How many of you go to the gym and run/cycle/swim, shower and then leave? I would hasten a bet that most of you primarily do cardio. That’s great. No problem with cardio – it will improve your fitness which will reduce risks for cardiovascular disease and mortality. Yet, weight training should be an integral component of your workout routine. Why? It’s good for your muscle strength and endurance, bones, and metabolism.
I never used to weight train. I used the elliptical for 20 minutes or ran outside and called it a day. I was afraid of the weight room, the machines, the grunts. Then I went to the gym with a friend who used weights, regularly. So I started using free-weights, venturing into unknown territory. After a few months of doing very basic weight training (bicep curls, crunches, squats, lunges) I started to notice a definite change in my body. I had a lot more lean muscle, and my weight became a lot more stable.
Increasing lean muscle mass will increases resting metabolic rate (RMR). RMR is determined by a number of variables – height, weight, sex, genetics. In short, it’s the number of calories you need a day to function. Women are typically around 1200-1500 kcals/day while men are around 2000-2200 kcals/day. The greater your muscle mass, the greater your RMR. So not only will you feel/look better but you will also increase your resting metabolism.
If you are nervous about free-weights or using the machines there are a number of things you can do. First, if you go to a gym ask for a free weight machine tour/explanation. This should be an included service – if they ask for money then ask a friend. If you are so inclined, you can sign up for a few personal training sessions to get a feel for weights and how to properly use them. I cannot stress how important form and safety is. However, having a personal trainer does not necessarily mean you’re safe. Ask about their credentials –some gyms such as Goodlife employee personal trainers not yet certified. The best certification a trainer can have is through the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology. This certification requires that the trainer have education in kinesiology and health. Can-Fit-Pro, while well-known does not require trainers to have any education in kinesiology/health/etc. So anyone (your granny, for example) could become a certified personal trainer through this institution. Lastly, ask a friend who you trust for some instruction. While gym classes are good places to learn new ideas and routines there isn’t a strong focus on adequate form, so I would encourage you to attend those after learning the basics.
Be brave and ask for help. Weight training does not need to be intense to be beneficial.
Safe and happy lifting.