You don’t have to be a bodybuilder to start a weight training program, but you will build a better, toned body by using resistance techniques such as weights or hydraulics (devices that operate with pressurized liquid), in combination with aerobic exercise.
The good news is that it doesn’t take much to have a big impact. With the proper resistance (even low resistance or lighter weight), you can reap the benefits with as little as a single set of 12 to 15 repetitions to improve bone density, lose fat, create more lean muscle mass, boost metabolism, and increase strength.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends, ideally, 250 minutes of cardio per week, and working weights into your routine at least two to three times per week for greater weight loss. Depending upon how fit you are currently, you may not be able to achieve this, so try targeting five to six days of exercise per week for as long as you can. This will allow your body to gradually increase tolerance. If you’re practicing interval training (after checking with your doctor), you’re doing a combo of both moderate and vigorous exercise. Rest one full day in between exercising specific muscle groups, in order to give your muscles time to recover.
You can use free weights, or weight machines, if you have access, but if you don’t, or if your health condition prohibits weight use, try body weight resistance (like push-ups), or resistance bands.
The keys to weight training are:
- Start slowly by learning the proper technique from a fitness trainer.
- Warm up first with five to 10 minutes of brisk walking, and be sure to stretch gently.
- Use the proper weight for your ability (enough to tire your muscles after 12 to 15 reps), and gradually increase the weight as you progress in your workouts. Never strain or overdo it!
- Take time to rest a full day in between weight sessions.
- Check with your doctor, as always, before starting any exercise routine (especially one with weights).
By Lisa Miceli Feliciano