otherwise I recommend lighter weight and more reps (e.g. 20-50 or 20-30 reps) to retard muscle mass increases in this area with typically greater fat. This will not burn more fat, it will improve muscular endurance, though. You can afford to do lighter weight on the abdominal exercises since it would yield little metabolic increase relative to exercise that work a larger muscle mass. Incidentally, exercises involving larger muscles are the exercise that have the greatest potential to burn the most fat for hours after a workout. Also see spot reduction myth.

Hello, I'm an Italian boy, and I don't know what plyometric means, you have used this term to indicate the utility of an exercise for the obliques, could you explain to me what it means? Thank you

A plyometric is an explosive movement performed after a quick intense loading. As in the case of plyometric oblique movements, this involves fast repetitive movements performed between rapid stretches to each side. The rapid changes of inertia, or momentum provide the loading for these type oblique exercises. See core under power exercises.

I tried the hamstring exercise titled Smith Good Morning, and I was using my lower back some (it seemed), does this mean my form was off?

The lower back, or erector spinae muscles are isometrically contracted during the good morning. You may begin feeling it a bit more in the hamstring muscles as you continue with it over the weeks. Your lower back should be kept straight through out the Good Morning. You could always have some one look at your form. It is common, though, to feel an exercise in your "weakest link". As the lower back becomes more conditioned, you may later feel it in the target muscle. If you are performing a split program, consider performing a leg curl for your first hamstring movement and the good morning (or any hamstring exercise involving hip extension) as your second movement. This will pre-fatigue the hamstrings so you may feel it a bit more in these muscles.

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