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Posted on Jun 4, 2012 in Working Out | 21 comments

What I’m Doing at the Gym

A week or so ago I received the following tweet:

While I assured her it was absolutely not a dumb question, and gave her the 140-character-limit version of my gym routine, but it occurred to me that some of you might also be interested in hearing about what I’ve been doing during my sweat sessions lately. I knew ahead of time that after the relay, I would be putting running by the wayside (for now) and concentrating on other, more currently interesting means of fitness. In addition to videos and workouts at home, right now that means a big emphasis on strength training!

So when I joined my gym as part of my Lenten resolution to bring an end to my lackadaisical and sporadic attempts at exercising regularly, I also signed up for three personal training sessions to help me get an idea of what moves to do, and how to maintain good form with them. I really wish I had the budget right now to continue with personal training, because it was so immensely helpful! Fortunately, my trainer, Jordan, and I established a great rapport from the get-go, so he still stops by occasionally to see how I’m doing and give me pointers. I pretty much follow variations of all the moves that he had me do during those initial sessions.

I’m at the gym at least twice a week, either attending a cardio class (there’s this Dance Cardio-X class that is SO ridiculous and SO much fun) or doing strength training. I’m lucky enough to have found an awesome workout buddy, Kate. The stars aligned when I met her at a party (through Sean, actually) and she told me she was a fellow Falls Churcher and was thinking about signing up at the same gym as me. Having someone that I’m accountable to meet with, whether it’s a friend or a personal trainer, has been integral in helping me establish a regular routine.

Generally, my weight lifting routines consist of a combination made from some of the following free-weight moves: bicep curls, tricep curls, walking lunges, squats, crunches, leg lifts, shoulder lifts (I’m not sure of the official name, but it’s where you have a weight in each hand, fully extend your arms, and pull them up the side, in to the front, back out to the side, then down), barbell curls, the move where you put one leg up on a bench and use that side’s same arm to pull up a weight (targeting your back muscles), etc. I generally do 3 sets of 10 reps each, though I’m very bad at not losing count, haha. It’s nothing groundbreaking, for sure, and as of yet I don’t have specific workouts that I follow each time (though perhaps that will develop as I put more planning into my strength training, haha).

I usually start out with a couple of minutes on the elliptical or treadmill just to loosen up, and I also will generally throw just a couple of weight machines into the mix as well. My favorite is the leg press, but I also will do a couple of the arm and shoulder machines as well. The free weights I use are generally 10 or 15 lbs if they’re dumbbells, or 20 or 30 pounds if it’s a barbell. On the machines, for arms/shoulders/back the weight is usually somewhere within the 40 – 50 lb. range, and for legs it’s usually within the 75 – 115 lb. range.

Anyway, that’s about all there is to it! There’s still a lot I have yet to try out (I’d like to learn how to use kettlebells and resistance bands better) but for now I’m enjoying feeling like I’m getting just the slightest bit of definition in my still rather floppy appendages, hahaha. If any of you have questions about my gym routine, or if you have any tips to offer, I welcome both! I’m definitely still new to strength training in general, but I love how it makes me feel like I’ve worked hard without feeling like I want to die, the way straight-up cardio does. And for those of you who were utterly bored with this post, I have a delicious recipe coming your way tomorrow!

What’s your favorite strength training move?


  1. Hey, that’s me!

    Super helpful informative post. I actually forgot that one of my boyfriend’s friends is a personal trainer, so I have a few sessions with him coming up to teach me correct form. So excited!

    • That’s great! You’ll have to let me know how that goes!

  2. I love using the workout bench at my gym for triceps dips 🙂

  3. LOVE this post! I have recently started thinking about getting back into strength training and getting a trainer to help me with free weights and dead lifts. When I was at my lowest weight I was doing my most strength training and had a trainer’s help so it was good to get that reminder from this post! Keep up the amazing work Gretchen!

  4. I’ve said it before but I will say it again. New Rules of Lifting for Women. It’s a great first routine for starting out with weight training and there is also a great community of women on the Facebook group willing to answer any questions you may have. It’s fairly cheap on Amazon and gives you almost 6 months of workouts. It got me into weight training and for that I am super thankful because it is the first sport that makes me truly excited and inspired to keep at it (I’ve been at it for almost 2 years now).

    One tip I’d offer to people is to start out with full body movements and ditch the isolation moves (like curls). Full body weightlifting is much more efficient.

    • I feel like I’ve now heard it enough times that I can’t avoid it, haha. It’s only $12 on Amazon so I guess I don’t have much of a choice anymore, huh? Thanks for the tip! 🙂

  5. It’s interesting to see what others are doing in the gym, so thanks for sharing. I need to get back in to weight lifting for all of its benefits.

    P.S. That picture is too cute 😉

  6. A lot of the New Rules of Lifting for Women routines are in the 1,000 Exercises app by Men’s/Women’s Health. It’s spendy, but it really is damn comprehensive. I also like the Nike Training Club app, which takes you through exercises with audio cues. It’s pretty great.

  7. I get my strength training moves from Tone It Up. They have a website and a youtube channel. They often have print outs of movements to try. It’s cool, they keep it fresh and fun.

    I also do a kettle bell DVD to strength train. Bob Harper’s DVD’s are only $5.. not so bad. It’s taught me how to swing and different movements.

    Check ’em out.

  8. NONE! I hate strength training… which is a problem because I’m not benefitting myself in any way by avoiding it.

    I’m a straight up cardio girl, all the way!

  9. Not gonna lie… when I saw that picture, I thought, “WOAH! That is one HUGE Shakeweight!” And then I saw your face and thought, “WOAH! She is REALLY into that HUGE Shakeweight!”

    • Hahahahaha, alas, it’s just one of my brother’s weird adjustable-weight-dumbbell things, but is it bad to admit that I do indeed own a Shake Weight? I am NOT into it, haha.

  10. Hey Gretchen, if you have an iPhone, I’ve been using an app called “Gain Fitness” and I love it, as it’s just like having a personal trainer telling me what to do. Since it keeps count of my workout “streaks” it’s also enough motivation for me to keep going (I’m at 17 now!). I even reviewed it not too long ago if you want to look it up (the app is free). (I should note that no one pays me or asks me to review crap, so I reviewed bc I found it, started using it, and liked it.)

    And if by Falls Churcher you mean, VA (I just started reading your blog, so I’m still clueless!), I used to go to the Sport & Health there by Target, and I loved it! Their pool was too tiny for my tastes, but I like how the weights and cardio was pretty spread out and people weren’t on top of each other when working out. A BIG change going from that to the tiny little building gym I’ve been using here in Manila!

      • Hahahahaha, it didn’t sound bitchy at all! And I definitely mean Falls Church, VA :). I belong to a small local gym here, not the local Sport & Health (you must be talking about the one down in Skyline?). I’ll definitely check your review of the app out. Having a free little digital personal trainer might be just the answer I’m looking for!

  11. I love strength training so hard. Anything with kettlebells makes me happy. Deadlifts are especially awesome!

  12. No chest exercises?

    My favourite exercises are squats, deadlifts, and anything for my back but especially assisted pull-ups. I absolutely hate working on my biceps. The WORST.

    • My PT had me do benchpress stuff at first for my chest but it’s so harrrrd… I’m so weeeeak… heh. I know I should do more of it though. Also, LOL I tried doing a pull-up on the captain’s chair the other day and it was hilarious.

  13. Does your gym offer Bodypump? It’s great for all over toning!! 🙂
    I am loving my bootcamp workouts. They’re SO short and SO effective!

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