How often do you find yourself doing the same routine, 20 minutes on the treadmill followed by 20 minutes elliptical, stretch, shower and change?
Have you seen the results you wanted to see when you purchased your gym membership?
Many people believe that cardio and light weights performed at extremely high reps is the most effective way to lose weight. But the truth lies in strength training. Each day you lift a challenging weight anywhere between 8-15 reps for most parts of your body you are sculpting your fat into muscle. The more fat you switch to muscle, the higher your BMR (basal metabolic rate, the daily calories you need just to live), which means the more calories you burn on a daily basis (even when you aren’t working out). Unlike a cardio blast where you can burn hundreds of calories at one time, lifting weights sustains calorie usage throughout the rest of the day.
If you are nervous about starting with weights try going to a sleek and strong class at the gym. You can build a base of your own exercises that you can do on your own time. It is important to strength train 2-3 days a week not only for body composition, but also to decrease your risk for osteoporosis. When your muscles pull on your bones they actually increase in density over time, which counteracts the effects of bone loss with aging.
Along with lifting weights you should also be sure to fuel your body soon after a workout with a nutritious carbohydrate and protein food. Chocolate milk has recently been shown to be a great post workout supplement because the high amount of protein and sugars. Now that your BMR has increased because you have increased your lean body mass it is important to start eating 5-6 small meals a day to keep your calories burning and to prevent yourself from ever reaching extreme hunger levels.
Remember that you need to increase the amount of weight you lift overtime to slowly overload your muscles.
If you continue to use those 5-pound weights that were once challenging, eventually your muscles will adapt and you will stop increasing lean body mass.
Don’t worry though - if you vary up your workouts with tempo, lever length, variety of exercises, rest in between exercises, and muscles worked, then you won’t build ‘bulky’ muscles by increasing weight. If you are interested in building prominent defined muscles then choose weights that are very challenging and you can only complete 6-8 repetitions. Once you are able to do 10 with that weight it’s time to increase by 2.5% of the weight you are lifting now per week.
For example: if you had been lifting 10 pounds for a while, and now you can do ten reps, start lifting 10.25 pounds!