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Lose Weight with Weights!

What is the best way to lose weight? The answer: With patience, you can burn those pounds off with the proper exercise routine and the correct diet.  

One of THE best ways to lose weight is to construct a well-rounded exercise program that is based on cross-training. Doing something different every day helps eliminate the drudgery of exercise and allows one group of muscles to rest while you're pushing another group to the limit. 

Be sure to include weight training in that exercise regime. Dr. Wayne Prescott, national strength training consultant for the YMCA, has discovered weight lifting "plays a significant role in weight management and fat loss." 

Prescott worked with 282 participants whose average age was 45, old fossils like me. The group that combined endurance exercises (aerobics, swimming and running), strength exercises (weight lifting or using free weights in a "body sculpting" class), and dietary changes experienced the greatest weight and body fat loss. The differences were significant. 

For example, the group that changed their eating habits and spent 30 minutes using a stationary bicycle or doing step aerobics lost 4 pounds, experienced a fat loss of 4 pounds and experienced no muscle gain. But the group that followed the same dietary changes plus 25 minutes of endurance exercises followed by 15 minutes on Nautilus machines lost 8 pounds, experienced a fat loss of 10 pounds and gained two pounds of muscle. 

The study also discovered muscle gain is mainly dependent on strength exercise. This is an important fact for people on a weight loss program. The best way to lose weight is to burn fact, turning it into the sugars the body need for energy. 

The muscle tissue is the place where this fat burning takes places. It's the corporeal oven, if you will. The bigger the oven, the more fat it can burn. Increasing muscle mass speeds up the weight loss process by being able to burn more fat in the same time period. Besides, good muscle tone is attractive! 

Dr. Daniel Kosich, consulting senior director for professional development for IDEA, an exercise trade group, has conducted research which found strength training not only causes changes in muscle fiber, but also in the endocrine output. The endocrine glands control everything in the body, from moods to feelings to heart rate and metabolism, the physiological process of burning fat. Raising the body's basal or normal metabolic rate means the body burns the hated fat faster. 

Here's the good news: Dr. Kosich found that almost 20 percent of the increase in body strength occurred within the first four weeks of training. The results are immediate. However, the change in muscle size and weight loss occurred later. 

More good news: You only have to work out three times a week for 45 minute sessions to achieve these results! That's doable. 

Here's the bad news: The results are lost if you do not maintain the training program. We're talking commitment here. Resistance training won't work with mental resistance; it must become a lifelong habit. 

The philosophy of weight training is important to obtaining results. In weight training, the exerciser pushes himself or herself to overload. In anaerobic exercise like weight lifting, exercisers do repetitions, trying to push the muscles to 110 percent. Fatigue is the prize. 

This is the opposite of aerobic training, which stresses endurance. Exercisers strive to stay within the cardiac target zone, which is 65 to 80 percent of the maximum cardiac output. Fatigue in aerobic exercise defeats the purpose of the activity. 

I've noticed in the gym people lift weights too fast. Try to take 30 to 60 seconds to complete one repetition. Fighting gravity is very difficult and really forces the muscles to perform. I only do 12 repetitions. Trust me. One set is enough at this pace. 

If you've never used weight machines, a service trainer at your health club will be happy to show you the circuit. Circuit training allows you to work every major muscle group during a 45 minute session. Or take a step interval class, which is very popular now. These classes alternate aerobic exercise with weight training. I also like the tubes which are great for resistance training. I take a tube with me when I travel because they are a whole lot lighter than weights inside a suitcase. 

Of course, the Internet is a vast resource on all aspects of weight training. If you don't use it, you won't lose it!

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