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Less Time, More Burn

How many of you have spent hour upon hour chugging along on the elliptical? Or thought, “I’ll just run 5 miles, then I’ll be good to go.”

*Disclaimer: I am not a certified personal trainer. HOWEVER, I have read all the ACE personal training materials, I have spent countless hours with fitness professionals, and I do enough research to feel confident in making the following statements.

Cardio does have a purpose, yes. And getting your heart rate up has immense benefits for your body, such as:

  • Improved functioning of the heart and lungs
  • Immediate flow of “feel good” hormones in the body
  • Calorie burn and an increase in metabolism

But what if I told you, you could lift weights for half the time, and see greater results in your body? So many women skimp on strength-training, but it’s exactly what they need to get the body they are after.

When I talk to my clients about lifting, they typically say to me, “I don’t want to get big and bulky.” Listen… it takes hours of dedication and a rigid diet to get bulked up. Trust me when I say, lifting weights a few times a week at the gym is not going to land you a spot in the local body-building contest.

It will, on the other hand, lift, tone, tighten, and make you stronger. That’s what you’re striving so hard for on the cardio machines isn’t it? There is a better way.

Why is it better, you ask? Well, there are quite a few wonderful reason, but I’ll just name a few of my favorites.

For one, building muscle will result in long-term maintenance. Reducing fat is great, but when you replace that fat with muscle, your body will naturally burn more calories. Muscles require more calories to make and maintain, adding a great boost to your metabolism.

Also, applying the force of a weight to your bones will cause your bones to strengthen while your muscles strengthen. This is especially important as you get older.

Another great reason to strength-train is the positive effect is has on your body mechanics. When using proper form, this type of training can reinforce good posture, flexibility, and balance.

And my favorite reason is, it provides instant gratification. In no time, you are able to increase the weight you’re reaching for and see the differences in your body. You see, when you lift a weight, your muscle-fibers are actually tearing. Then, when they rebuild, they come together stronger than before. With proper technique, nutrition, and rest, this can be a relatively quick process that you can feel and see in a few short weeks.

So not only will your muscles look more toned more quickly, you don’t have to spend an hour on the elliptical AND you’ll maintain your hard-work for longer.

(EverydayHealth.com has some simple and great information on cardio vs. strength training.)

Do I have you hooked yet?!

But where do you start? What do you do? Maybe you’ve never lifted a weight in your life… here’s a few tips!

  • Start Simple
    • You can do body-weight exercises that do not require any equipment.
    • Focus on one area of the body at a time.
  • Always work opposing muscle groups
    • If you work your bicep (front of arm), also work your tricep (back of arm).
    • If you work your quad (from of leg), also work your hamstring (back of leg).
    • A basic “bend-and-unbend” approach will be fine to start.
  • “If you can do 8, it’s not enough weight.”
    • When choosing a weight to lift, start light and work your way up by 2-3 pounds at a time.
    • If it’s a struggle to get to 5 reps, you may have too much weight. If it’s easy to get to 8 reps, you may have too light of a weight.
    • It will take some time to first learn where you are at, but be patient. Once you have it down, you’ll easily be able to pick up where you left off the next time you work that muscle.
  • Take it slow.
    • 3 sets of 5-8 repetitions is sufficient for a good workout. BUT - - let your muscles rest about 90 seconds in between sets.
    • I will work other muscles while the first muscle rests, creating a circuit. You may make a circuit to work varying muscle groups, or simply give yourself a break in between.
  • Borrow a plan
    • There are THOUSANDS of pre-planned strength-training workouts floating around on the internet. Use them!
    • Pick 1 plan to start and use if for a month, or until you get bored. Then pick a new one. I wouldn’t suggest picking a new one every week.
    • You should look for a plan that spans a few days: “arm day,” “leg day,” chest and back day,” abs and back day,” etc. You’ll want a few rest days and a little cardio thrown in there as well.
    • Pinterest: “Beginner women strength-training circuit”
    • Your workout should last 30-45 minutes, with rests included.

YOU. WILL. BE. SORE. Please don’t give up! (This, of course, assuming you’re sore from a good muscle-burn, NOT a sharp-pain or injury-type of sore. If you’re unsure, ask a health care professional.)

I highly suggest hiring a personal trainer if you have no experience with weights. Have someone set you up with proper form, safe starting weights, and to get you familiar with the different types of equipment and machines that are available. Whether you attend a gym or work-out from home, it’s always best to have someone who knows what they are doing to help you get started. This will prevent injury, prevent bad habits, and prevent you from giving up before you’ve given it a fair shot. You don’t have to have one forever (unless you want to!), but it’s a good way to get started.

Give strength-training a try… I promise it will be worth it!

I look forward to seeing more of these: #ilift #armdaywin #strongisthenewhealthy
and whatever other clever things you can come up with…

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