How To: Resistance Training

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In this post, we answer the most frequently asked questions we get about resistance training(RT).

Q:  Why do I need RT?
A:  RT will help to make you stronger, leaner, and healthier.

Q:  Won’t cardio exercise make me stronger, leaner and          healthier too?
A: Cardio most likely will not make you stronger, it might even make you weaker.  You will improve your health from a “cardio only” routine but not necessarily become leaner.  Getting leaner is the result of many factors, building muscle being one of the most important.

Q: Will RT make me big, bulky and masculine (asked by females)?
A:  No it will not, mostly because of females’ lack of adequate amounts of testosterone.  In addition, you would need a much higher volume of  training and calories to pack on too much muscle.  Women who get bigger during RT probably eat way too much and they are bigger because they gained fat.  Eating at or below your maintenance level of calories, is the best way to make sure you don’t get big and bulky.
Q: What is the difference between resistance training and weight training?
A:  We use the terms interchangeably as resistance can come from many sources, including free weights, kettlebells, machines, rubber bands, medicine balls and especially your own body weight.

Q:  Are machines better than other forms of resistance?
A:  It’s not a “cut and dry” answer, but in our opinion, most machines take a back seat to dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells and body weight exercises.  Most typical health club machines will require you to sit.  This will not get your core and stabilizer muscles much work at all.
For example; a pushup will require your core to engage throughout the movement to keep your body in proper alignment, whereas a seated machine chest press (where you are leaning against the back of the seat) will render those muscles relatively inactive.

Q:  How often should I do RT?
A:  It depends on your goals, but a general rule would be 1 time per week to maintain strength and muscle, 2 times per week to build and 3 or more for even better results.
More important is the program you are following.  A bad program done 4 x per week is not as good as a program put together by an expert done 1-2 x per week.

Q:  I’ve heard light weights and high reps are better for fat loss.  Is that true?
A:  It is not true at all.  The best strategy for fat loss is to incorporate a program which will cycle light, medium and heavy weights over time.  If you always lift light weight (a weight you can handle more than 15 times), you will stop progressing quickly.  
An example of resistance training for fat loss could be:

  • Month 1, sets of 15 Reps
  • Month 2, sets of 10 Reps
  • Month 3, sets of 12 Reps
  • Month 4, sets of 8 Reps

Even if you did the same exercises, but changed the reps AND the resistance, you will see better results than if you always did the same reps and resistance.

Q: Is RT appropriate or safe for older adults?
A: Age is not the determining factor in deciding who RT is right for.   We have clients in their 80’s who are thriving with RT.  They are stronger, leaner, healthier, and more mobile because of it. 

Anyone can participate as long as the movements are appropriate for the individual and the program is written to conform to goals and ability.

Q: Do I need RT for my legs if I’m running and using the elliptical trainer?
A:  These types of cardio activities will build endurance in your legs and hips, and may yield some small strength or muscle gains, but they cannot compare to squats, lunges, step ups, deadlifts and other leg based RT exercises for building strength and muscle in your legs, hips and core!

To find out how Resistance Training can benefit you, contact us at Active Life Fitness

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Marty Musikant

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About Active Life Fitness

We help individuals over 40 embrace a healthier lifestyle that’s filled with movement and activities. From weight loss to strengthening, nutrition to mobility, we help Union County, NJ residents live better. Start to life your best life, and love the way you look and feel.

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