Weight and health walk close to each, but there is more to wellness than the scale can tell. Let’s see how you can use strength training to your favor.
All over the Internet, we find more and more discussions about weight. Some of these interactions are very passionate. They come from people of various backgrounds who are passionate about their opinion about the subject. I’m not here to defend one or the other. There are as many sides to the topic as there are people talking about it.
[Tweet “Understand how you can use strength training for #health and #weightloss. #personalimprovement”]
My personal approach to weight (loss or gain) is the one that leads to health. I’m all for having role models and being inspired by them. I myself have many. Some of them, I have been able to meet in person or work with online. Even though I sincerely admire these men and women and respect them for what they have accomplished, they are not me. I’m not better or worse than them. I’m just me, with my body type and body composition. And it’s based on this uniqueness that I’m developing a way to reach my “ideal” body.
Difference between body type and body composition
When we talk about the amount of body fat, it’s related to body composition. Body type has to do with shape and size.
Please read What You Need To Know About Body Fat For Health to understand body composition better. Here, I’ll be focusing more on body type and how to train accordingly and get the body composition of your dreams.
I’m pretty sure you have heard of those nicknames used to describe different body types. Personally, I find them quite denigrating. There might be those who don’t mind being compared to fruits, but the idea disturbs me. That’s why I’ll stick to the more informative descriptions1.
Those who have an ectomorph body have “fragile” bones. In bodybuilding, they are called “hard gainers” because it’s more difficult for them to put on weight.
Those with an athletic body shape are generally mesomorph. Their muscles are well-defined and they have no problems to gain or lose weight.
Endomorphs are usually short and have strong muscles. They physique is round, their metabolism is slow and they don’t lose fat easily.
Please note that these definitions are general and have nothing to do with weight itself. There isn’t a better body either. They are just different and require different approaches to achieve certain results.
That’s why sometimes one follows a one-size-fits-all plan to a T, but gets little or none results. Maybe that plan, as good as it might be, is not the best option for your body type.
When you are working with a Personal Trainer or a Fitness Professional, they’ll guide you into the right direction. If you are on your own and don’t have the necessary knowledge, you may find yourself moving around in circles without much success.
Sometimes people may feel almost doomed for having one certain body type. Men generally hate being an ectomorph, while women frequently fight against an endomorph shape. And believe it or not, being a mesomorph is not a guarantee of happiness either. It all depends on your favorite physical activity.
What’s left to us then? We are to train properly to achieve more from our efforts.
[Tweet “Weight lost with strength training doesn’t come back easily. #health #personalimprovement”]
Using strength training as an ally to weight loss
It was not by chance that I decided to talk first about strength training before cardio for weight loss. There is so much misunderstanding about it that before writing about the traditional solutions, I want to bring some light to the subject.
Strength training is many times seen as a synonym for bodybuilding which isn’t accurate. One can subdivide strength training in resistance training and weight training.
When you work with resistance bands, for example, you are doing strength training. Lifting heavy weights as part of a weight training regimen is also strength training.
It’s advisable that beginners start with resistance training to build proprioception2. From the moment you can regulate your posture yourself, without needing correction from a trainer or a mirror, your chances of training heavier without getting hurt are bigger.
Don’t take the “no pain, no gain” mentality by the book. It can be dangerous if you can’t tell the difference between DOMS3 and an injury.
How to train efficiently
If you are an ectomorph and would like to build some muscle mass, you should at least dim the amount of cardio you do. If your diet is balanced and you are doing weight training, you can leave the treadmill aside.
Women don’t need to worry about getting muscular. It takes years and years of heavy lifting to achieve a certain body shape. Chances are the idea you have in mind is not even acquired naturally. What you will get with resistance training is a healthy body with strong muscles that will support your bones.
A balance of cardio and strength training is the best formula for mesomorphs. Even though they gain and lose weight quite easily, they tend to gain fat easier than an ectomorph.
