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Making the effort to fit in a couple of walks a week is great if you’re just starting out on a new fitness regime, however if you want to take things to the next level and actually CHANGE your body shape then resistance training workouts are the next step.
Aerobic exercise (low level huff ‘n puff) strengthens your heart muscles, increases bone density, improves mental health and well-being, promotes healthy eating etc etc….. But what most of us want is weight loss, and aerobic exercise is the mothership to all weight loss efforts!
Resistance training sculpts the underlying muscles, so that when we finally reach our weight loss goals the muscles we have been working hard on toning up are unearthed and this is what gives you a defined look.
I asked David Welch, personal trainer at Fitness First Bondi Platinum to help shed some light and set some facts straight.
1. Why do I need resistance/weights training to change my body shape?
You need resistance training to help increase your lean muscle tissue. This type of training must be done using structured periodised training programs to help achieve maximum results. The results are also achieved even faster by eating well-balanced meals throughout the day. By carrying more muscle you are increasing your chances of burning more body-fat. Therefore with weights training you can help increase your lean muscle tissue throughout your entire body, hence changing the way your body shape will appear.
2. How often should I be carrying out resistance work?
For resistance training, I recommend – and have seen the best results in maintaining muscle mass and burning body fat faster – using HIIT (high intensity interval training). For experienced gym enthusiasts, 3 times per week is what I get my clients to do to get the best results.
3. Is research showing light weights/high rep or heavier weights as the best way to tone up?
The answer to this is; use both methods of training. Using light weights for high reps is known as hypertrophy training. or around the gym as body building training. Using higher reps (6-25) with a large volume of sets (12-15 per body part) helps to increase lean muscle tissue more so than using heavier weights. But you still must use heavier weights to increase your actual strength. If you can increase your strength in all lifts then this will allow you to lift an even heavier weight in your next hypertrophy program, hence even more gains.
4. What group classes can I take to help me change my body shape more effectively if intimidated by the weights room?
The group classes I would look at would be a mixture of high intensity (CYCLE, BOXING), classes that are using resistance training (BODYPUMP, KETTLEBELLS) speaking generally, I would recommend between 3-4 times per week to get the best results. This allows at least every major muscle group to be trained anywhere between 1-2 times per week, depending on how the program has been structured. I would also suggest (for the general population) to train no more than 2 days in a row with weights training.
For more sport specific training you can train as often as 5-6 times per week and sometimes even twice per day. Power lifters, Olympic lifters and body builders are most likely to use this type of resistance training format.
5. Should I work upper and lower body separately or on the same day?
Depending on what your specific goals are with your program will help answer this question. If the purpose of your program is hypertrophy (body builder training) then I would recommend only training two body-parts per workout. A volume of 12-15 sets per body part with a rep range from 6-20 reps and working in a 65-80% of your 1RM. An example of this can be training chest/back together.
Training both upper and lower on the same day can be done if split into two workouts (am/pm) or as a whole body workout in one session. I find from my experience with my clients full body weights circuits are great for weight loss, conditioning and hypertrophy gains.
My recommendation for the general population is to use all formats of resistance training to help achieve your results so long as it’s safe.
6. How should a woman differ her training to a man if her goal is not to bulk up?
The greatest fear for woman….BULKING UP!!! I can assure you that woman – and men for that manner – are more likely to get BULKIER from poor food choices/habits than from resistance training. Barring any injuries, I train my female clients exactly the same way I train my male clients. My rule is simple….YOU MUST BE FIT, YOU MUST BE STRONG, YOU MUST EAT WELL AND YOU MUST STAY COMMITTED TO GET THE BEST RESULTS YOU WANT FOR YOUR BODY.
7. What should I do if I’m still sore from the previous day’s work out?
Look at training an opposing muscle group from the previous day e.g. sore back, train your chest. Also look to stretch or foam roll that area to help relieve muscle tension, or change your type of training e.g.HIIT.
What’s New at Fitness First:
Free Outdoor Movement Training – These special Twilight BOOTCAMP events are free and open to all! Check out what’s on in your area in February and March. Check here.
Fitness First Magazine– Download it for free from the iTunes App Store here It’s jam-packed with practical training, nutrition, weight management and lifestyle information.
* Resistance training doesn’t necessarily have to be in the form of “weights” but can also come in the forms of yoga, pilates etc to an extent and the amount of resistance that is being created whilst doing so.