No matter what your health and fitness goals may be, resistance training, also known as weight lifting, needs to be a part of your program. It has always surprised me how many people completely ignore this mode of exercise. I believe that this is mostly due to a variety of myths and misconceptions about strength training. I thought I’d use this post to answer some of my most commonly asked questions about resistance training. Remember, always meet with your doctor to get clearance before starting any new exercise program.
1) I’m trying to lose weight, so I don’t need resistance training, right?
Wrong! Resistance training is a pivotal component of the weight loss process. There are two reasons why this is so: 1) Once we hit our 25th birthday, we start to lose muscle mass at the rate of 1% each year as a natural part of the aging process. This is a problem because every pound of muscle burns roughly 50 calories per day. So as you age, you are burning fewer and fewer calories each year. The result is that it is much easier to gain weight. Weight lifting stops this loss of muscle and can even add to your muscle mass so you burn more calories each and every day, just by breathing.
2) The second reason why weight training is so important has to do with our body’s natural defense mechanisms to weight loss. When you lose weight without strength training, your body will let a little fat go, and then starts to freak out. The human body does not consider low body fat a good situation since we evolved in times of food scarcity and famine. So, it starts to preserve your body fat and burn muscle instead. It is estimated that weight loss without strength training results in 50% fat loss and 50% muscle loss. Over time, this will lower your metabolism and make it all but impossible to keep the weight off. If you add weight training to your weight loss program, you’ll lose virtually 100% fat and keep your metabolism revved up.
2) Won’t I bulk up and become muscle bound if I lift weights?
3) I’m too old for this sort of exercise, right?
Wrong! You can build muscle until the day you die, no matter how old you are. I have clients in their 80’s who lift weights and enjoy a much higher level of functionality than their peers as a result.
4) How often should I work out?
The goal is three whole body workouts per week, but you can get away with two. Do not work out two days in a row. Try to separate your training sessions by at least a day (IE, Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday). Your muscles need time to recover after a workout.
5) What equipment do I need?
If you want to join a gym and use all the fancy machines, feel free to! I love working out at nice gyms and did so for years. As I’ve gotten older and much busier with my business, I strongly prefer working out at home. It is a real time saver. Women basically just need a few pairs of dumbbells and an exercise mat to get a great workout. Men generally need a little bit more weight but can get an inexpensive weight set and a basic bench for a small investment. If you are interested in learning more about equipment for your home gym, check out this older post here.