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.
Resistance Training Know-How
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 gets the best results. This is dependent on age and fitness level. I would never expect someone to begin a fitness journey using HIIT or it will increase chances of an injury. My mother is age 80 and still working out in a gym 3-4 times a week with an adapted program for her age.
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 bodybuilding 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. Simply using bodyweight in exercises matched with weights under 7kg gives you amazing results (what I personally do).
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 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. Powerlifters, Olympic lifters and bodybuilders 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. I prefer not to separate the body as such and train it as a whole. I find from my experience a 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, a female should train the same way as a male. I mean sure, we can’t lift as much weight but there are no gender differences in staying fit. It’s quite simple….Stay FIT, stay STRONG, eat WELL and stay COMMITTED to health and longevity. You the more time passes on, it makes it harder to undo the past.
7. What should I do if I’m still sore from the previous day’s work out?
Look at swapping up your training with cross-training, a pilates class or yoga workout – an outdoor activity is even better. Also, look to stretch mindfully through awareness and flow through the body. Or simply have a day off – exercise, dependent on the way it is performed, is a stress on the body and we need to treat it as such. Rest, recover and reconnect with the mind.