Maybe your favorite sport does not require that you are super lean. Look at CrossFit athletes, for instance. Even though they hold significant muscle mass, they are in no way as lean as bodybuilders. It’s just not like that that it works for them. Instead of traditional cardio, you can invest in power training. Adding active rest in between sets can also give your workout an extra boost.
With proper nutrition and a combination of the right amount of exercises as well as some variation, you can reach your best in no time.
This is the body type of yours truly. We, endomorphs, gain fat easier than muscle mass. Without a combination of cardio and strength training, we have a hard time reaching balanced body composition.
Just burning oneself off doing cardio is not a solution for us. We also burn the little muscle we worked so hard to accumulate if we play battery bunny. This muscle is what extends the window in which our metabolism is doing its best.
A combination of strength training and HIIT4 can get us where we want without exhausting our body.
[Tweet “Variation in exercising supports muscle balance and avoids injuries. #health #personalimprovement”]
To lose weight, the mathematics is simple: you have to burn more calories than you intake. It’s not rocket science. Cardio will help you lose weight in general for sure. However, to make it help you lose fat without burning up your muscles is not that simple. Mainly when you are overdoing it.
But then you tell me: “Debbie, I’m a runner. I’m not into this whole strength training thingie.”
Let me tell you one thing: whatever sport or physical activity you prefer, your performance can always be improved by some resistance or weight training.
By running, you’ll improve your speed and mechanisms to perform better as a runner. But at the same time, to support that extra effort, you want to have stronger joints and muscles.
Have you already noticed that top athletes in any sport do other kinds of physical training as well? And why do you think it’s so? Just because? No, they don’t have time to waste and they want to perform at their best. That’s why they need to work their body all around.
Athletes want to improve their results without overloading the same muscles over and over again. They need balance if they want to reach and stay on the top. They adapt their routine depending if they are on- or off-season, date of previous and next competitions, for example. This also facilitates recovery, prevents injuries, and allow improvement without risking overtraining.
I hope you feel like including some strength training to your routine. If you are to start, please make sure you add it from day one.
In the beginning, you may experiment some weight “gain”. Please don’t let it get to you. Because their volume is different, one pound of muscle mass doesn’t look the same as one pound fat.
That’s when your scale may not always reflect the truth about your health condition. Use it to your favor, but don’t become a slave of your weight. The way your clothes fit is a much better thermometer.
My 4 tips for you to get started with strength training are:
- After going through any necessary test, make sure you let your health care provider know that you are interested in doing strength training.
- Don’t be afraid if your personal trainer puts some weight in your hands. It’s for your best interest.
- Ladies, please, stop the nonsense that you’ll look like men!!!
- Guys, leave the ego outside the gym. If you want to be fit for life, you have to use proper form.
Do you do strength training on a regular basis to support health?
Please check also the previous post of this series:
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It’s with great pleasure that I want to announce the winner of the Grokker Giveaway.
Congratulations Kathleen ! I’ll be contacting you to get your details to send you the link to sign up to Grokker and enjoy your 3 months of wellness. Please make sure you get back to me before October 26th, 2015. I’m sure you will love Grokker the same way as I do.
A big thank you to everyone who participated in the giveaway! Remember that you can still use the discount code 99CENTS for 99 cents for the first month of premium membership on Grokker.
Get it done!
* You can also find me on:
Twitter (Fitness): https://twitter.com/DebbieR_Fitness
Twitter (Geek): https://twitter.com/DebbieInShape
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+Debbieinshape/ (em português)
- Your Body Type – Ectomorph, Mesomorph or Endomorph? – https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/body-types-ectomorph-mesomorph-endomorph.html
- Proprioception: the sense of the relative position of neighboring parts of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement.
- DOMS: stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. It’s the pain and stiffness felt in muscles several hours to days after unaccustomed or strenuous exercise.
- HIIT: stands for Hight Intensity Interval Training. It’s a system in which high-intensity exercise intervals intermingled with periods of lower intensity intervals of active recovery.