Weight lifting has many benefits

By: Angela Becnel - Staff Writer
Lifting weights is an exercise classified as resistance training. In other words, the weights are heavy, and the lifter resists earth’s gravitational pull. What this does is to increase muscle mass, tone the body and increase bone density, among other benefits. Anyone can start lifting weights anytime. It is never too late to start achieving benefits.

For newcomers to weight lifting Shallan Richard, owner of Anytime Fitness in Crowley, advises, ”Keep it simple at first. Focus attention on developing good form and lift free weights or operate weight machines which are familiar to you.”

“Start off with a weight amount which is comfortable for you, not too heavy at first,” she added.

A warm up is necessary which might include a light jog or a march in place for a few minutes to “heat up” the body. Then try stretching before lifting weights to prevent injury. Shallan recommends, “If you are unfamiliar with the use of machines or the mechanics of free weights, ask for directions or assistance.”

Many local fitness facilities offer free orientations.

“The more muscle on the body, the more calories one burns at rest.”

Together with his wife Shallan, Personal Trainer Matthew Richard is owner of Anytime Fitness.

“Ladies, have no fear. Women will not get bulky training with weights due to the lack of testosterone (male hormone) in the female body. Instead weight lifting builds lean, tone muscles.” Muscles feel “lifted.”

Strength training translates to more calories burned. You burn calories during strength training, and your body continues to burn calories after strength training, a process called “physiologic homework.” More calories are used to make and maintain muscle than fat, and in fact strength training can boost your metabolism by 15 percent — that can really jump start a weight loss plan.

Strength training plays a role in disease prevention. Studies have documented the many wellness benefits of strength training. If you have arthritis, strength training can be as effective as medication in decreasing arthritis pain. Strength training can help post-menopausal women increase their bone density and reduce the risk of bone fractures.

There are a few ways to resistance train. There is what is called “free weights” which could be a pair of dumbbells with any amount of weight. This technique could also make use of a single weighted bar with weights on each end, coupled with a bench. Free weights offer free range of motion of the limbs and target or isolate specific muscle groups.

Weight training machines are another way to work out. A pin is used to change the amount of weight suitable for the desire of the participant. Machines reduce the risk of injury because they prevent the user from getting out of the “preferred” range of motion by stabilizing the body. Machines offer padding, seats and adjustments to personalize the “fit.” The weight training machines are easy to operate, self explanatory and labeled with pictures, diagrams and instructions for use.

“For these reasons, training on weight machines can aid in injury rehabilitation, as well as to prevent injury,” adds Matthew.

“Often, the machines are set up in a specific order with all the body parts grouped together,” explains Shallan. “Circuit training, or moving from one exercise to the next with little rest in between is a safe and efficient way to work out.”

Ideally, this should be done about three times per week for optimal, noticeable benefits.

Strength training helps you develop better body mechanics. Working out with weights has benefits that go well beyond the appearance of nicely toned muscles. Your balance and coordination will improve, as will your posture and overall quality of life.

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