Fitness with Jennifer Hale
Weight training is as important to my exercise routine as cardio is – a fact which seems to surprise many females. Several sets of dumbbells in various weights live in my home office, right next to my printer. Even on days I don’t get a full workout in, I try to at least take ten minutes for some squats and curls. I love waking up and feeling a little tightness in my arms or thighs – letting me know I really put my muscles to work the day before. Whether you’re a guy trying to gain size or a girl trying to fit into last year’s jeans, strength training is a crucial part of any fitness equation. Does it sound strange, ladies? Here are a few reasons why you should incorporate weights into your life.
1. The more muscle you have, the more fat and calories you’ll burn, even when your workout is over. You may hear trainers say it in terms of “muscles are more metabolically active than fat.” Resistance training is a fabulous way to rev your metabolism. When you’re lifting weights or even using your own body weight to challenge your muscles, you’re breaking down the muscle fibers. The body will then repair your muscles over the next day or so. That takes energy, so your body is constantly working, burning calories. That’s also why you shouldn’t work the same area two days in a row – give your body the chance to fully recover.
2. I know, I know: you don’t want to bulk up or get any bigger in your arms, thighs, or calves. Me either. I’m a big fan of CrossFit, but I always scale the weight down from what the instructors say the girls should be lifting. I want high reps and moderate weight to tone the muscle I already have, not to add bulk and try to look jacked. Here’s the key: fat takes up more room than muscle, so if you increase your muscle and decrease your fat from resistance training, you can actually lose inches. There are different opinions on exactly how much difference there is, but the most common comparison that I’ve been taught – and the one that LiveStrong.com quotes – is that muscle takes up approximately four-fifths as much space as fat. That means two people can be the exact same height and weight, but wear different sizes because the one with more muscle will have less volume – or be smaller.
3. We lose muscle as we age, a process that starts generally between the ages of 30 and 35, then escalates the older we get. To combat that natural phenomena, you need to proactively address it by adding a weight training regimen to your routine, just like perhaps taking the right vitamins, coloring graying hair or using eye serums to battle crow’s feet. Good muscle tone helps with a variety of health issues from the obvious battle against the bulge to bone density problems, balance concerns and high blood pressure.