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4.26.2005

Getting Fit... Don't Resist Resistance Training

By Lori Miroslaw, a 20-year fitness veteran and owner of M.Power

It's finally Spring, you started 2005 with a vengeance to get fit by summer. Yet, it's 3 months later and you have already stopped your fitness program. What happened?

New Year's resolutions always send us into a frenzy to "get fit quick". We spend countless dollars joining health clubs and buying expensive equipment only to find that attaining our fitness goals is not as easy as it looks. Why?

Many spend hours on cardio machines in an attempt to lean down their waistlines and lose weight. From treadmills to elliptical trainers, people walk, run and glide with the goal of flat stomachs and toned muscles only to find that boredom settles in before their fitness goals are realized. Because of their lack of results people stop working out. Cardiovascular training is necessary to lose weight and work our hearts, but alone, it will not give you the toned arms, legs and stomachs that you are seeking.

To attain the type of results most seek, you MUST do resistance training to develop muscle. As we age, muscles atrophy at a rate of 10% per decade, without rebuilding the muscle, the decline in lean mass contributes to weight gain and loss of tone and ultimately, loss of function.

Regaining your muscles or muscle hypertrophy can occur regardless of age. Studies demonstrate that even muscles lost for years can be regained and developed with only a modest resistance training program. Within only three months, participants in their 90's found that they could regain 200% of their strength with only 3 workouts a week.

Why then do we resist resistance training? Many individuals do not even know how to lift weights. Others refuse feeling the weight training will "make them bigger". Remember muscle is lean mass, it's the subcutaneous fat on top of the muscle that makes you "bigger".

Besides the obvious benefit of a more toned body, the other health factors of an increased metabolism and functionality need to be recognized as well. For every pound of muscle you acquire through resistance training, you gain an average of 50 to 100 calories a day that your body burns maintaining the muscle. So rid your body of unsightly fat, tone your muscles, be more active, slow down aging and rev up your metabolism simply by adding resistance training to your routine!

Instead of running 5 days a week, run 3 and lift weights on alternate days. Or reduce your cardio time and add a simple strength training routine on 3 of those days. Start slowly, get the proper instructions, be consistent, yet patient. It usually takes 6 to 8 weeks to see the effects of your efforts.

Strength training is also affordable! For a minimum investment in resistance tubing or free weights, you can do your workouts in the privacy of your own home for less than $20. Once the exercises get easy, simply go to the next level of weights. Don't stop once you start, muscles need to be worked to stay active. As you age, to be active, you must have muscles! The old adage, "use it or lose it" is true when it comes to our muscles.

Progressive overload is the basis of strength training, to continue to evolve you must increase the resistance to the muscle, that is where many fail. Just remember, start slowly, you do not want to get injured by tearing your muscles by lifting too much weight too soon.

Resistance training does work! As a personal trainer, I have personally seen hundreds of bodies shape up in only 30 minutes 3 times a week. Hire a personal trainer to set you up in a program if you are new. I have put together two workout posters for those unable to hire a trainer based on the same workout programs I have developed for hundreds of my clients. Both products, based on resistance training are easy to follow and affordable. The "Fitness Around the World" travel kit is great to have because it is lightweight and can virtually go anywhere. It also comes in 3 different levels of resistance to accommodate your current fitness level.

So, take heed from a 20-year fitness veteran, "stop resisting, resistance training, and you will succeed in achieving your fitness goals."

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