Summer came and went, and maybe you never got around to completing your “beach body” workout goal in the three months of sun we get to revel in each June through August. Rather than shrugging it off and pulling on a comfortable sweater (as tempting as it may sound), bear with me: you can still jumpstart an exercise routine and set new goals for yourself. Every day is the perfect day to start over and begin a new routine.
One of the most effective ways to build muscle, burn fat and improve overall energy levels is to lift weights or resistance train. In my discussions with patients throughout the day, the opinions on weight training vary. There are a lot of misconceptions about lifting weights: “You need to be in great shape to lift weights,” “I’ve never done it so it’s too late to start,” or “I don’t want to get bulky, I want to lose weight.” None of these are true! Anyone at any fitness level can begin lifting weights and seeing results, and bulk is not necessarily one of those guaranteed results. If you want to put on a lot of muscle, there are specialty diet / supplement choices that we can discuss, but I’ll save that for another post. In general, lifting weights will help sculpt your body and burn fat, plus it will ignite your metabolism.
Here are some ways to get into weight training if you’ve never touched a dumbbell before:
Start with your body weight. You don’t have to begin reaching for heavy weights right away. People often forget that our bodyweight is the #1 built-in exercise tool available to us. Start experimenting with bodyweight squats, push-ups, lunges and sit-ups. From there, pick up light weights and hold on to them when you squat and lunge, then start working in more motions using the lighter weights. Here’s a good guideline: always do 15 reps of an exercise for 3 sets. When these 3 reps of 15 become easy, add weight.
Start gradually. Begin with 2-3 sessions per week at about 20 minutes each, then add 10 minutes to each workout every week until you are working out for 40-60 minutes, 3 times per week. Then, start adding days on to your routine. Let your body get used to your new activity! You can begin increasing the weights as you go along, too, so that it is always a challenge. That is the key: make sure your body is always being challenged. Once something gets too easy, push yourself!
Work lower and upper body (alternating). To burn the most calories early on in your weight lifting routine, it’s ideal to combine upper body exercises with lower body exercises. An example of your daily workout would be:
(alternating exercises, 15 reps each, 3 sets)
Push ups + squats
Lunges + tricep dips
Sit ups + inner/outer thigh leg lifts
Shoulder press (with dumbbells) + deadlifts (dumbbells or barbell)
As you get more comfortable, you can start splitting your muscle groups to create harder, more targeted workouts throughout the week, but we will get to that later.
Listen to your body. Give yourself a rest when you need it, and push yourself when you don’t feel tired or sore. If you ever feel any pain beyond normal muscle fatigue, stop the exercise causing the pain. The saying “no pain, no gain” does not apply to sharp, debilitating pain that prevents you from continuing your workout or your day-to-day activities.
Drink lots of water. Drink water before, during and after your workout to keep your body functioning optimally. Your muscles and mind will thank you! Even on off days, always aim for drinking as much water as you can (comfortably). You will notice improvements in digestion, muscle recovery, energy levels and mental focus.
Weight training is a great addition to your current workout schedule and is the perfect place for new exercisers to start. I work with people every day to help them take the first step toward their fitness goals, and I can definitely help you do the same! If you have concerns about specific conditions, injuries or just general questions about how to start your personal fitness journey, schedule a consultation by calling 920-499-3333 or emailing me at DrChadMHoffman@gmail.com.
Best of health,