What happens when you work out with weights? Well, that depends. If you go with very heavy weights & a lower number of repetitions, then you will build bulk, aka muscle hypertrophy. However if you work with lighter weights & a higher number of repetitions, you get what we call muscle endurance. Muscle endurance, by definition, is the ability of the muscle to perform repeated contractions, against a resistance, over an extended period of time.
Why is this important?
Because as we age, our bodies begin to change, especially in the areas of muscle mass, bone density, and metabolism. But all is not lost, because you can change all of that? Did you know that with strength training you can reverse the hands of time?
How, you ask?
According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), one of the unique qualities of the human body is its ability to change, if you challenge it. Like muscle, bone is living tissue and when you challenge it, the bone becomes more dense and less brittle.
When you build muscle (or muscle endurance), you are increasing the muscle fibers, you are building bone density (to stave off osteoporosis, the loss of bone density), and most exciting of all, especially for you weight watchers, you are changing your metabolism because you are changing the proportion of muscle to fat.
What are some of the purposes of our bones?
Besides the obvious, to give us shape and allow us to move, the bones also serve several other important functions: protect our vital organs, store calcium & phosphorus, produce red blood cells, and act as anchors for our muscles.
How to get started
One way I have found to get started is to find a strength training class through your city’s Park & Rec facilities, YMCA, or gym, if you belong to one. Or, to keep it simple, just carry two cans of food, as you take your walks. Alternately you can purchase light weights (no more than 5 pounds, at first) and follow a youtube video in the privacy of your own home.
Another option is to work with a personal trainer for a few sessions until you get the hang of it. I will be writing an entire blog post on how to choose a personal trainer soon, but suffice it to say that just like choosing any professional, not all personal trainers are created equally. They should have a certification from one of the respected certifying bodies, such as ACSM, NASM, NSCA, AFAA, or ACE. Also they should assess you and your injury history before one weight is lifted.
The American Heart Association recommends at least one or two weight-lifting sessions per week. Remember to drink plenty of water, and eat protein within an hour after lifting weights.
Join me in changing your body with weight-lifting, and turn back the hands of time. You will look better, feel younger and revitalize your body, one repetition at a time.
Write to me at Twitter: @JLitvin to let me know your thoughts or questions.