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The Benefits of Weight Training
by Deborah J. Myers
It seems as though fitness in the eighties and nineties stressed aerobics, aerobics, aerobics. In the midst of jogging, spinning and cycling, we lost sight of the health benefits of weight training. While power lifting involves hefting beefy dumbbells, and body building builds heavy, muscle-bound bodies, weight training tones, tightens, and trims flab.
Trainer Lynn Guist stated on the members.tripod.com web site: "Weight training increases your energy level, develops your muscles so that they work more efficiently, and reduces wear and tear on your body. Firm, well-toned muscles burn more calories during exercise than when the body is at rest." The fat loss results from weight training's increasing the body's metabolic rate.
Such weight loss is maintainable because weight training is not a fad or "quick fix"; it is a lifelong healthful habit. To weight-train successfully, however, you need to develop a routine that will accomplish what you want and what you'll be able to stick with.
The first step to developing your weight-training routine is to decide what you want to accomplish. By setting goals, you can effectively set up your routine to get the kinds of results you will be happy with. The old saying, "If you aim for nothing, you will probably get it," is true in this situation too.
You can either target specific areas of your body that need toning, or go for overall toning. If your goal is to improve the firmness and strength of your upper body, for instance, and you are satisfied with your legs, focus on your arms and back. If overall toning and weight loss is your goal, each muscle group needs attention.
After you set your goals, you can design your routine. The amount of weight should "work you, but not break you," says Ted Myers, winner of nine Colorado state body-building titles. You should feel strain, but you should not force yourself to do more repetition of moves than you are able. If you do so, you will build body mass and you should have a lifting partner to "spot" you.
Women should not worry about becoming muscle-bound. Since the female body has far less testosterone than the male body, it is much more difficult for women to build mass, even with many repetitions (reps). However, if you're lifting to tone, either gender should keep the weight slightly challenging with a realistic number of reps.
To decide what moves you should use, consult a personal trainer, check your local library for books on weight training (not "power lifting" or "weight lifting" or "body building"), or search the Web. For a list of personal trainers in your area, call the American Council on Exercise at 1-800-825-3636. The key is to find the moves that work for you. Everyone is different, and what may do wonders for someone else may not be right for you. You should perform one to two contrasting lifting moves per body part for all-around toning or for spot to...