Journey Back To Strength 9

Building Strength Safely

Journey Back To Strength #9 - Building Strength Safely


Well, to start, I have dropped 5 lbs in a week. This is mostly water retention from the weekend described in Blog 8, so essentially everything is going in the right direction.

Also, there are some big changes that are happening in my life, and all I can report at this time is that it’s all great! I haven’t been this happy in a long time, and over the next month, I will be so happy to share with you once all is said and done.

Building Strength Safely

Lately, I have had to find the right balance of lifting enough weight for muscle growth and finding a way to stay safe and NOT reinjure myself. I need to be extremely careful with my neck injury. There is no way I can lift like I did before, and that is concerning to me. But I accept that and will find a way to maybe use lighter weights and complete more reps and sets so there is more volume than just straight sets of 5-8 reps as I had done previously.

Journey Back To Strength #9 - Building Strength SafelyAll lifts have to be with my spine supported. So in order to do that, I use a bench that I can rest my head on without it moving. I felt good about the lift in the video below, and I know that because I am progressing with my strength with no pain, things are going to quickly look up for me. I have been as careful as possible and supported my neck implementing the proper form and techniques with safety as a primary consideration, which is the safest way to lift weights. And because of remaining diligent, I am now able to demonstrate an exercise that I feel is a wonderful solid foundational move. I hope through this blog you may decide to try it as well. Having strong, rounded shoulders is so important and can really balance out your lower body should you have larger legs or wider hips. I liken it to obtaining a classic “S Shape” curves and giving the illusion of a nice tiny waist.

Let’s Take A Look…

My intention for shooting the video was to demonstrate a dumbbell military press using proper form and going to failure. (At least one set must be to failure or you will not see any changes in your body.) “Failure” meaning that at any point during a set, if your form starts to falter, then the exercise must be halted. This is also a very important point to consider for your training.

Journey Back To Strength #9 - Building Strength SafelyPlease keep in mind that even though it may look like a lot of weight to women who are afraid of “looking like a man,” it isn’t. I can assure you that lifting heavy weight will not make you look like a man. Naturally, that simply doesn’t happen. Women produce about 25% of the testosterone that men do, so it takes an extraordinary amount of lifting heavy weights, eating enough, the correct kind of calories at the proper time and years of effort to develop a solid foundation of muscle. And even then, it must be maintained. So, fear not!

A Few Helpful Tools…

You always want to set your sights on the dumbbells the next weight up. However, it can be quite a jump in weight moving from, let’s say, 25 lb dumbbells to 30 lb dumbbells. So, a really cool way to more gradually increase the resistance is to buy 1.25 magnetic plate weights. Attaching one on either side of a dumbbell adds a total 2.5 lbs. This is a wonderful and safe way to confidently move forward.

Pre-incident, I was doing 45-50 lb dumbbell military presses, no problem. I had a spot to get the weight up, but once it was up, I could do the work on my own. Lifting straps were a perfect way to keep my wrists stable so I could safely lift the weight. So to be honest, the weight I am demonstrating is a snap.

I worked diligently to have beautiful shoulders, and I am so grateful to be on the road back to real strength! As a note of caution, I don’t suggest “working through” any kind of physical pain ever. It simply is not safe to do so. So if you are ready, and healthy, then give it a try!

Journey Back To Strength #9 - Building Strength Safely Journey Back To Strength #9 - Building Strength Safely

A Useful Lifting Tip…

I suggest getting some straps and after 2-3 warm up sets of 15 reps, slowly move up in weight and pick up dumbbells you feel slightly intimidated to lift. Get a spot from a person who is qualified and knowledgeable to spot at the wrists, NOT the elbows. The first place you could lose strength is often times at the wrists. An experienced trainer/lifter should know that. If not, kindly ask them to guide you through the range of motion following your wrists.

Here is my demonstration of a dumbbell military press—a great fundamental exercise for building the shoulders.

Looking forward to next week’s blog!

For more of Ava’s Journey Back To Strength, click HERE.

Ava Cowan is an IFBB Figure Professional, a CPTS® and full time online coach and consultant for women of all fitness levels.

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