Is Weight Training For You?

Maybe you watch people at the gym, huffing, puffing, grunting and sweating at the weight machines or free weights and think, “No way I want to do that!” You’re not sure you would benefit from lifting weights, especially since you have no desire to look like a body builder.


You can benefit from lifting weights even if you do it only a couple of times each week. Weight training can help improve your muscle tone, build lean muscle mass and help you lose weight. No matter how old or young you are, weight training is good for you.

As we age, we lose muscle mass. Lost muscle will be replaced by flabby fat if you don’t do something to rebuild lost muscle. Muscle tissue requires more energy to function than other tissues, therefore it uses more calories. Your metabolism will increase slightly as you gain muscle and burn fat. Increased muscle mass also means your endurance will improve. You will be able to work your muscles harder for a longer period of time. Weight training stresses your muscles causing them to adapt, which makes them grow stronger.

Start with a weight that you can lift, but tires your muscles after 10 to 12 repetitions. Beginners should start with one set of 8 to 10 repetitions of any lifting exercise. You should be barely able to lift the weight on the last repetition.  When you can do 12 repetitions without fatigue, increase the weight by adding 2 to 5 pounds.

Learn proper lifting technique before you grab the dumbbells. A fitness trainer can help you learn the correct way to lift so that you enjoy the benefits of weight training while reducing your risk of injury. Don’t forget to warm-up before lifting. Do some light exercise, such as brisk walking or calisthenics.

Rest one full day between weight training workouts. Your muscles need at least one full day to repair and recover. You can work your core, legs and thighs one day, and then your arms, chest, shoulders and upper back on the next day. Your workout can be as long as you feel comfortable exercising. You can exercise for 15 minutes, 20 minutes or longer. Adjust your workout to suit your strength, overall level of fitness and your time schedule.


Smart Workouts

Photo Credit: Kelly Gary USDOD PD
There are many myths about exercise. Despite the infomercials and wild promises, losing weight and getting in shape requires regular exercise and a healthy diet. There is no “magic” pill or overnight miracle exercise. You can make the most of your exercise program to shed more pounds faster and avoid injury. Make the most of the time you do have for exercise by working out smarter, not harder.
You’ve probably heard the expression “no pain, no gain.” Exercise shouldn’t cause pain. You may experience some mild soreness in your muscles if you are a beginner or if you try a new exercise, but persistent or sharp pain may indicate an injury. Mild soreness in the muscle tissue may be expected after a vigorous workout, especially if you try a new routine. Soreness that lasts for more than a couple of days, especially if accompanied by swelling or discoloration of the skin may indicate an injury that requires medical attention. If you feel any sudden, sharp or severe pain during exercise, stop immediately. See your doctor if the pain persists. 
One way to exercise smarter and help avoid injury is to warm-up before and cool-down after exercise by stretching your body. Many people don’t take the time to warm-up and to cool-down because of busy lifestyles and little time. Warm-up and cool-down for about 5 to 10 minutes. The warm-up will help prepare your muscles for more strenuous exercise to help you avoid injury. The cool-down will help your muscles begin to repair any tiny tears in the tissue, which causes muscle soreness. 
To get the most out of your workout each week, balance the three types of exercise: strength training, aerobic exercise and flexibility. Strength training includes resistance band exercises, weight lifting and isometric exercises that use your own body weight to strengthen muscles, such as push-ups and planks. Any exercises that gets your heart rate up is an aerobic exercise. Walking, running, swimming, riding a bicycle or playing a high-intensity game like tennis or basketball will get your heart pumping and your body sweating. Stretching and balance exercises help improve your flexibility. Yoga, tai chi, balance board exercises or just stretching out your muscles by reaching and bending can help improve your flexibility. 
You don’t have to work out for extended periods of time. You can spread it out over the day in 10-minute intervals. Spreading out your exercise throughout the day is a smart way to workout. Everyone should strive to get about 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise every week. You can cut the time spent exercising in half by getting 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise weekly. Exercise daily to keep your metabolism up and your body in fat-burning mode. Exercise for 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes midday and 10 minutes in the late afternoon or early evening to get the minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week.