SolveYourProblem Article Series: Weight Loss & Dieting
How Do I Really Lose Weight?


Weight Training & Losing Weight

According to Tufts University researcher Miriam Nelson, and author of Strong Women Stay Slim, women who lifted weights and dieted shed 44% more fat than women who only dieted. This is because muscle, unlike fat, is active tissue, meaning that it burns calories daily in order to maintain itself. Building muscle actually helps you burn fat and lose weight.

This is the “other” form of exercise, and represented separately in this list because both weight training and cardiovascular exercise are part of a complete exercise program, each one providing benefits the other doesn’t offer. Running doesn’t substitute for push-up. And bench presses don’t do the same thing as play racquetball.

For the healthiest overall results from a weight training program, be sure to give equal attention to both the upper and lower body. It’s a natural inclination to be drawn more to one or the other – desiring to build up either your shoulders, arms, chest, and back, or legs and buttocks. But for the healthiest results from your weight lifting efforts, you must develop both your upper and lower bodies. Having a disproportionately built upper or lower body can easily lead to health complications in the underdeveloped portion.

Another key to maximizing the gains and minimizing the pains when pumping iron is to balance out each exercise you perform by next performing one that strengthens the opposing muscle group. For example: if you pump your biceps, next pump your triceps; if you pump your thighs, next pump your hamstrings. A simple way to look at it is this: if you work out a muscle group on the front of your body, switch next to working out the opposite muscle group on the back of your body.

In general, 3 smaller sets of any given exercise is recommended over 1 larger one as the intermittent periods of rest after each repetitions (“reps”) strengthen the muscles enough to get more out of the subsequent rep. How much to lift and how many reps to do depends on your goals. If toning existing muscle mass is your goal, then lift more frequent reps of lighter weight. If building new muscle mass is your goal, then lift fewer reps of heavier weight.

If you plan to include cardiovascular exercise and strength training exercise in the same workout, perform the strength training exercises first. This is because the body puts the fuel it burns to use in a particular order, and while you can maintain plenty of energy to work out aerobically after lifting weights, doing cardiovascular exercise first can easily exhaust you before you get your weight training in.

Finally, there’s a deceptive aspect to the dividing of the concept of Exercise into two categories – cardiovascular and strength training – and that is this: one can also be the other. In the case of strength training, it can easily double as cardiovascular exercise as long as you remember to consciously breathe while you lift weights.

Breathing is an essential element of receiving the benefits of weight lifting anyway, as the blood cells responsible for the process of mending the muscle tears weight lifting causes feed on oxygen. The more we feed our body oxygen while we’re working out, the greater the effects of each rep. The way to breathe when lifting weights is consistent throughout: breathe in when you flex the muscle group being affected; breathe out when you relax the affected muscle group.

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