Hundreds of thousands of people are trying to lose weight, but what is the best way for you? The variety of weight-loss products available are enough to make your head spin. Do you restrict your calories? Avoid gluten? Perform two hours of cardio each day? You will hear many of these suggestions and more, but weight training for weight loss is the way to go. Here are the answers to some FAQ about weight training and weight loss.
Why Weight Training?
When you are starting or in the middle of your weight loss efforts, you may question why weight training is important to reach your goals. Weight training increases the size of your muscle tissue. You have seen bodybuilders before—their muscles are huge. For your body to sustain this muscle tissue, it uses a lot more calories. As a result, the calories you eat are now being used to enhance your muscle tissue and operate your organs to keep you alive. In comparison, when you have less muscle tissue the excess calories are stored as fat—which is what you are trying to get rid of now.
Won’t I Bulk Up?
Many people fear looking like a bodybuilder if they weight train for weight loss. If you follow a total-body workout routine that stimulates muscle growth and calorie-burning, you will not bulk up. You will tone your muscles and increase muscle size, but you will remain proportionate to your body. Everyone’s body is different and has a different combination of hormones. Many women fear lifting weights because they do not want to get larger muscles. Typically, women do not have enough testosterone to develop gigantic muscles. Women do have the ability to tone, strengthen, and shape their body into a calorie-burning machine.
How Much Time Will I Need?
Another reason people avoid weight training is because they think it requires a large time commitment. The truth is, you can perform a total-body workout session in less than 60 minutes. In most cases, a workout can be completed within 30 minutes. You do not have to drive to a gym, although the equipment variety is helpful. Instead, you can purchase a set of dumbbells and workout gloves and shape your body at home if you need to save time. Your workout routine should focus on the large muscle groups such as your back, shoulders, chest, arms, legs, glutes, and abdominals. Your total-body session is performed three times a week and includes and exercise for each muscle group.
How Many Sets and Reps Should I Use?
Aim to complete up to three sets of each exercise. Perform eight to 12 repetitions with a weight that causes muscle fatigue toward the final two repetitions of each set. The goal is to challenge your muscles beyond your normal movements. For example, if you curl a pair of eight pound dumbbells for three sets of 12 repetitions, but feel as if you could keep going, you need to increase the weight load. Only after you stimulate your muscles will they make changes that burn calories.
How Long Should I Rest?
Rest between sets should be less than a minute. To make changes, you need to keep your muscles challenged. Rest days between workout sessions should be at least one day. Your muscles require a minimum of 24 hours to heal from the previous workouts. If you are short of time, eliminate rest altogether during the workout by performing supersets. For example, complete one set of biceps curls and immediately perform a set of triceps extensions. As the biceps are resting, the triceps are working and vice versa. You can use this pattern for chest and back exercises, quadriceps and hamstrings, or combine other body parts such as shoulder and calves, or forearms and abdominals.
What About Cardio?
Cardiovascular exercises such as walking, cycling, and swimming are an important part of your workout routine too, but most people who are trying to lose weight are already doing these. If you are spending hours each week performing cardiovascular exercises and not seeing weight loss results, it is time to pick up the weights. Plus, you can combine your cardio and weight training workouts into one with a time-saving, circuit workout. For example, perform a resistance exercise followed by one minute of jumping jacks or jogging in place. Then, perform a resistance exercise followed by another cardio burst. Repeat the cycle until you have finished your strength-training exercises.
Do I Still Use the Scale?
As you build muscle tissue, the number on the scale may rise slightly. Do not panic. This will even out and you will begin to see the pounds coming off once your body adjusts to your new routine. Remember, the more muscle tissue you develop, the higher number of calories your body needs to sustain itself. If you use a scale to monitor your progress, aim to weigh yourself at the same time of day and only once a week. Weight can vary throughout the day depending on how much food and water you intake and how much you eliminate. A better indicator is how your clothes are fitting or having a professional trainer measure your body fat.
How Much Can I Expect to Lose?
A healthy weight loss should be determined by you and your doctor. That said, you can expect to lose between one and two pounds each week if you are eating enough calories and performing your workouts. A weight loss at this speed is a healthy amount and one that your body is able to sustain.
What if I Slip?
Weight loss is a continual process not an immediate or one-time goal. Expect to have good days and bad days or good weeks and bad weeks. But aim to set your mind that you will have more good than bad times. Weight loss requires a change in mindset. You need to be focused on your goal at all times so you make healthy food choices and schedule workouts into your days. You reach any goal by staying the course and weight loss is no different.
How Do I Protect Myself from Injuries?
Weight training does bring a risk of injury, as does any physical activity, but you can minimize your risk. Always use proper form during your workouts to avoid muscle strains or joint concerns. It is important to use a variety of exercises to eliminate overuse injuries as well. Gradually increase the weight load instead of making large increases to protect your muscles and prevent heavy muscle soreness. Stay hydrated so circulation to your muscles is easy. Incorporate rest days into your schedule for muscle recovery. Wear comfortable and supportive shoes to provide a solid base for your weight training exercises for weight loss. Wear comfortable clothing that does not restrict your movements. Always warm-up before a strength-training session and cool down or stretch at the end. Stay focused on your goal, yet listen to your body. If you are extremely sore, wait another day before you work out again. Wear workout gloves to shield your hands from calluses and to strengthen your grip so you are able to stimulate muscle growth.