No Pain, Your Gain
The word is out. Muscle burns approximately 50 calories an hour at rest; fat burns two calories. Along with improving your appearance, weight training is great for your health. As a result, more people are pumping iron. There are also a large number of reported injuries–more than 1 million over the last two decades, according to researchers at Tufts University.
If people are getting hurt, is weight training really good for you? Yes, if done properly. Learning proper weight training techniques can maximize benefits and minimize injuries.
Weight Training Perks
According to the American Heart Association, weight training can help modify blood pressure, cholesterol, blood pressure and body fat levels and glucose metabolism. After age 30, sedentary people lose 10% of their lean muscle mass each decade, say experts at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Even though people may stay the same weight, lost muscle is replaced with fat. Weight training is recommended to help adults retain muscle mass. Because weight lifting is a resistance exercise, it also can help increase bone density and avoid osteoporosis.
Function Follows Form
Weight training must be done properly to avoid injury and to reap its rewards. Correct technique includes a warm-up, the appropriate weight, proper form and focus.
Warm-up. Cold muscles are more prone to injury. Therefore, five or 10 minutes of an aerobic exercise is wise. You may want to hop on an exercise bike, jump rope, walk or jog before you begin your weight-training session.
Proper Weight. Trying to lift weights that are too heavy can strain or tear muscles and put you out of action. Begin with a weight that you can lift eight to 12 times (repetitions) using proper form. Increase weights gradually when you can go through three sets of eight to 12 repetitions easily. If you want to build muscle more quickly, you can use weights that fatigue a muscle group in 12 repetitions, but make sure to use proper form.
Proper form. Form is everything when it comes to weight training. It’s important to know which muscle group you’re working when doing an exercise. Concentrate on isolating the muscle group and moving the weight slowly through a full range of motion. Don’t forget to breathe, exhaling on the exertion. You may want to consult a fitness trainer to help you get started.
Focus. Inattention while working out may result in injury, or at least an ineffective exercise session. Focus on what you are doing and your time will be well spent.
If you’re a weight-training novice, you may want to consult a trainer or attend training classes held at a local health club. In addition, the following are some weight-training videos and books that can help you understand how to identify and isolate muscle groups so you can train to get the maximum benefit.
A Final Word
As with any exercise program, you should consult your doctor before you proceed. Some people should not embark on a weight-training program including those with uncontrolled high blood pressure or unstable angina among others. The more information you have about your physical condition before you begin exercising, the more likely you will choose a training program that works for you.