Lift Weights To Lose Weight (seriously!)
by Kathy Smith
As the years go by, life seems to be a little sweeter, doesn’t it? There’s the true joy you feel as you watch your children take tentative steps on their own paths and then develop the confidence to fly. And with each new day, you begin to appreciate the chirping birds and the sound of the rain on the roof. As wonderful as this time of life is, we all seem to be realizing that the more birthday candles you blow out, the more difficult it is to lose weight.
Here’s what happens…In your youth, estrogen surges and your body naturally stores protective fat around your hips and buns to prepare for pregnancy. Then as you reach your 40s and 50s, that fat moves up your body, settling around your midsection. The dreaded middle age spread.
It’s time to forget the idea that those pesky pounds are stuck right where they are. The good news is that even though shedding unwanted weight may seem difficult as you age, lifting weights can help you lose inches in record time. It may sound like an oxymoron, but when you strength train you not only tone your tush and tighten your tummy, you also shed pounds. Strength training helps you create a lean, mean metabolism-boosting machine, so you burn more fat, more easily, in less time.
So if you have any misconceptions about strength training that are preventing you from reaping all these benefits, let’s nip that in the bud right now. Time to bust a few myths of strength training….
MYTH 1. You must have weights
Dumbbells are the classic weights that are used in weight loss strength training and you’ll see me use them in my workouts, but you have plenty of other options, too. Kettlebells and tubing can both be part of a fabulous weight-loss workout. But the really great news is that your body weight is all you need for some of the most effective strength training moves there are, like pushups, planks, or wall sits. By supporting your own body weight, you create natural resistance, which forces your muscles to engage deeper and the result is a firm, toned body that burns fuel more efficiently.
MYTH 2. Concentrate on one move at a time
For more effective results, it’s better to work multiple muscle groups simultaneously, sometimes called functional movements. Working with kettlebells, for example, allows you to incorporate full-body moves that not only save time and burn calories more efficiently, but they also tone the shoulders, arms, abs, buns, and legs….at the same time! Functional movements also help you keep your heart rate up during a strength training workout to burn fat while you tone.
MYTH 3. It’s all about lifting
Actually, that’s only half the battle. Strength training involves BOTH lifting (the concentric movement that happens when muscles shorten and contract) AND lowering (the eccentric movement that happens when muscles lengthen). When done properly, it’s the lowering motion that provides resistance training. So on your next set of bicep curls, don’t cheat yourself by putting all the effort in the curl up and then dropping the weights back down; slowly lower back to the starting position, so that you feel the tension throughout the entire movement.
MYTH 4. You’re going to get big and bulky
No worries here. Women just don’t have enough testosterone to develop a bodybuilder’s physique. Most of the bulked up folks you see at the gym are spending hours lifting heavy weights and following a specific regimen of supplements. For the rest of us, strength training with moderate weights has a very different effect – strong, lean muscles that give us the sculpted, toned look we all want.
MYTH 5. Muscles grow while you’re working out
Have you heard of “tear and repair”? Believe it or not, muscle change takes place after exercising. During a workout you’re trying to push your muscles to the point that actual microscopic tears occur (don’t worry – your body appreciates the process, I promise!). When your body repairs the tears, the muscle is stronger than before. That’s why it’s important to limit strength training to every other day and to provide your body with nutritious fuel, so it has everything it needs for healthy recovery.
MYTH 6. Strength training is only for the young
Who said there’s an age limit to improving muscle tone? We lose muscle mass as we age, so staying strong becomes even MORE important with every single year. In addition, strong muscles also support and protect aging bones and help you maintain good balance.
Sure, a sculpted upper body looks great in short sleeves or a bathing suit, but don’t forget those muscles do more than look good. They also help with everyday activities, like carrying groceries, twisting lids off jars, and picking up little ones. And the benefits don’t stop there; strength training also can burn fat, lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and prevent osteoporosis and bone fractures.
You deserve a strong and lean body that makes you feel empowered, confident, and energized…So start lifting weights to lose weight today!