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Lift weight? Why? Because! #1

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You know you should exercise. Lose weight. Keep the weight off. It's healthy. Your friends do it. You walk the Back Cove. You walk around the block when it is nice out. You do cardio at the Y. Yet, it's not working the way everyone says it should. You don't look or feel the way you think you should.

Do you lift weights? Well, no. Reasons? Too many confusing machines. Boring. Too many tough guys in the weight room. Can't read while lifting weights. No strength machines at Back Cove. My friends don't do it.

Maybe you should re-think about the benefits of weight lifting. I have come up with 12 reasons you should reconsider doing strength training, and I will give you four reasons each week for three weeks.

#1. You say you lost weight when you started doing regular cardio, but you still don't have that lean, muscular look that you did when you were a teenager. Reseachers at Penn State divided dieters into three groups--no exercise, aerobic exercise only, or aerobic exercise and strength training. They all lost about 21 pounds, but the weight lifters dropped six more pounds of fat than others did. The research found that for the non-weight lifters 75% of the weight loss was from fat and 25% was loss of muscle. Muscle loss may give you a good number on the scales, but the mirror reflection still looks soft and you are more likely to gain the weight back. If you build muscle as you lose weight, you will burn more fat and have a more lean, muscular look.

#2. At about age 30 we all naturally start to lose muscle mass, and without active intervention the lean muscle loss will be replaced by fat. With a slowing metabolism, if we continue our same eating habits, we will also start gaining weight which will be primarily fat. Since one pound of fat takes up 18 percent more space than one pound of muscle, our waist starts expanding, and where did the defined muscles in our arms and legs go? Our clothes don't seem to fit right anymore. Strength training will reverse the natural atrophy of lean muscle mass.

#3. As lean muscle is replaced by fat, our metabolism slows down. Fat just does not burn as many calories as muscle does. We burn calories all day and night just to keep our body functioning, but lifting weights to build more muscle bumps up our daily calorie burn rate, and a high percentage of these extra calories burned are from fat. The act of lifting weights will also expend 160-230 calories during the workout.

#4. Exercise helps keep the brain focused on a diet plan. University of Pittsburgh research on overweight adults on a diet plan found that those who did not follow a three-days-a-week strength training regimen ate more than their allotted 1,500 calories a day. The reverse was also true. If the dieters sneaked snacks, they then sometimes would not complete their workout schedule. The results of the study says that both diet and exercise will remind you to stay more disciplined toward weight-loss goals.

Convinced yet? I still have eight more reasons to lift weight.