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Workout Wednesday: Pumping Iron

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Feel like the only thing missing from booty bootcamp is the Spanish Inquisition? Does spinning on a stripper pole sound like a great way to get a nasty rash? Don't want to be chased up and down crumbling outdoor staircases by giant mosquitoes and killer bees?

But you'd still like to get in shape, right? Why not consider lifting weights?

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Weight training is good for you, as it increases strength, prevents age-related muscle loss (just look at Jack LaLanne), maintains bone density and joint flexibility and in some cases can help with Hollywood labor unrest-related depression and anxiety. It also makes you completely fearless when it comes time to put on that bathing suit and hit the beach.

It's easy to do, has a low risk of injury when done correctly, and you don't have to pay for an overpriced series of classes - you can join a gym if you like, and many people prefer to work out at the gym, but it's just as easy to work out at home - all you need is a bench (get one that can be set to both straight and slant positions quickly and easily. Cybex makes a very good one that can be bought used for far less than you'll spend on a series of pilates classes) or stability ball and some weights and you're on your way.

Since there's more than one way to work each muscle group, a workout outline isn't really possible here, but you can find some good info in Frederic Delavier's Strength Training Anatomy (separate editions for men and women), or Mark Vella's Anatomy for Strength and Fitness Training (separate editions for men and women). Both are excellent books detailing specific exercises with instructions for performing them correctly - Vella's book has more information on stability balls and stretchy bands than does Delavier's mainly bodybuilding-oriented work.

If the above two choices are a bit much for you, you'll find very effective workouts that you can do at home presented in a non-threatening style in Joyce Vedral's numerous books on weight workouts (best title? "The Cougar Workout". For older women, of course).

The key things to remember if you're just starting are:

Start slowly - use light weights and single sets at first, increasing the weight and sets gradually.

Always raise and lower the weights in a slow, controlled manner. Not only is using momentum cheating, but do you want to have a sweaty weight fly out of your hand, sail across the room, break a mirror and give you seven years of rotten luck? Of course not.

Take time to recover - work muscle groups every other day and let your body rest. - work upper body one day and lower body the next.

Don't let those old photos of a certain Governator scare you - it's not easy to get that big. If you're using light or moderately heavy weights for under an hour a day, you don't have to worry about getting pumped up like Aaaanold.

Overall Workout: Great. Works the entire body, plus unlike cardio-based workouts it is possible to spot-reduce with weights.
Hobby-Developing Potential: Addictive.
Next-Day Pain: Moderate if you start light and increase weight and sets gradually.
Cost: Varies, depending on if you're buying your own equipment or joining a gym. As little as $30 for a set of light hand weights and a stability ball from Target.