Dec 1st, 2012
Author: Avadean Lewis
Category: Healthy Weight Loss
Most people begin exercising to lose weight by focusing on cardiovascular activity first. They tend to take this approach because they think that is the best way to increase their heart rate and burn calories. But what many don’t realize is that strength training can be just as important as cardio for numerous reasons, including the fact that increasing the percentage of muscle in your body can help increase metabolism.
As we age we lose muscle mass – about half a pound of muscle a year on average after age 25. But it’s never too late to start strength training. A 2009 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people in their late 60s who performed strength training three times a week for 20 weeks helped to maintain their muscle mass. Strength training can also help to maintain bone mass, which can prevent the development of osteoporosis.
If you’re following a medical weight loss program, your physician will perform a body composition analysis to tell you what percentage of your body is composed of muscle, fat, and water. This will help you determine what type of exercise you should do to increase your muscle percentage and lower your fat percentage if needed.
Tips for Getting Started with Weights
- Begin with light weights and lots of repetitions. You don’t want to risk injury by attempting to lift heavy weights right off the bat. Instead, try 2- to 3-pound weights in sets of 14 to 20 repetitions.
- Consult with a personal trainer or exercise instructor. If you’ve never lifted weights before, you want to make sure you’re doing it the right way. Make sure your trainer or a fitness expert monitors you the first time you try any new weightlifting activity to help correct your form and prevent injury.
- Alternate weights and aerobic activity. Lifting weights every day is not a good idea; you need to give your muscles time to rest and recuperate between sessions. Instead, work up to strength training two or three times a week, with at least a day of rest in between, to see maximum benefits.
Is Strength Training for Everyone?
Unless a person has diagnosed injuries, sicknesses or other limiting issues, strength training is a wonderful tool. Women are sometimes afraid that strength training will to lead to big, bulky muscles and an unfeminine shape. In reality, the contrary is true. Through combining proper cardio and strength training techniques, women can tone their muscles and increase definition.
Is Strength Training Enough by Itself?
Strength training, by itself, builds muscles. Lean muscle burns fat, even when the body is at rest. But, no matter how strong or defined a muscle is, if it is hidden under layers of fat, then the muscle will not show through. In order to gain definition, a woman should do cardio training on top of strength training. Cardio training helps to melt away the fat that hides the muscle. Cardio combined with lifting equals the maximum number of calories burned. Burning calories leads to weight loss if the body is using more energy than it is consuming.
Is There a Specific Program to Follow?
In order to achieve weight loss instead of adding bulk, women should follow a strength training program of a specific number of sets, repetitions and weight. When lifting weights, women should do 1 to 3 sets of an exercise. Each set should consist of 12 to 15 repetitions. The exerciser’s muscles should be tired, and the exercise should be hard to complete, in the final 3 repetitions. A lower amount of repetitions (8 to 10) will lead to big, bulky muscles. A weight that does not fatigue the muscle in the last 3 repetitions will not create change. Every movement of a weight should be slow and controlled.
The appropriate cardio plan to follow depends on a person’s ability. People that do not have a good cardio base should complete a low intensity cardio workout for 30 minutes. People that have a strong cardio base should use interval cardio training for 30 minutes. Interval cardio training consists of periods of different work intensities. With interval cardio training, an exerciser should work in low, medium and high stages and alternate continuously between the 3 stages.