Remember when you were a kid and claimed that your dog ate your homework, when really you just didn't get around to writing your book report? Of course, your teacher knew you were fibbing.
While most of us are past blaming the dog instead of taking responsibility for our actions, this doesn't mean that we're beyond using excuses—whether we realize it or not.
As a personal trainer and fitness instructor, I've heard almost every reason under the sun for why people "can't" be active, let alone do something specific like lifting weights for the recommended 20 to 30 minutes twice a week. However, outside of an actual health condition and a doctor's note saying that strength training isn't recommended, lifting weights is very beneficial to the majority of people.
The benefits of weight training are numerous, including increased muscle strength, balance, bone density, lean muscle mass, insulin sensitivity and cardio endurance. Not to mention that strong, lean muscles simply look better. So if you've been making excuses and opting out of weight training, read on to get the kick that you need to start benefiting from regular strength training.
Excuse #1: Strength Training is BoringIf you get bored easily, or like activities that are a little more fast-paced and engaging, then strength training is for you. From group classes to TRX suspension training, to workout DVDs, free weights, kettlebells, and circuit training, the options are endless—and certainly not boring.
Excuse #2: I Don't Have Time for Strength and CardioThe best thing about strength training is that it can double as cardio if you do it the right way. There are three basic ways to do this. First, you can add some cardio moves, such as mountain climbers, jumping jacks or marching in place, between different strength exercises to get your heart rate up.
Second, you can do a circuit-training type format where you have no rest between exercises and perform moves that work major muscle groups (such as lunges, squats and push-ups which target multiple muscles). This also keeps your heart rate elevated, giving you a high calorie burn and working your cardiovascular system.
Third, you can do strength moves that work the lower body with the upper body (for example, a lunge with a bicep curl), to really get your heart pumping.
Excuse #3: I don't Know What to DoYou didn't think you'd get away with that excuse did you? SparkPeople is all about teaching you what you need to know. Brush up your knowledge on the principles of strength training, then read this primer on what exercises you should include. Knowledge is power.
Excuse #4: I'm Intimidated By the GymThe gym can be intimidating at first, but it doesn't have to be. Any health club staff or personal trainer should be more than happy to show you around the gym, teaching you how the equipment works. And even if that sounds pretty scary, you can always get your strength training on at home. In fact, you don't need any gear to get good strength workout done at home.
Excuse #5: I'm Afraid of Bulking UpMan or woman, lifting weights for 30 minutes a few times a week will not bulk you up. In order to get "beefy," men have to lift very heavy weights for multiple times a week (the big body builders spend hours a day in the gym). Women don't even have enough testosterone to build huge muscles, unless they very carefully control their diet and spend hours and hours in the gym (and possibly take unhealthy supplements and illegal drugs, as well).
For the everyday person, lifting weights a few times a week will definitely not bulk you up, so don't let that stop you from reaping all of the benefits of lifting weights.
Excuse #6: I Don't Want to Get HurtMoving your body in new ways and lifting weights can certainly make you more susceptible to injury. But, if you warm up properly, lift weights using proper form, understand the difference between soreness and pain and really listen to your body (not pushing it too hard, especially in the beginning), the benefits of strength training far outweigh the risks.
Excuse #7: I'm Trying to Lose Weight—I Need to Do More Cardio
When it comes to weight loss, a calorie burned is a calorie burned, no matter how you go about it. And the whole idea behind losing weight is cutting calories through both diet and exercise.
In fact, many strength workouts like bootcamps, kettlebell training and circuit training can count as cardio and help you burn more calories than easy- to moderate-intensity cardio does. In addition, strength training adds muscle to your body, which boosts your metabolism, as muscle burns more calories per ounce than fat. It can also help to reshape and tighten your body.
If you're using excuses to keep you from lifting weights, it's time to drop the nay-saying game and just try it. Strength training is an essential activity for your overall health that will help body composition, thereby making weight-loss easier. So don't delay; try strength training today.
Reach your goals in a fitness class.
Portland Personal Training Examiner Amy Rutherford-Close became a Certified Personal Trainer so she could help others put their health first.
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