Weight loss can be up to 30% muscle loss! Muscle makes up a big portion of our metabolism level so metabolism can take a big drop when we lose weight. Strength training counteracts this metabolism lowering effect of weight loss. However, there are several myths that get in the way of making strength training part of a weight loss plan. Here are the reasons I hear most often:
I don’t need to do strength training, I get enough in everyday life: Moving in daily life is important for health but is probably not enough to counteract the muscle loss with dieting. Muscles are made up of many muscle fibers. The muscle fibers we use, add to our metabolism. The ones we don’t use, go into a hibernation and don’t add much to metabolism. Most daily movements don’t fatigue muscles fully, leaving some muscle fibers still “asleep”. Strength training helps wake up muscle fibers and keeps them awake, burning more calories for the next 24-48 hours!
I don’t have time for strength training: Doing just one set of basic strength training exercises, working the muscles to fatigue, 2-3 times a week has been shown to be effective. When you remove all the myth based exercises that just waste time, it really takes about 2-3 sessions a week of about 15-30 minutes.
I don’t have equipment/gym membership: Dumbbells are one of the best investments in fitness equipment. They last a long time and they are all you need for a complete strength training program. Check out yard sales and thrift shops for low cost options. Want a free option? Soup cans or detergent bottles filled with water are great substitutes!
I have back pain: Strength training, done in a way that teaches the core muscles to protect the back during movements of daily life, can decrease back pain. The key is starting light, listening to your body and paying close attention to using proper form before increasing the amount you are lifting.
I just want to work ____ part of my body: When we work on “target areas” we are doing a program based on the myth of that we can burn more fat in certain areas of the body by exercising that part. (AKA “spot reducing). Avoid wasting time on this myth based approach to exercise. Instead focus on using all of your muscles so metabolism increases and helps your body burn fat all over.
I am concerned I will get hurt: One surefire way to get injured with exercise is to do too much, too soon. Listen to your body. Be smart when adding a new exercise or increasing the resistance. Exercise is very safe when we work with our body, rather than trying to push the limits to fast.
I want to lose weight first and then build muscle: It is much easier to maintain muscle than regain it after it is lost. Plus, losing muscle means lower metabolism putting weight loss success at risk.
I don’t want to bulk up: It is nearly impossible to build a lot of build muscle while losing weight. It also takes more time and energy than most of us have to devote to exercise in order to “bulk up”. If you have the genetics to tend to “bulk up” with strength training, keep the sets and repetitions moderate (1-2 sets of 8-12 repetitions) still working to muscle fatigue.
I don’t want to gain weight: Muscle tissues is more dense than fat, so the myth that is weighs more has some truth. BUT it burns more calories. Studies show in a good quality three month strength training program participants gained only about three pounds of muscle, but that did not show up on the scale because they lost fat at the same time.
I don’t want to be in more pain: It is a myth that muscle soreness is needed to build muscle strength. Strength training should not leave you in pain. If you have arthritis pain, use a slow gradual progression but don’t avoid strength training. It has been shown to reduce arthritis pain.
Keep Strength Training and Be Well,
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These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.