Tag Archives: Strength Training

Toning and spot reducing. Both are a myth.

Toning is spot reducing. Both are a myth..pngWe are constantly flooded with information about exercises that “work” to tone certain areas of the body.   We are told how we can “get” a body that looks a certain way.   It can provide motivation to exercise, (for a while anyway) believing you can change the look of your body.  But, what does it mean to tone?

Spot reducing is the idea that you can exercise a certain part of your body and burn more fat in that area.  Most people I talk to know this is a myth. But what many do not realize is that “toning” or “working” certain areas is just another name for spot reducing.  It is doing an exercise to change the look of a certain part of your body.

The problem is, this is just not how our body works:

  • Fat:   Exercising a muscle does not make it burn the fat in that area. The muscle gets its fuel from what is stored in the muscle and the blood supplied to it.  It does not use the fat around the muscle to fuel it during the exercise.
  • Muscles:  Whether the shape or “definition”  of a muscle shows on the outside depends on many factors including the genetic make up of your muscles (this is the main one!), the intensity and consistency of your strength training,  and the amount of body fat you have in that area.  The fact is, we just don’t have that much control over how much muscle definition we see.  Yes, you can work a muscle hard to strengthen it, but it does not mean you will see more definition.
  • Skin: There is some evidence that strength training can help tighten the skin. While this is limited, it is the only evidence we have that you have any control over your skin.  So do strength training for your skin if that motivates you, but don’t expect huge changes.

Then, what does happens when you “work” an area of the body?

You miss out on the chance to teach your muscles to work as a team.   “Toning” or “sculpting”  and bodybuilding style strength training  mainly trains muscles individually, separating areas of the body. (ie:  triceps exercises, thigh exercises, core exercises)  In life, muscles work together.

For example, the core muscles stabilize and allow the hips and shoulders to be stronger for lifting and carrying and reaching.  They do not work alone in daily life.     Doing core work to “tone” your middle means these muscle miss out on doing their job of stabilizing while you move your arms and legs.

You are also likely to miss out on your motivation.  Since “toning” is a marketing term, backed by many Photoshoped images, doing those exercises isn’t likely to give you the “results” you want.  This is a sure-fire way to lower your motivation to exercise over time.

If you try to tone while doing cardio, you could be missing out on the stamina building benefits. You could also be putting more strain on your joints.  Using weights during walking or aerobics strains the shoulders and does not “tone” the arms.  Choose the type of cardio you do that feels best for your body, not because it will “work” certain areas.

Lets stop chasing the “toning” dream and missing out on the benefits that add so much to life.   Do strength training to improve your function and keep your muscles, bones and motivation strong as you lose weight.   Exercise in the way that lets your body know it is not “a problem to be fixed”, but a miracle to be celebrated!

Keep Moving, Be Well

Janet

 

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by | May 1, 2018 · 5:43 pm

Save time: Cut the Core Classes

Core-Class-PicLast week while on vacation I was exercising at a gym, which I don’t do often.  It was a great chance to do some “field research”, providing many blog topics 🙂

The biggest tip I want to share is – please do not waste time going to a core exercise class.  I observed 20 people wasting a perfectly good half hour on the floor doing all kinds of exercises for their abdominal muscles.  Why wasting time? Two big reasons:

  1. It’s not how the core is designed to work:  One job of the core muscles is to stabilize and protect the spine when the body moves.  Another is to provide a strong foundation for all movement because when the trunk is aligned and stable, the upper and lower body can be stronger with less wear and tear.   Working on each of the abdominal muscles individually while laying down does not mean they will know how to do their job during activities of everyday life.   When we incorporate activating the core while using the arms and legs it learns to support, stabilize and protect in the way it was designed.
  2. Spot reducing is a myth:  All that time working on this “trouble spot” in the body will not burn more fat around the middle.  Its just not how the body works.  Why then, would it be worth using a significant amount of your exercise time “working” on your core? I cannot think of a reason.  Instead use that time to do quality strength training for your whole body while incorporating your core muscles into those movements.  The result will be a greater impact on your metabolism, core muscles that know how to do their job well, and time left over to do more of what you enjoy in life.

I do realize this is a big shift from what is highly popular in the media right now.  Notice this week how much fitness marketing and social media focus on ineffective core exercises with promises of spot reducing.  However, you as the savvy fitness consumer know better.  If you are a Weight Center patient and want instruction on how to incorporate your core into your strength training, let me know and we will set up an appointment.

