Don’t Stop Resistance Training!
There I was, sitting outside at a local Starbucks, typing away on my laptop to connect you. Ahhh. Nice. Yep. The weather was beautiful. 75 degrees, to be exact, and a nice breeze make sitting there in the shade just a tad cool. Loved it!
I spent that morning at the hospital with my hubby for his pre-op appointment. Yeah, I know. Poor thing! He has now had back surgery (as of this past Monday). Can I tell you he was NOT excited? Hard to believe, I know. All kidding aside, any time we have the time to think about something coming up that isn't pleasant (I mean the results will be but...), we can stress. Anxiety can take it's toll, so staying busy and positive is important.
Well, here I am! Ms. Positivity! It's not that, it's just that I always look at life through a Glass Half-Full Perspective. But you already knew that.
"This time next week, it will be over."
"Just think, you won't be dealing with this pain anymore."
"I'll sit by your bedside, Darling."
I know. He loves is. LOL
Well, if you already knew this, and you kept him in your thoughts and prayers, we really appreciate it! Let's just say, he's crossed that bridge, and rapidly approaching the next.
Once the cooler weather rolls in, you may be tempted to forego your resistance training and head outdoors for some good ol’ fashion aerobic exercise in the fresh air. Ahhh. Is that it? You bet not. In fact, let me caution you: If you give up your resistance training, even for a short period of time, you will be giving up more than you bargained for. Let me shed some light here.
Why resistance train?
Resistance training is critical for true overall fitness. Without it, your muscles will atrophy. Simple. I mean, really, if you aren’t building muscle, you are probably losing it.
And if you are 20 or older, (are you raising your hand?) you are definitely losing muscle, unless you are working hard to build it consistently. Sad to say that beginning at age 20-25, we begin naturally losing muscle mass every decade. And if we don't consciously use it...we lose even more!
Have you ever broken your arm or leg and had to wear a cast for a few weeks? Even wearing a boot or wrist brace for a long period of time, remember what you saw when they were finally removed? Your arm or leg was a lot smaller and no doubt felt weak. That's because even a few weeks of disuse caused the muscles to begin to atrophy.
Here are some of the benefits of resistance training:
- Stops muscle loss and helps begin the rebuilding and/or maintenance process.
- Makes daily activities easier, from carrying groceries to rearranging your furniture.
- Gives you a strong look.
- Increases bone density, giving you a strong, stable skeleton.
- Improves balance and coordination.
- Prevents decay of the pads between your bones, so that you do not hurt when you move.
- Causes the tendons to grow deeper into your bones, reducing the chance of tearing.
- Builds muscles which will burn more calories, even while you are resting.
- Reduces blood pressure by making your heart stronger.
- Increases your metabolism.
- Decreases blood sugar, which helps prevent insulin resistance (the precursor to diabetes).
- Improves your aerobic capacity: the stronger your muscles, the better your endurance.
- Gives you a general feeling of wellness and strength. If you are strong, you feel strong.
- Makes you a better athlete: there is no substitute for strength!
- Prevents the weak, frail “skinny-fat” look.
- Raises your energy level. The more muscle you have, the less effort you have to exert and the more energy you have available.
- Secures future protection against falls and fractures. If you age with dense bones, strong muscles and good balance, your risk of injury plummets.
- Creates 22% more afterburn than aerobic exercise does. (Afterburn refers to the fat and calories that your body burns in the hours after you have finished your workout.)
Still tempted to give up resistance training?
Why aerobic exercise is not enough
“But,” you may ask, “Can’t I just go for a run or walk and build muscle? I’m using muscles when I do either of those!”
The answer is, "Uh...NO!" (To be blunt.) Running or other traditional aerobic exercise is not a replacement for resistance training. Sorry. They are different exercises and additionally provide different benefits. Aerobic exercise does not deliver the needed stress to your bones, muscles, and tendons all over your body.
In order to build strength, you have to pull hard on tendons, do microscopic damage to your muscles (yep), and literally move all of your joints. I know it sounds painful, but it isn’t. Going out for a run or putting in an hour on the treadmill will not do this sufficiently, efficiently, or effectively.
This is not to say that aerobic exercise is not important. It is! But it is not resistance training. You need both. And if you omit one, you do your body a great disservice.
Side note: You can do strength training that elevates your heart rate, and conditions your heart and lungs. Ask me how!
Avoid the “skinny fat” syndrome
Another danger of focusing primarily on traditional cardio or aerobic exercise, to the (near) exclusion of resistance training, is becoming what is known as “skinny fat.” Skinny fat is a real condition in which a person appears thin on the outside, but inside they have a higher level of bodyfat, can be unhealthy and at risk for illness.
If you are losing weight through diet and exercise but not simultaneously doing resistance training, trust me, you are not losing fat efficiently or long-term. You are losing muscle as well. While not in the same way, your body will burn through your muscle tissue the same as it will burn through your fat tissue. As you lose muscle, you lose a major source of energy, and you lose that strong, healthy look.
Did you know that as you lose muscle, your bones become weak because they don’t have to do as much work? Weak bones are a precursor to osteoporosis. This is another disease that people don’t think about. It’s silent, but can be debilitating.
Hidden fat is also a risk for the “skinny fat” person. When 800 slim people underwent an MRI scan to check for visceral or hidden fat, 45% were found to have excessive amounts of internal fat, undetectable from the outside.1 Why is that important? Visceral fat is the most dangerous fat to have, because it accumulates around organs such as the pancreas, heart, and liver, and then begins releasing hormones and other secretions that lead to disease.
Resistance training can reduce visceral fat and help prevent the additional formation around the organs. Tah-dah!
Personal Story (two actually)
Years ago, I was asked to be on a panel of judges for a swimsuit calendar. Don’t laugh! Initially, I was asked to be one of the models! Okay…stop laughing.
Anyway, when I turned that down, they asked if I would be one of the judges. I ended up landing a contract to travel with the winning models to Florida for their photo shoot. I was there to give them exercises to do before their shoot, and to coach them during the shoot itself.
Afterward, two of the models hired me to train them. They wanted to do more in their modeling careers, and wanted to look…healthier. It was nice to shift away from weight loss for a while, and focus more on building a strong person. They realized that thin and cute wasn’t necessarily healthy and strong. What a light bulb moment for them!
Another I'd like to share is around a case study I did a few years ago. I wanted to "prove" the importance of strength training for weight loss. A client of mine that was stuck on dieting decided to....listen to me. Imagine that? I refused to put her on a diet. I wanted her to focus on strength training and sensible eating vs hours on the exercise bike and restrictive eating.
What I can tell you is..Wowzers! Over the next 6 months, while her overall weight on the scale only decreased by 10lbs, her bodyfat level dropped from 32% to 27%! What does that mean? Only that she went from clinically obese to a healthy level of bodyfat. Woo-hoo!
And that's the type of program you do for life!
So if you aren’t doing or haven’t started resistance/strength training…There is no substitute for lifting heavy weights 2 to 3 times each week. Of course how you lift those weights is a different subject, and a very important one. But for now, let’s just say that your health is on the line.
Deni, did you know that I offer virtual training? Yep. Virtual exercise training. It’s true! Based on an extensive questionnaire, you can get daily prompts in your inbox with full instructions, videos, modifications and more! Don’t let time or distance stop you from getting solid, professional guidance and assistance. I’m your trusted source, right? Okay then. The ball is in your court!