Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Weight a Minute

Think weight lifting isn’t for you? Reconsider the idea. Strength training has numerous benefits for males and females, and no—you’re not too old for it. There are several misconceptions when it comes to weight lifting.

Myth # 1: “If I want to lose weight or burn fat, I should only do cardio exercises.” While cardio is important for burning fat and losing weight, it isn’t the only component to consider. Strength training helps build and restore muscle.  The more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn in a day. A pound of muscle burns between 10 and 20 calories per day, while fat burns only 2 to 5 calories. Furthermore, strength training builds lean muscle tissue, strengthens bones, and speeds up your metabolism.

Myth # 2: “Lighter weights and more reps should be used to tone muscles.” While using lighter weights and performing more reps will increase your muscle endurance, it is not what creates the lean, defined look. To do this, you have to burn fat by creating an overall caloric deficiency through diet and exercise. This doesn’t mean that you cannot ever use the light weight/high rep method, but for weight loss use a variety of reps and weights. You should use enough weight to feel tired after roughly 12 repetitions.

Myth # 3: “You can reduce fat around specific areas of the body by performing exercises designed for that section of the body.” How we lose fat depends on genetics, hormones, and age. Losing fat around the mid section is most effective when creating a caloric deficiency. Meaning, you should eat less calories than what your body burns. Generally wherever you store excess fat is the place you’ll lose it last. For best results, health experts suggest regular exercise (comprised of both cardio and strength training) at least three times per week, along with a healthy low-calorie diet.  

Myth # 4: “After every workout you should be sore.” It is important to remember that soreness is normal for beginners of new activities. Soreness is due to the muscle fibers tearing and repairing, and the intensity of this process gradually decreases over time. To engage in a good workout, follow these guidelines: warm up, lift weight, work all muscle groups, and cool down. Make sure to change up your routine at least every six weeks.

Myth # 5: “Strength training makes women bulk up like men.” Women, and even some men, do not have enough testosterone necessary to create huge “bodybuilder-like” muscles. Lifting heavier weights can benefit both genders and it is the only way to increase strength and see results. Remember, lifting weights builds muscle and assists in burning fat, helping you look leaner overall.

Myth # 6: “I’m too old to lift weights.” There is absolutely no age limit for strength training. At any age, the benefits for strength training include improved balanced and coordination, greater strength and flexibility, weight management, and decreased risks for falling. Incorporating strength training to your exercise routine one to three days a week will help transform your health and body.

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