For long-term health it is extremely important we lift weights. Weight training is not just for those who want to look like Arnold Swarzenegger! By the age of 65, people who do not exercise will lose up to 40% of their total body strength. We need strength to be able to function in our daily tasks, whether it be carrying the groceries, lifting the baby into the car seat, bending to pick something up, or opening a jar. Stronger people also live longer, and cope with life’s hardships more effectively. We also need to lift weights for toning! Therefore it is very important we incorporate some form of resistance exercise into our weekly routines.
Almost every day I hear women say they do not lift weights because they do not want to look ‘bulky’ and have big muscles like a man. Ladies, this just will not happen! Our bodies are made very differently to the male of our species; we do not have the types or levels of hormones which men have that are required for such muscle growth. What we do gain though if we lift weights, is toning, fat loss, strength, raised metabolism (= fat burning!), improved mood, and an increase in energy.
Here are some tips on how to reach your goals effectively and safely by lifting weights:
• Lift weights regularly! Aim for 2 or 3 resistance training sessions per week.
• Follow a customised exercise program provided for you by a qualified fitness professional.
• Learn correct technique with a personal trainer, or you will likely injure yourself and waste time with ineffective exercise.
• Progress gradually, start with body-weight exercises, work up to gym machines and free-weights.
• Don’t bother with silly 1 and 2 kg dumbbells! Lifting weights should be a challenge, otherwise you just won’t get results.
• Start with a weight you can manage for 3 sets of 8-12 reps, but heavy enough to struggle on the last 2 or 3 reps per set.
• Do not train the same muscle group/s on consecutive days; rest the body for 48 hours after an intense workout.
• Do not leave too long between workouts – muscles need to be ‘shocked’ so they adapt and improvements are noticed.
• Vary your workouts every few weeks, otherwise you will plateau – have a qualified PT customise a new program for you.
• Understand that some muscle soreness is normal, but listen to your body and rest for longer if discomfort is excessive.
• Also perform aerobic exercise – for example, incorporating boxing into your routine is GUARANTEED to get you results!
• Warm-up at the start of every session before you lift, and cool-down and stretch thoroughly at the end.
• Consume the right amounts and types of food for your activity level and goals.
• Drink plenty of water to ensure muscles function effectively (but do not drink too much).
• Stop focusing on body ‘weight’! Instead have a PT measure your body fat % and muscle mass, and set relevant goals.
• Understand that muscle weighs more than fat, so when you look better you could actually weigh MORE!
• Even if experienced at exercise, see a personal trainer to ensure you are exercising safely, effectively, and efficiently.
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