Making the effort to fit in a couple of walks each week is great if you’re just starting on a new fitness regime, however, if you wish to take things to the next level and change your body shape then resistance training workouts are the holy grail.
Aerobic exercise (low-level huff ‘n puff) strengthens your heart, increases bone density, improves mental health and well-being, promotes healthy eating etc. Ultimately though, what most people chase is body fat reduction, with aerobic exercise being the mothership to weight loss efforts.
Resistance training comes into its own by sculpting underlying muscles so when a fat loss goal is achieved, the hard-worked muscles are unearthed (and this is what lends a defined look). Increasing our lean muscle tissue throughout the body, means we increase the chances of burning more body-fat, even while resting. Keep in mind though that resistance training is most effective when consistently following a specific program with results being achieved even faster by eating well-balanced meals throughout the day.
For resistance training, studies have shown the best results in maintaining muscle mass and burning body fat faster is by using HIIT (high-intensity interval training). For experienced gym enthusiasts, 3 times per week see the best results, keeping in mind this is dependent on age and fitness level. If you are not a member of a gym, turn to the digital world and discover programs (many are free!) which you can complete at home through YouTube or one of many apps. If you are just starting out on your fitness journey, I would suggest building your fitness and strength foundation before using HIIT to minimise the chance of injury due to incorrect technique. Age does not discriminate with my mother at age 80 still working out in a gym 3-4 times a week with an adapted program (and staying social).
There is always a lot of confusion about whether to use light or heavy weights. Using light weights with high reps is known as hypertrophy training and this type of overload training increases lean muscle tissue more so than using heavier weights. If your goal is to increase strength, then heavier weights prevail. For toning, simply using bodyweight in functional exercises matched with weights under 7kg gives you amazing results without even stepping in a gym. Group classes are also beneficial for developing strength, using a mixture of high intensity and endurance (CYCLE, BOXING). Between 3-4 times per week will see the best results,
The greatest fear for a woman is bulking up. I can assure you that women – and men for that matter, are more likely to get bulkier from poor food choices/habits than from resistance training. Barring any injuries, be assured it’s ok for females to train in the same manner as males – sure, we can’t lift as much weight but there are no gender differences in staying fit.
Recovery is important so look to swapping up your resistance training with cross-training. Try a Pilates class or yoga workout – and aim to stretch mindfully through awareness while maintaining flow throughout the body. Or simply have a day off as 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.
Staying fit, strong, eating well and stay committed to health and longevity are simple rules to live by for a high-quality life