Friday, January 22, 2016

If You Want to Look Fit and Firm, You Have to Lift Weights

This is that time of the year in which gyms swell to fill their capacity as people sign-up in record numbers in hopes of losing weight and getting fit.  There's a wait to get on any piece of cardio equipment while the weight lifting area is almost empty.  I'm always amazed at the significant amount of time people send in the cardio area, and the little time they spend lifting weights.

While cardiovascular exercise is an important part of any exercise program, strength training should be your the foundation of your fitness routine as you age.  Strength training is the most effective activity you can do to build and maintain your muscle mass.  Muscle is that active component of your body that burns the most calories and keeps you looking lean and fit no matter your age.

Muscle is the engine that keeps your metabolism running high.  Unfortunately, as a part of the aging process you naturally start to lose muscle mass around the age of 40.  That's the age when people come to me and say something like this; "I'm starting to get his spare tire around my waist, or I've got these saddle bags on my hips that I can't get rid of.  I'm not eating anymore than I normally do, what's happening to my body?"

Well, what's happening to your body is you are starting to lose muscle mass and your ability to burn all those calories you are consuming.  In other words, the engine in your car is shrinking.  Starting in your 40s you can naturally lose a pound to a pound and a half of muscle each year and that process accelerates with age if left unabated.  Now follow this; each pound of muscle burns approximately 6 calories daily at rest and more when you exercise.  So, each year you decrease your calorie burning capability by (6 x 1.5 lb x 365 days in a year), 3,285 calories. Now, there's approximately 3500 calories in one pound of fat so, if you neglect to decrease your caloric intake accordingly, you get fatter by approximately one pound each year.

The above scenario is pretty depressing huh?  However, the good news is you can avoid this path by building and maintaining  your muscle mass, and the most effective way to do this is through regular strength training. And equally as exciting is it's never too late to start building muscle and increasing your metabolism.  Studies have shown that people in their 90s can still build muscle.

Basically strength training is doing exercises that adds resistance to your body weight such as weight lifting.  A good strength training program should be performed 2 to 3 times each week in which all the major muscle groups are exercised. I suggest you get with a certified fitness professional and let them design a strength training program for you.

If you are ready to start your strength training program right away, download my weight lifting routines (beginners through advanced) by following this link: Forever Fit and Firm.