Tag Archives: Strength Training

Boost Weight Loss Success

weightWhat does the number on the scale represent?

Everything that makes up body weight- fat, water, lean tissue(muscle) bone, etc.

Here is an important fact about weight loss (on the scale) to know.

About 30% of weight loss is muscle when a person does not do strength training!

So losing 100lbs on the scale could be the loss of 30 lbs of muscle!

The scale only shows that the goal weight was achieved, not what was lost.

Is this successful weight loss?
If the scale is your only goal then yes.
But your goal, I am guessing, goes beyond the scale.

Being able to do more. Being able to keep the weight of long term. Those are important goals I hear all the time.

The muscle loss means:

  • a lower metabolism
  • easier weight re-gain
  • lower strength
  • reduced balance
  • lower bone strength

It would be easy to attribute these changes to just getting older or genetics.  Reality is, when muscle is lost, the body changes. You could say it ages faster.

stMuscle loss is invisible, but not inevitable.

The good news is that the equipment the body needs to regain strength, metabolism bone and balance is still there. The muscle fibers are still there, they just need to be re-activated.

Cardio exercise such as walking, running, elliptical, swimming etc. do not re-activate the muscle fibers anywhere near as well as strength training.
Give yourself the best chance for success with weight loss with these three “not-so-time consuming” steps:

  1. Adopt a strength training routine with
    1. 2-3 non-consecutive days a week (ie: every other day)
    2. 1-3 sets of a group of exercises that challenges all the major muscle groups
    3. 8-12 repetitions to fatigue. The fatigue part is important. If you can do more than 15 repetitions it is time to up the weights.
  2. Time a snack with protein right before or right after your strength session. Studies show this will improve fat loss and muscle gain. The details of how much protein used in the studies are a bit complicated for this article. Generally adding 10-20 grams of protein beforemilk or after strength training seem to make the difference. One study found simple glass of milk was effective (8 grams of protein).
  3. Stick with strength training for life! Because we tend to lose muscle with aging, even after you reach your goal weight, strength training can insure your strength, metabolism, bone density and balance stay strong.

Keep in mind one set of strength training exercises to fatigue two days a week will do it – it is about quality not quantity. So if time is a barrier, a little investment in time can go a long way.

I cannot stress this enough.

These are three easy steps to boost your weight loss success in as little as one hour a week!

And please, please do not let the myth of muscle gain get in the way. It takes a lot of work to gain muscle that will show up on the scale. A lot of time that most of us do not have. With all that is working against muscle (weight loss, aging,  menopause, etc) too much muscle is not a worry for most of us. If you do feel you have too much muscle, cut back to the minimum level of 1-2 sets two days a week to fatigue. But don’t give up all together on this metabolism saving exercise.

If you are a Weight Center patient and are not following these three steps, email me for more information on how to get on a program.

Keep Moving, Be Well,


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.


by | November 12, 2015 · 6:42 pm

Mindful Eating Summit + Another reason to do strength training

Here is another great free online resource coming up.  The Mindful Eating Summit is a five-day, 20 speaker online event.  It looks like a great way to learn about how habits and emotions affect the way we eat and tools for eating healthy.

And here is a nice article about research on strength training and  brain health!  I have one caution – please do not do the exercise like they are showing in the picture – elbows above the shoulder increases the risk of shoulder injury. Only raise the elbows to just below shoulder height.  Otherwise enjoy the article.

Keep Moving, Be Well,


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.


Leave a comment

by | October 22, 2015 · 8:13 pm

How to Be A Savvy Fitness Consumer

While scanning Facebook one day, an advertisement for an app popped up with a picture of a woman doing dips. (A dip dipsis shown in the picture on the right.) I honestly first thought it was an article on exercises to avoid.

The ad stated “this app has gone viral in days.” Curiosity got the best of me, so I opened it.   It stated the “research backed program has become an international hit” and was  “published in the leading research journal ACSM, and then popularized by the New York Times,”   “equivalent of working out for over an hour – for only slightly longer than 7 minutes,”  “the exercises are simple to perform, do not require any equipment, and therefore, can be done anywhere! NO MORE EXCUSES.” This was a  “research-proven workout.”

This is brilliant marketing for sure – kudos to the designers.  They used all the right tools to sell their product: Continue reading


by | April 20, 2015 · 3:31 pm

Strength Training – The Big Picture


Patient Tip of the Week:  Broad Meadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuary in Worcester has many great outdoor programs in this beautiful setting right in the city.  A patient just told me she did the Snowshoeing for Families program this past weekend (luckily it was not cancelled due to snow). There are several more dates available this winter and plenty of snow to enjoy!  See the brochure for this and other programs. 

I am going to try to keep this concise.  There are SO many ways we miss the “forest for the trees” in strength training – so it may be difficult to fit it all in one blog. 

