The New Year is a-coming. Are you armed and ready with your resolutions? Every year I repeat my number one goal – improve my health and lose a bit of weight. If you share this goal, may I make a suggestion? Try strength training.
When you add strength training you bump up your metabolism and burn fat and calories even when you're reading stories to your babes.
“Exercisers who added a total-body resistance routine lost more than twice as much body fat and four times as much belly fat as those who just did cardio workouts.” (i)
Unlike dieting, where you often see drastic weight loss that is put back on quickly, you’re less likely to regain lost pounds with strength training. It’s hard for your body to maintain dense muscle so you keep your fat-burners revving.
Here are the essentials of effective strength training:
1. Lift on each major muscle group twice a week. You can follow my blog to insure you're covering each muscle group or you can create your own schedule. My website – www.camichecketts.com - has a strength training guide and You Tube videos to help you get started. You can choose to do an all-over body workout twice a week or split upper and lower body and lift four days a week, whatever works for you. If you’re short on time, one day a week will show improvements in muscle strength and density therefore increasing your metabolism.
2. Lift slow and controlled. Two counts up, four counts down. Going slower on the down (lowering or eccentric) part of the move increases strength without increasing size. Very important for women who want to increase metabolism, functional strength, and looked toned. Don't rush through the moves or you're wasting your time. Focus on each rep and make it count. It is much more effective to do four reps correctly rather than rush through twelve.
3. Good form. Head in alignment with spine, shoulders down and back, abs in, bum tucked under. It's been proven that having good posture will make you look ten pounds lighter and facilitate quicker weight loss.
4. Challenge yourself. Don't use too light of weights. Many women fear they will bulk up from strength training. It's really hard to do that without testosterone or eating a lot of extra calories. You may weigh more if you strength train (muscle weighs more than fat) but you will be a smaller size and look immensely better - that to me is worth a higher number on the scale.
Strength training will make you look and feel thinner, but only if you lift heavy enough weights to challenge your muscles. By the end of an eight to ten repetition set the muscle you are working should be exhausted. Using light weights and lots of repetitions will make you feel tired and sore but it won't improve muscle density or strength and therefore won't increase your metabolism or make your muscles look nice and sleek. I recommend women begin with at least ten-pound weights and then work up as they increase in strength. If you're on a budget, buy exercise tubing, it's inexpensive and you can alter the resistance just by changing your grip.
5. Don't waste your time. Anything that focuses on a small muscle group (i.e. inner or outer thigh exercises, forearm exercises) is a waste of your time (unless you're ten percent body fat and training for Ms. Olympia). You cannot spot reduce - which means you can't work a certain spot on your body and burn the fat off of it. You can strengthen the muscle, but fat burns off all over your body and everyone has spots where fat loves to hang out. Don't waste time on a lot of ab curls either. It's good to do stabilization ab work to have a strong middle, but curls have been proven to be ineffective. Also, don't waste your time with a lot of expensive equipment. No matter what you see on television, most of those machines are a waste of money. All you need is a set of hand weights or bands and some good shoes so you can go on a walk, run, or bike ride.
Make strength training one of your top 2010 Resolutions. Your body will love you for life.
(i) “10 Flat-Belly Shortcuts” by Alyssa Shaffer, Prevention Magazine, December 2009.