Friday, September 16, 2011

Weight Training for Weight Loss

Back in the day..... late 80's to mid 90's..... I was the "Cardio Queen" as owner and instructor at the first Trim Up.   Fitness was all about aerobics, with a few light weights thrown in now and then.
(notice my Jumbo sweet tea in the corner - my fuel of choice back then)

Even though my eating habits were spotty - I did cook a good bit but was light on protein and high on "fat-free" aka sugary foods, and diet coke was a staple - I managed to stay trim and a size 8 for a decade. Being in my 30's, I had a great metabolism, especially with all of the aerobics and still had a youthful body.

     And then I turned 40 and things started getting weird.  It was a combination of Trim Up closing (less exercise) and an early menopause.  The next few years started a gentle slope towards weight gain, less energy, knee pain and mental confusion with a touch of anxiety.  Luckily hormone replacement therapy helped with most of my ailments but my body was still betraying me.

     It wasn't until I re-opened Trim Up and started back to regular workouts (aerobics 4-5x a week plus a little weight training) that I felt good about my body again.  But I still had to really watch the calories or I would notice my weight creeping back up and get that bloated feeling.

     Gradually through these past 4 years, I have improved my diet to where I truly don't miss diet coke or fast food and rarely crave sugar.  I also supplement with whey protein at least once a day. But the biggest difference was in the change I made in my exercise routine.
     Two years ago I had a "AHA" moment at a fitness conference where I was finally convinced that the way to change your body and metabolism was heavy weights and interval training.  I added Interval class format to our schedule where we use heavier wts for fewer reps along with full body movement for short bursts of high intensity.  I have noticed that I am leaner, with more muscle (my daughter tells me that I am finally getting a butt!) and can eat more - even carbs - without feeling any difference in my body.  And I only teach 2 lower intensity cardio classes each week;  the other classes are Interval or Weight Circuit.

      I also make sure that I get 2 whole body vibration workouts each week, as it keeps me exercising to my full potential without my usual neck, elbow or sciatic nerve pain.  WBV also helps produce more Human Growth Hormone that stimulates muscle growth and it works those hard to reach reflex or "fast-twitch" muscles.  I think that is the biggest reason for my butt lift!

     Anyway, now that I am a believer, it seems that I come across more and more reports, studies and articles that explain how the old way of long duration aerobics for more fat loss is outdated.  I recently had informational seminars called LIFT for LIFE to pass along the newest findings on how to exercise more effectively and to encourage women to weight train properly.  Here are the highlights:
       > Weight lifting stimulates fat-burning hormones that burn more fat, up to 48 hours after your workout. Cardio burns more calories initially, but WT does more for your metabolism and fat loss.

       > Osteoporosis should be a real concern for women over age 50 as  there is no "cure".  But weight training can actually reverse the bone loss.  Other weight bearing exercise like walking is not enough overload to build bone density - it needs to be high impact like jogging or jumping - but that only works the lower body.

       > Building muscle mass with weight training will protect your body from injury and help recovery from illness or injury; it gives you energy and lowers risk of heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

      > Full body weight training in intervals is the most efficient and effective workout for weight loss - in only half the time of regular cardio.

      > If you are losing weight from a diet or calorie restriction, you will also lean muscle if you are not keeping up with weight training.  And you will quickly gain the weight back once calories increase, unless you build muscle to boost metabolism.

Cardio is easy enough to do on your own but most people need guidance to weight train.  Getting a personal trainer, at least for awhile to help set up a weight routine, is a good idea.  Or join in some group classes that use heavy enough weight to fatigue muscle groups in only 8-12 repetitions, and if it is done in an interval format with compound movements, it will be a cardio workout as well.

For more results and time better spent with exercise, resist the urge to do what you are comfortable with and have always known, and follow the experts advice!