The Importance of
A recent study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that only about 20% of Americans spent the recommended amount of time (at least 30 minutes twice a week) weight training— an important component of a well-balanced fitness program.1
Weight training is a type of strength training that uses weights for resistance to challenge your muscles by forcing them to adapt to the stress of the weights. In turn, this increases the strength of your bones, muscles and connective tissues, such as tendons, ligaments and cartilage.
Why do we need to pump the iron?
Through strength training, we increase muscle mass, joint flexibility and bone density allowing us the strength to perform normal daily activities. In addition, muscle tissue is partly responsible for the number of calories burned at rest (the basal metabolic rate or BMR). During the aging process, muscle mass naturally decreases. If the tissue is not re-built, fewer calories will be burned at rest and, therefore, stored as fat. Muscle is active tissue that consumes calories while stored fat uses very little energy. As muscle mass increases through exercise, BMR increases, making it easier to maintain a healthy body weight.2
In fact, muscular health is such an important aspect of overall fitness, that a national health objective for 2010 is to increase to 30% the proportion of adults who perform physical activities that enhance and maintain muscular strength and endurance on >2 days per week (objective 22-4).3
What’s the best way to weight train to achieve a nice, toned body?
Experts say you should use a weight that is heavy enough to cause muscle fatigue after 12 repetitions, struggling to push out that last one. According to the American Council on Exercise, more repetitions are not necessarily better. Research shows that a single set of 12 repetitions with the proper weight can build muscle just as efficiently as can three sets of the same exercise. As your muscles become more efficient at lifting the current weight, increase the amount by 5 to 10 percent to keep your body challenged. You should aim to exercise each muscle group at least two times per week, resting a minimum of two days between workouts.
If you would like to start a weight training program, consult a fitness specialist or personal trainer to learn how to work all the weight training machines properly and receive a workout plan tailored to your specific needs. Visit any one of the MCCS Fitness Centers or the Risner Fitness Center to inquire about a fitness consultation.
1 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Trends in Strength Training—United States, 1998—2004. MMWR Weekly, July 21, 2006 / 55(28);769-772.
2 American Council on Exercise. Strength Training 101. [Online] www.acefitness.org
3 US Department of Health and Human Services. Healthy People 2010, 2nd ed. With Understanding and Improving Health and Objectives for Improving Health. 2 vols. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office; 2000.