Does minor and unstructured weightlifting do anything?

In particular, I’m trying to lose weight and get more “defined”. I don’t really want to get sweaty doing a routine, though, and I’m not sure if I have the willpower to stick to it anyway.

What I’m doing now is, I’m running about 5km (approx 3.5 miles) every other day. Currently about 65kg (143lb) on my 171cm (5.6 feet) frame! The weight’s coming off, but I still look kinda flabby. I don’t want muscles, but a few gentle lines would be nice!

So for my weight lifting, I got a pair of 9.5kg (20lb) dumbbells, and do a couple of squats/curls/rows every time I walk past them in the hallway.

Will that actually do anything, or am I just wasting my time and need to get into a proper routine with like a circuit?

To get muscles to react in a significant way you have to push them pretty hard, ideally to near exhaustion, so no, your limited swipes at the dumbbells will not do much.

I don’t quite understand your aversion to sweating. Don’t you sweat when you run on humid day? Sweating is part of good quality exercise and is often seen as healthful.

To expand on astro’s reply,

Moving 20-lb. dumbbells is certainly eustress to a beginner, but the problem is that a beginner’s body adapts to the new stress in a couple of weeks, after which progress grinds to a halt; a visible change in appearance (some extra muscle and ‘tone’) typically takes a couple of months of progressive challenge to the body. Also, different muscle groups need drastically different resistance to develop. To a healthy beginner past the initial breaking-in period (such as you), 20 lbs per hand is too little in the squat while possibly way too much for curls, with rows somewhere in the ballpark. With a fixed weight, parts of your body will be severely under-stressed, others overstressed. Curls and rows are both a pulling motion involving the biceps - I’d ditch the curls and switch to push-ups to include a pushing, multi-joint exercise for a well-rounded workout.

A routine such as you describe of low resistance and high frequency while avoiding fatigue is great for learning skills such as bowling or archery. To add muscle even a bit, you need to keep your body guessing instead, doing hard stuff until you can do no more, and sweat. (That, or be a genetically gifted mesomorph that has always been lean and strong without even trying). Weight training doesn’t need to take long or consist of endless sets of a multitude of exercises. Workouts can be short and sweet, but they need to be consistently difficult (both within the workout and across them) to make a difference.

No; the weights exercises described in the OP will do virtually nothing for tone or fitness.

Are you female? You’ve said you don’t want to sweat, but I find that people may cite such reasons, when often the real issue is that they imagine “real” weight-lifting will quickly make them appear muscular and masculine.

But a visibly pumped physique does not happen overnight, and before that there are a number of stages such as “curvy, but the curves are in the right places” and “healthy/fit looking” which you could stop at and maintain. Plus it’s just nice being a little stronger :slight_smile:

I’m a guy actually, but getting mixed up on the boards happens often for some reason. >.>

Alright, so give it to me straight - am I going to have to actually go to the gym? I’ve been doing this nerd fitness workout now and then, but am I going to plateau off this rather quickly?

Yes. You will have to go to the gym, and you will have to work hard. If you don’t, you’ll never make any progress.

Especially after you work up to heavier weights, poor technique can result in back or other injury. Back injuries can be slow healing at best, and permanent and debilitating at worst. Joint or tendon injuries can be similarly debilitating.

It is better to learn correct techniques from the beginning, just so you don’t develop bad habits to fall back into when distracted, and also you will be working with lower weight, which will be more forgiving of mistakes, and also it is easier to focus on form when not straining hard. When you eventually get to heavier weights, you want proper form to be instinctive.

I just went to my second kettlebell class on Saturday. It is very illuminating to see how many different ways I and my classmates can find to do it wrong. The first class was mostly without weights at all, just working on form. We finally lifted the 'bells a few times at the end of the first class. OMFG were my hamstrings complaining the week after that first class. After the second class, I am pretty happy that I am walking normally today…I sure wasn’t this time last week.

How long have you been doing this current regimen? Definitely don’t worry about going to a gym unless you’ve kept up your running and lifting for at least a month. I’ve found that you can usually do the same routine for about three months before you need to switch it up. Sorry if this is harsh to say, but the majority of people who have come to me asking for advice about their workout don’t stick with it long enough to ever have to worry about upping the weights or changing the exercises they do.

If you’ve been doing this for a while, I may stop back in and try to give some more tailored advice. But if you haven’t been able to stick with your plan consistently for a few months, I would advise you to just focus on making working out a consistent habit. That alone will put you far ahead of most of the people who are trying to get in shape.

