By: John Kecman, Fitness and Personal Training Director
Are you trying to “tone up” a bit? Are you doing lots of reps with lightweight? Is this working? There is no singular method of training that makes you “tone.” The concept of toning is a false construct. You can change your body composition by building muscle or preserving muscle as you lose fat. Muscles do not get soft and you cannot train fat.
Doing high rep exercises and very light weights alone will not help body composition. Eventually, you plateau and there will be no visible change. Modifying your rep ranges and weights used makes all the difference. Lifting moderate to heavy weights with compound movements is by far the most efficient way to either build muscle or preserve it while losing fat.
If you are trying to crunch and triceps extension your fat into muscle stop wasting your time. Fat loss is systemic. The body will not take fat from a given muscle you are training and turn it into muscle. You cannot spot reduce fat. Hypertrophy or growth of muscles is a systemic process that heavily involves the endocrine system. The best exercises that produce the greatest increases in muscle size are squats and deadlifts.
Are you spending excessive amounts of time running on a hamster wheel so you don’t get bulky from the other side of the gym? If your concern is that you may turn into the hulk and rip through your clothes spontaneously after picking up a few weights let me assure you there is a 0% chance of that happening. Women do not have enough testosterone to build giant muscles and men won’t get bulky without a diet to match long hours at the gym. Testosterone is an important hormone for both men and women and this is increased through resistance training. Decreases in testosterone that come with age correlate with a loss of bone density and an increase in fat. I think we can all agree those aren’t the results anyone desires. By adding 3-4 pounds of muscle to your body you can increase your daily energy expenditure by 200-300 calories.
In combination with diet, cardiovascular exercise and resistance training using systematic planning and periodization will change body composition for anyone. Talk to one of our trainers about how you might be about to get the desired body composition change you are looking for.
By: John Kecman, Personal Training and Fitness Director
Everyone knows how to put one foot in front of the other repetitively, or sit on a stationary bike and pedal. Unless we are talking about high level runners both of the aforementioned aerobic exercises are as simple as I just described. However, no matter your fitness or health goal, strength training is a far more efficient use of your time. I am not saying that walking, running, or using a recumbent bike is useless. These activities will help you expend some energy and improve aerobic capacity, barring that you are progressively working harder across weeks and months. Much is the same with strength training, and if you have the time, and enjoy both your aerobic, and strength workouts, then by all means keep up the good work with both.
For most people time is short and bang for your buck strength training will help you burn calories while you do nothing. Yes you read that correctly, and exercise research backs me up on this. Moreover, there are cardiovascular benefits acquired through strength training as it is a form of interval training. A recent study found that weightlifting had a greater impact on reductions in bodyweight, decrease in blood pressure and fewer incidences of diabetes. The same strength related improvements are also much harder (or impossible) to come by via aerobic exercise. So whether your goal is to lose weight, build muscle or strength, “tone” (not really a thing, but I won’t get into that), improve bone density, help with achy or arthritic joints, improve heart health, any other thing you can think of, resistance training is a better use of your time. If you build 2 or 3 lbs. of muscle you would burn as many calories as a 30-minute aerobic session each day doing nothing. Studies also definitively show that both body weight and body composition are improved more through weightlifting than any cardio workout.
The problem most people have is they have no idea what to do when they cross into the resistance side of the gym. It can be far more complicated than putting one foot in front of the other (walking or running). It also takes time to build muscle and most who start on their own, or even with a trainer, may not see the result they are looking for and become discouraged. It takes between two and eight weeks of consistent and progressive work to build enough muscle to create the physiological improvements I described. Age, gender, and various other factors play a part. You never lose the ability to improve, and if you aren’t where you would like to be, even if you think you know what you are doing, talk to one of our trainers and see how we can help. If you like to work with other people tryout one of our group classes in our new Personal Training Studio. If you have a plumbing issue you call a plumber, if you have an issue with your health or fitness, then we are here to help!