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

 

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by | July 25, 2017 · 1:52 pm

Myth #6: Myths of Strength Training

Weight loss can be up to 30% muscle loss!  Muscle makes up a big portion of our metabolism level so metabolism can take a big drop when we lose weight.    Strength training counteracts this metabolism lowering effect of weight loss.  However, there are several myths that get in the way of making strength training part of a weight loss plan.   Here are the reasons I hear most often:

I don’t need to do strength training, I get enough in everyday life:  Moving in daily life is thCAY06ENZimportant for health but is probably not enough to counteract the muscle loss with dieting.  Muscles are made up of many muscle fibers.  The muscle fibers we use, add to our metabolism. The ones we don’t use, go into a hibernation and don’t add much to metabolism.   Most daily movements don’t fatigue muscles fully, leaving some muscle fibers still “asleep”.  Strength training helps wake up muscle fibers and keeps them awake, burning more calories for the next 24-48 hours!

I don’t have time  for strength training:   Doing just one set of basic strength training exercises, working the muscles to fatigue, 2-3 times a week has been shown to be effective.  When you remove all the myth based exercises that just waste time, it really takes about 2-3 sessions a week of about 15-30 minutes.

dumbbell-940375__480I don’t have equipment/gym membership: Dumbbells are one of the best investments in fitness equipment.  They last a long time and they are all you need for a complete strength training program.   Check out yard sales and thrift shops for low cost options.  Want a free option? Soup cans or detergent bottles filled with water are great substitutes! 

I have back pain:    Strength training, done in a way that teaches the core muscles to protect the back during movements of daily life, can decrease back pain.  The key is starting light, listening to your body and paying close attention to using proper form before increasing the amount you are lifting.

I just want to work ____ part of my body:  When we work on “target areas” we are doing a program based on the myth of that we can burn more fat in certain areas of the body by exercising that part. (AKA “spot reducing).   Avoid wasting time on this myth based approach to exercise.  Instead focus on using all of your muscles so metabolism increases and helps your body burn fat all over.

I am concerned I will get hurt:  One surefire way to get injured with exercise is to do too much, too soon.  Listen to your body.  Be smart when adding a new exercise or increasing the resistance.  Exercise is very safe when we work with our body, rather than trying to push the limits to fast.

I want to lose weight first and then build muscle:  It is much easier to maintain muscle than regain it after it is lost.  Plus, losing muscle means lower metabolism putting weight loss success at risk.

I don’t want to bulk up: It is nearly impossible to build a lot of build muscle while losing weight.  It also takes more time and energy than most of us have to devote to exercise in order to “bulk up”.  If you have the genetics to tend to “bulk up” with strength training, keep the sets and repetitions moderate (1-2 sets of 8-12 repetitions) still working to muscle fatigue.

I don’t want to gain weight:  Muscle tissues is more dense than fat, so the myth that is scale-1987770__480weighs more has some truth.  BUT it burns more calories.   Studies show in a good quality three month strength training program participants gained only about three pounds of muscle, but that did not show up on the scale because they lost fat at the same time.

I don’t want to be in more pain:  It is a myth that muscle soreness is needed to build muscle strength. Strength training should not leave you in pain.   If you have arthritis pain, use a slow gradual progression but don’t avoid strength training.  It has been shown to reduce arthritis pain.

Keep Strength Training and Be Well,

Janet

Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

 

 

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by | March 15, 2017 · 5:14 pm

Two facts to know if you are dieting

fact

# 1 Dieting lowers metabolism

  • According to a large review study, by about 5.8 calories per day, for each pound lost (7).
  • If you were to lose 50 pounds your body would end up burning 290.5 fewer calories per day.
  • Some studies show it could even be more than that.

#2 Strength training is by far the best way to counteract this lowering of metabolism

  • Even without dieting, inactive adults lose about 3% to 8% of muscle mass per decade, lowering metabolism
    • This loss is increased not only with dieting, but with bed rest (starts within 24 hour)s and certain other medical conditions
    • Ten weeks of strength training can increase resting metabolic rate by 7% or more!
    • Cardiovascular exercise is not as effective as strength training for preserving metabolism (we need both types of exercise).
    • Strength training also has many great “side effects”
      • Improved ability to do daily activities, walking speed, and self-esteem.
      • Prevention and management of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, lung disease, and bone loss (with studies showing 1% to 3% increase in bone mineral density)
      • Reduced low back pain and easing discomfort associated with arthritis and fibromyalgia


Enough said!

Keep Moving, Be Well

Janet

Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

 

 

 

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by | September 14, 2016 · 5:40 pm

Need Another Reason To Strength Train?

dumbbellsThere are many, many reasons to add a regular strength training routine to your weekly schedule.  We know that strength training plays an ESSENTIAL role in preserving muscle, strength, bone, balance and metabolism with weight loss.

Need another reason to make it a priority?

A recent study published in the medical journal Preventative Medicine found that among the 30,000 U.S adults  in the National Health Interview Survey (HNIS), which looked at health and disease trends in people 65 and older, only about 9 percent were doing strength training the recommended twice a week.  However, when they looked at  that group a bit closer they found some impressive results.  These men and women had 46 percent lower odds of death for any reason than those who did not do strength training!