Depending on your body type, you might still have a significant amount of weight to lose. The range of normal weight for a 5’6" woman is 115 to 155 pounds. You’re towards the high end of that. Generally speaking, body fat % is more important than muscle size in looking defined.

Psst …

Yes, minor and unstructured weight lifting (ie causuall squatting 20 lbs whenever you get around to it) will absoluting nothing.

As a 5’6" male, 143 lbs doesn’t sound particularly heavy to me. It sounds more like you don’t want to look “skinny fat”. That is to say, at a decent weight, but all soft and flabby. Like frozen yogurt or something.

As others have pointed out, unless you are just genetically gifted, you need to develop a regular workout routine. Circuit training is good for developing overall strength and fitness, but to build real strength and muscle generally requires lifting weights. There are all sorts of routines, but sticking with 2-5 sets of 6-12 reps of simple common free weight exercises (ie squats, benchpress, curls, etc) 2-5 times a week will usually keep people like **Mijin **from mistaking you for a girl again.:smiley:

Oops, my apologies Tabby_Cat.

But my point still stands. Being defined comes from having low body fat moreso than big muscles.

Obviously not true. People can and do look good without going to gyms. Free weight training is generally considered the best way to gain muscle and you really don’t need a gym for that.


If you DON’T want to go to a gym, you do need to get over the “not wanting to be sweaty” thing, and actually *work *when you’re working out at home.

If you have a set of various-sized weights, and you have some form of challenging cardio that you are willing to do regularly (I hate running and can’t afford a pool, so I bought a rowing machine instead) then you’ve made up for most of the physical qualities of a gym. Sure you don’t have all the cool machines, but you can counteract that pretty well with structured lifting and different exercises.

What you’re missing is the competitive or comparitive social nature (which I hate, but you may like) to keep you on track with your goals, and the possibility of getting advice from people who know what they’re doing and can help you work smarter or change things up instead of always doing the same-old routine that your body gets used to.

But you absolutely do NOT need to attend a gym to get fit.

I’d agree, but it depends how serious it gets. The OP may want to make an investment in some equipment, if not the gym. It’s pretty easy to hit a plateau with 20lb weights, depending on the exercise, especially if there is little to no variation. I’m all for natural resistance, though.

To the OP,

If you’re going to dedicate the time, you might as well make it worth it. A lot of it is mental, and I completely understand not wanting to go to a gym, but focused hard work, with proper technique, should be priority, in line with what Astro/Toxy have stated.

Also, since it hasn’t been mentioned, your diet is an integral part of it. I’m certainly not a nutritionist, but there are some do’s and don’ts that you may want to observe, in order to help with the results. Some people are more blessed than others, but this is certainly a method for helping you to reach your goal(s), without having to sweat, per say.:wink:

VT learn new word! <bangs barbell plates together joyously>

I’ve been running 5km (3.1miles) every 2 days for about 3 months now, and made several dietary changes (Banana and half a cup of milk for breakfast, soup or meat bun for lunch, soup or tofu with meat for dinner). Weightbot tells me I’ve lost 4.3kg (9.4lb) in 64 days, so I guess that isn’t bad?

The weights thing is just something I can’t get my head around, I guess. How to lift them, what I have to do to make them work… running, I get. You run x distance in y time, and you’re done.

But yes, I’m trying to avoid looking skinnyfat. My scales are telling me that I hover around 19ish% fat which I think is on the high side? But then fat% measurements on scales rarely are correct, from my understanding.

Correct, and I believe they tend to run on the high side (i.e., if it says 19%, there’s a good change that you’re fat percentage isn’t really that high). If you want a more accurate number, sells a body fat caliper for just $4 here.

But this is all tangential anyways. To be honest, you can probably just tell by looking in the mirror if you have work to do, and if you think you have some work to do then I’ll just trust you.

Weight lifting is more complicated than running, but personally I think that makes it more fun. If you’re serious about getting better informed, I would pick up a book on the subject, because books tend to have more trustworthy information than the internet. I recommend The New Rules of Lifting by Lou Schuler. In addition to describing some of the basic terms in lifting, there’s a whole bunch of pictures of different exercises to try. If you start out just doing them with your dumbbells and keep track of how many reps you can do, you should be able to figure out yourself when the work is becoming too easy and you need to graduate to different exercises or bigger weights. I believe it also has some suggested workout programs at the back of the book.

I noticed that several of the buyer reviews include complaints that it snapped/broke easily, so caveat emptor.

What do you mean you don’t want muscles? You’re a guy, we all want muscles.