In my last blog article, I discussed the fact that many of us are looking to find alternative ways to exercise, given that COVID-19 has required us to shelve our usual activities, at least for the time being.
Today I’m discussing weight training, and why I believe it’s an important addition to anyone’s fitness program.
As a woman, there was a time I thought weight training would add bulk to my frame, which was not what I was going for. That hasn’t happened. What has happened is I’ve become stronger and leaner.
Because women have lower levels of testosterone than men, they are able to gain the benefits of strength training – muscle tone and definition – without increased size.
Another benefit of strength training is increased fat loss. Because strength training builds lean muscle, it can increase your metabolism because the more muscle you have, the more efficient your metabolism will be. A boosted metabolism burns fat more easily, reducing body fat and enhancing weight loss if that’s your goal.
Weight training can include body weight exercises, such as pushups and squats, and the assortment of strength training machines one can find in gyms or purchase for home use. In addition to what’s already been mentioned, the benefits are many. For example:
- Increased bone density and bone health.
- Helps control blood sugar.
- May reduce anxiety and depression.
- Boosts brain health.
- Reduces risk of injury and back pain.
- Improved athletic performance – agility, power and endurance.
Good form is important in strength training, so enlisting a few sessions with a trainer can be a good idea at first. Once you have a program in place, a strength training program can easily be carried out at home, with a minimal investment in a set of basic weights.
How much should you train? The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that healthy adults train two to three times per week. Sessions should be spaced so as to include a 48 hour break between sessions.
The ACSM also recommends starting with eight to 10 different exercises, doing eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise to improve strength and power. To improve endurance, increase to 10 to 15 repetitions. The weight that you use should be one that you reach fatigue within the repetition range — that’s when you don’t think you can lift one more repetition with good form.
Obviously, the program should take into account one’s regular physical activity, general health and goals. This is where investing in a few sessions with a trainer can be invaluable in the beginning. And, as always, be sure to check with your physician before starting a new exercise program.
Next up: Yoga and Pilates.