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Ready for Resistance Training

Most dieters think “cardio, cardio, cardio” for weight loss. For many, resistance training is an afterthought, or they think it’s just for bodybuilders or athletes. The reality is it’s beneficial for everyone -- teens, adults, seniors, men, women -- for weight management and health.

The benefits are impressive:

  • Resistance training during weight loss helps you lose more fat and less muscle, leading to a more toned, calorie-burning body. (Okay, maybe we exaggerated a little on the “machine” part.)
  • Building lean muscle mass through resistance activity can make you stronger, leaner and improve your quality of life as you age.
  • Resistance exercise helps keep your bones strong resulting in a lower risk of osteoporosis and fractures.
  • Plus, people who feel stronger and fitter due to resistance exercise often workout at a higher intensity during their cardio activity and, therefore, burn more calories. Yes, we said it, BURN MORE CALORIES!

Now that you can’t argue with why you should add it, you may have questions on how to get started.

How much do I need?

Leading health organizations recommend adults do muscle-strengthening activities that involve all major muscle groups on two or more days a week. The major muscle groups include the legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms. You don’t have to hit every muscle group in every workout. Do them all two days a week or split them up between shorter sessions more often.

How do I start?

There are a lot of options on where and how to start:
  • Get a beginner-level workout DVD focused on resistance training.
  • Start by adding a few body-weight exercises such as plank, push-ups, squats at the end of your cardio session, on your lunch break, or during TV commercials.
  • Sign up for sessions with a personal trainer or Pilates instructor.
  • Take a strength-training group fitness class.
  • Try the 20-min Resistance Routine detailed below. Do it at your local gym or at home with dumbbells and/or resistance bands.

Begin gradually with one set of 10-15 repetitions. Select a resistance that allows you to complete the repetitions with the last few being challenging. Breathe normally throughout the exercise. When you are able to complete the repetitions with ease, add another set (eventually achieving 2 to 3 sets per exercise) or increase the weight/level of resistance.

20-min Resistance Routine
Warm-up with 3-5 min of walking, then perform 1 set of 12 repetitions of each of these exercises:
1. Squats
2. Push-ups
3. Lat Pulldowns
4. Lunges
5. Lateral Shoulder Raises
6. Biceps Curls
7. Lying Triceps Extensions
Finish with 1 to 2 minutes of Abdominal Crunches -- resting as needed, and then a light stretch.
  • Visit to learn proper technique for the exercises listed and many more.
  • When using equipment at the gym, refer to the instructions on the machine or ask a trainer for assistance to help you get set up properly.

  • Change up the resistance training moves periodically. Swap out exercises that work the same muscle group.

    What do I need?

    Not only are there different ways to fit resistance into your workout routine, there are many different tools to try:

    • Dumbbells (hand weights) and barbells: adds resistance to exercises when lifted against gravity.
    • Resistance cords: a portable way to fit in resistance activity at home or on the road.
    • Balance/stability ball: large inflated ball designed to improve balance and develop core strength.
    • Medicine ball: weighted ball, often used in core and functional exercises.
    • Body weight: use your own body’s weight against gravity as the resistance (examples include leg lifts, squats, lunges, push-ups, dips, crunches, planks).
    • Weight machines: individual machines designed to target specific muscles.

    Plan your resistance exercise in advance, and track it to keep tabs on your progress. Including resistance training in your activity plan each week in addition to your cardio activity can help you lose more fat and less muscle, tone your body and improve your shape.