Buy your tickets to the gunshow in the gym

by Beacon Staff • February 8, 2006

While this typical image is often associated with the gym, the weight room is really not that frightening.,When thinking about weightlifting, sweat-drenched macho men may pop into mind. One can almost hear the pained groans of die-hard lifters as each struggles to make one last dumbbell curl or bench press.

While this typical image is often associated with the gym, the weight room is really not that frightening. Following a cardio workout with some upper body lifting will give an added boost to any routine.

The arms specifically attract exercise attention because many men and women find dissatisfaction with their own.

According to an April 1999 Men's Fitness article, life revolves around "the guns" for most guys, motivating them to work out relentlessly to get buff arms.

For women, the upper body tends to be a problematic area holding extra weight, according to the at iVillage Web site.

But not only women aim to tighten the arm muscles.

Shannon Peterson, a trainer in the Emerson College Fitness Center (ECFC) said many people just want to tone up. Toning, as opposed to muscle building, involves "more reps, less weight," Peterson said.

ECFC trainer Stacey Schaedler added that toning is not just about looks and trimming down. Increased strength and endurance also result from smooth exercises that emphasize repetition.

But if bulking up is a priority, a different approach to weightlifting should be taken. In contrast to toning, Peterson said "more weight, less reps equals muscle."

To many, this means "big guns."

Junior Paul Suda, an acting major, has been working out regularly since his freshman year. In the past few months, he has changed the way he works out and has seen the benefit.

"This past summer, I changed my routine, and I've gained 20 pounds," Suda said. "[With] fewer weights and more weight, I went from 195 pounds to 215."

Lifting to the point of passing out is not a fool-proof plan, however.

Schaedler said some of the most common weightlifting mistakes are lifting too fast, using too much weight, or a combination of both. Peterson agreed.

"Don't just jump in there and press 300 pounds," she said. For someone aiming to get their body in shape, start with lighter reps, Peterson said.

When working the upper body, the bicep (on the front of the upper arm), and the triceps muscles (on the back of the upper arm), should be the main focus.

When first working the biceps, iVillage suggests starting with the bicep curl using either a bar or free weights (dumbbells).

Peterson said sticking to the basic curl is not necessarily a bad thing.

"There's not too many different ways to work your biceps," she said, while adding that resistance "Thera-Bands" and the cable tower machine at the gym can add variation to the exercises.

To perform the bicep curl, iVillage says to stand up straight with arms down by sides and palms out.

Keep elbows close to waist and slowly bend the arms to bring the weight from thigh to chest level. Lower slowly and repeat for eight to 10 repetitions, three times.

When working the triceps, one can get more creative with their workout. According to Schaedler, triceps dips involve placing hands on a bench to support the body while feet are on the ground (easier) or a ball (harder).

One's legs should be straight, backside should be off and in front of the bench while bending at the elbows to lower the entire body, and then push back up.