Even after they accounted for other healthy behaviors and medical conditions to be sure the results were just from the strength training.  PLUS, this is after they adjusted for their physical activity level overall. So the protection was not just because they were active or doing other healthy behaviors, it was something unique about the strength training that provided the protection.

Hopefully this will help put the myths to rest that strength training is just for body builders, or that muscle is bad because it weights more than fat, or that it causes big bulky muscles.  Hopefully next time they do this study they will find more than 9% of the folks are doing strength training!
The great news is that it does not take much time. Twice a week, even one set does it.  That will take maybe 15-30 minutes each session.   Its quite a bargain!
Keep Moving (Strength Training), Be Well,
Janet

Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

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by | May 11, 2016 · 6:54 pm

Life After Weight Loss Surgery – Exercise Part I

Mannus

Achieved his dream of skiing with his son, not just because he lost weight, but because he was STRONG enough to do it!

There is great celebration at the scale when a patient sees weight loss here at the Weight Center.

The celebration can only start when we understand WHAT was lost!

If a patient has been doing strength training – Whoo hoo! Let the celebrating begin! However…

About 30% of weight lost without strength training is muscle.

 Muscle = metabolism!

Muscle = strength, balance, bone strength. 

Muscle = being  able to do the things you want to do at your goal weight.

The myths that muscle weighs more than fat, that we will get big bulky muscles, that cardio is best for weight loss makes many avoid strength training when trying to lose weight.

Cardiovascular exercise such as walking, running, cycling, swimming -does not prevent this loss of muscle with weight loss.

See this blog on strength training   if you are not doing strength training and have had weight loss surgery. 

Since the weight loss is rapid after weight loss surgery, muscle loss is more likely.

For true success after weight loss surgery – regular strength training is key.

If you have questions, please contact me.

Keep Moving, Be Well

Janet

Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

1 Comment

by | March 24, 2016 · 7:50 pm

Boost Weight Loss Success

weightWhat does the number on the scale represent?

Everything that makes up body weight- fat, water, lean tissue(muscle) bone, etc.

Here is an important fact about weight loss (on the scale) to know.

About 30% of weight loss is muscle when a person does not do strength training!

So losing 100lbs on the scale could be the loss of 30 lbs of muscle!

The scale only shows that the goal weight was achieved, not what was lost.

Is this successful weight loss?
If the scale is your only goal then yes.
But your goal, I am guessing, goes beyond the scale.

Being able to do more. Being able to keep the weight of long term. Those are important goals I hear all the time.

The muscle loss means:

  • a lower metabolism
  • easier weight re-gain
  • lower strength
  • reduced balance
  • lower bone strength

It would be easy to attribute these changes to just getting older or genetics.  Reality is, when muscle is lost, the body changes. You could say it ages faster.

stMuscle loss is invisible, but not inevitable.

The good news is that the equipment the body needs to regain strength, metabolism bone and balance is still there. The muscle fibers are still there, they just need to be re-activated.

Cardio exercise such as walking, running, elliptical, swimming etc. do not re-activate the muscle fibers anywhere near as well as strength training.
Give yourself the best chance for success with weight loss with these three “not-so-time consuming” steps:

  1. Adopt a strength training routine with
    1. 2-3 non-consecutive days a week (ie: every other day)
    2. 1-3 sets of a group of exercises that challenges all the major muscle groups
    3. 8-12 repetitions to fatigue. The fatigue part is important. If you can do more than 15 repetitions it is time to up the weights.
  2. Time a snack with protein right before or right after your strength session. Studies show this will improve fat loss and muscle gain. The details of how much protein used in the studies are a bit complicated for this article. Generally adding 10-20 grams of protein beforemilk or after strength training seem to make the difference. One study found simple glass of milk was effective (8 grams of protein).
  3. Stick with strength training for life! Because we tend to lose muscle with aging, even after you reach your goal weight, strength training can insure your strength, metabolism, bone density and balance stay strong.

Keep in mind one set of strength training exercises to fatigue two days a week will do it – it is about quality not quantity. So if time is a barrier, a little investment in time can go a long way.

I cannot stress this enough.

These are three easy steps to boost your weight loss success in as little as one hour a week!

And please, please do not let the myth of muscle gain get in the way. It takes a lot of work to gain muscle that will show up on the scale. A lot of time that most of us do not have. With all that is working against muscle (weight loss, aging,  menopause, etc) too much muscle is not a worry for most of us. If you do feel you have too much muscle, cut back to the minimum level of 1-2 sets two days a week to fatigue. But don’t give up all together on this metabolism saving exercise.

If you are a Weight Center patient and are not following these three steps, email me for more information on how to get on a program.

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

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by | November 12, 2015 · 6:42 pm