November 14, 2016
By Shawn Alexander
Whether you believe it or not, lean muscle naturally diminishes as we age, and if ever a statement was true, “use it or lose it” should be ringing in your ears if you are over 40. I can attest to this as I have been training people for over thirty years , mostly in the same facility which has allowed me to witness dramatic changes in scores of people over the years.
Science has already proven that resistance training is important for overall health, especially as we age. If you are interested in data and statistics, that’s an easy topic to google which will pull up literally thousands of research studies and articles. What I’m about to tell you comes from MY years of experience and not a study which for some people might be more practical advice.
First off, training properly with weights and resistance exercises can improve many facets of your life, starting with the way your body looks, how it feels, and even your mood. I have helped people overcome depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, insomnia, weight issues, diabetes and a long list of other health issues introducing weight training into their lives. Another thing I’ve noticed over the years in my facility is that people who use weights in their fitness program are more consistent with their workouts and seem to have a higher level of satisfaction when it’s all said and done.
In general, people who live a healthy lifestyle and exercise regularly seem to age slower than people who don’t. Being in the gym most of my life I’ve grown accustomed to being surrounded by healthy, happy people. Sometimes it’s a shock to me when I’m out in the “real world” to see how unhealthy much of our population is, especially with all the resources available to live a healthy lifestyle. These days you can see a fitness center or gym on almost every corner. So, with this being said, maybe it’s time to think about making the most of your fitness routine and including some weights along with the treadmill and your yoga classes. I promise, you will be happy that you did.
If you don’t presently use weights in your fitness routine and you are considering it, here are a few tips that may help you get started.
1. If you have never lifted weights before, a trainer can be very helpful in making sure that you are using the proper form to avoid injury. Another great source is , believe it or not, YouTube. Trainers worldwide post videos that can be very helpful with almost any kind of exercises and I have found it to be very helpful for many people.
2. If you prefer doing cardiovascular work when you are in the gym, you can easily insert various weight exercises into your workout by simply stopping the machine you are on and heading to the weights for one or two sets and then it’s back to the cardio. This is a great way to get fit really fast.
3. A big misconception is that you need to lift weights several times a week to benefit from them, which is not true. Twice a week will work great if you have a balanced workout .
4. Two to three sets with eight to ten repetitions is a great way to start. As your body becomes adjusted to the resistance, you can slowly increase the poundages you are lifting, as long as you are not compromising your form
5. Don’t forget to let your body recover from your weight workouts. Basically this means, don’t lift every day, especially as you get stronger. Lots of people get excited when they start seeing changes in their bodies so they start lifting more and more. More is not better. Your muscles need to rest and recover for at least two to three days after a hard workout with weights.
6. Sometimes it helps to have a workout partner who can spot you and help push you just a little harder than you would otherwise do. It also helps to know that someone is waiting for you at the gym to make it harder for you to just go home and crash on the couch after work.
7. Last but not least, make sure to pay extra attention to your nutrition after you have begun adding weights to your fitness program. We truly are what we eat and if your body doesn’t have the proper nutrition to recover from your workouts, you won’t be able to enjoy optimal health and wellness.
My name is Shawn Alexander and I am a trainer at Physiofit in Dallas. I am excited to be contributing to the Living Well newsletter and welcome any questions you may have in regards to fitness and exercise. I can be reached at 972-839-1323.