The  myths that just wont die… muscle weighs more than fat, I need to lose weight and then tone, I don’t want get big bulky muscles.. yada, yada, yada – all of these myths and more keep folks from holding onto their strength, balance, posture, support for joints and metabolism while losing weight and/or aging.   Big Picture…..Do not be afraid of strength training!!!!   Muscle is your BEST FRIEND when you are aging and losing weight.   Especially women, but we all are  at risk for losing muscle, strength, and metabolism with aging and with weight loss.   If you have had weight loss surgery, you are at a much higher risk of losing muscle because of the rapid weight loss.  Eating protein alone will not hold onto the muscle.  Keep it awake – strength train!!

thCAY06ENZThe numbers game of how much weight should I lift?  how many reps, sets, days?  Competing for who can lift more weight.  Really, our muscles do not know numbers!  They only know if they are challenged or not.  Not challenged and they atrophy – which means they basically hibernate.  When we say “lose muscle” – the muscle fibers are still there – they just shut down like a bear in hibernation.  Each muscle contains a whole bunch of muscle fibers.  The ones you use stay awake and help you stay strong, keep metabolism up, support the joints they are attached to and stimulate bone growth.    So, if you do light weights for toning, not bulking – you are only using a small portion of muscle fibers – the others go into hibernation.  Lift the amount of weight that allows you to keep proper form and causes muscle fatige in about 8-15 repetitions.  Do this consistently and you will help to keep those muscles, and your metabolism from going into hibernation. 

Challenge all of the muscles – not just the doing a bunch of bench press for the chest muscles or  crunches the front core muscles.  All of them – upper back, lower back, small muscles in the shoulder, etc.  

Doing exercises to exercise better versus function better – I blogged on this a few weeks ago.  In strength training the goal is to be able to lift things easier, push doors open without a problem, shovel snow without back pain and shoulder pain, carry laundry up the stairs easily… not just to do more push ups and plank longer (unless that is your true goal).   So your exercises should mimic every day life movements with proper alignment/form and using the right muscles.  I will expand more of this in future blogs.  For now just ask yourself why am I doing this exercise?

thCA8KGJ1WProgram design – if you are going to be a body builder than do a body builder program. If not, do a program that is designed for your lifestyle – the movements you want to be stronger for.  Similar to choosing the exercises that fit your goal, the program type should fit your goal too.  Many people are doing a body building program because that is what their friend or trainer told them to do, but it is not designed for weight loss or function.   So ask, what is this program designed for? 

The basic recommendation is   8-15 repetition of exercises working all the major muscle groups.  When just starting a program,  choose a very light weight/resistance and give yourself about two weeks to gradually work up to a weight that fatigues the muscles by the last repetition.  Each exercise should be done for  1-3 sets  on 2-3 non-consecutive days a week (ie every other day) to  help you build strength and metabolism.   With the sets, take 2-3 minutes rest for that muscle between the sets.  That does not mean you have to sit around.  Do another muscle group while you wait.  For example, alternate doing exercises for upper body and lower body.    These are general guidelines. If you have questions specific to you, please feel free to email me. 

Please don’t miss out on the benefits of strength training because of myths or a program that consumes too much of your time.  Strength thCAI089PQtraining can be one of the easiest yet most powerful ways to keep yourself moving with aging and keep your weight where you want it to be.  When I see weight loss patients who are losing weight and not doing strength training I believe I cannot emphasize this enough!  The scale does not tell you if you lost muscle.  If you are not using those muscle fibers and are losing weight you could very well be sending them, and your metabolism, into hibernation. 

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Keep Moving, Be Well






by | January 26, 2015 · 5:40 pm

Muscle Mass Predicts Longevity in Older Adults

A patient told me this week – “even if you just send an quick email just to tell us to get off our glueteus maximus – that will work”   I am glad the emails are helpful for some of you.

 I am back on track now…. Thank you for your patience!

 A patient sent me an article today from the American Journal of Medicine- Muscle Mass Predicts Longevity in Older Adults.

Great timing as today’s email is about how exercise – specifically strength training – gives the muscles what they need. Last email we focused on cardiovascular exercise. Strength training gives the muscles something else they need, that cardiovascular exercise does not.

 It turns out that Body Mass Index (BMI) according to this study – does not tell if someone is going to live longer after age 55 for men and 65 for women – but the amount of muscle a person has does make a big difference! The more muscle you have the lower your risk of dying from any cause.

 BMI does not tell about how much muscle and fat is in the body – only body weight for height. And it is not easy to tell if we have lost muscle. The scale does not tell us that we lost or gained muscle.

 How do we know if we have lost muscle – we are weaker, metabolism seems slower, we seemed to get injured easily, daily tasks are more tiring, posture is worse, knees and back hurt more, bones fracture easier – all signs of muscle loss.   Signs of muscle gain are the opposite.

 Thing is that the muscles NEED to be used.   After age 40 – we need to work a bit harder to keep our muscle. They REALLY NEED to be used on a regular basis. And doing cardiovascular exercise does not do it well enough.

 If you want to age well, stay independent, do all kinds of great things in retirement, keep your weight off you are counting on your muscles to be there when you need them.

 Use it or lose it definitely applies here! Big time!

 Strength training – challenging every muscle fiber you can on a regular basis gives the muscles what they need so they are there for you.

 The Prescription: 8-12 repetitions, 1-3 sets of exercises for all major muscle groups 2-3 days a week (not two days in a row) ie: every other day

 So the next time you are doing strength training (like… today? Or tomorrow?) –as you challenge your muscles – think of it as simply giving the muscles what they need.

 Give them what they need – you get what you want.

 It really is that simple.

 Keep Moving, Be Well,


Leave a comment

by | August 24, 2014 · 7:54 pm