If up until now you’ve foregone weight training for long, arduous cardio workouts, stop right there. Research has shown that no matter what your health goals are, you should be strength training to keep yourself healthy. But when you’re trying to create the ideal routine, things can get a little bit confusing. With this in mind, we did some digging to find out just how much you need to work to fire up those muscles and get the fat burning.
Why Strength Training Matters
As we get older, it becomes increasingly important that we’re working out in a way that helps us maintain or build up our muscle and bone mass. Aging naturally causes our tissues to wither, so working out is one of the only ways we can keep them strong. And while cardio workouts are important for things like our heart health, doing too much can also put strain on our joints and muscles, causing more harm than good.
Luckily, the American College of Sports Medicine has shared some guidelines that can help us create a routine that works. You should lift weights that are heavy enough that you can ONLY complete the desired number of reps with good form, with the last rep feeling fairly difficult. The easiest way to choose how much weight to use is to start with light weights (for example, three to five pound dumbbells) and perform your exercise, noticing when you start to feel the exercise become difficult. Depending on how you feel, use more or less weight.
As for how many reps of each exercise you should be doing, that depends on your goal. According to the ACSM, if you’re trying to burn fat, you should do three sets of 10 to 12 reps of an exercise. To gain muscle mass, you should lift slightly heavier weights so you’re able perform at least three sets of six to eight reps, until the muscles are fatigued.
According to the ACSM, a good strength-training workout includes eight to ten exercises that target different muscle groups. It’s generally advised not to train the same muscle groups on back-to-back days. Alternating between, say, training your legs and lower body muscles and your arms and upper body muscles on opposite days, can help you achieve your desired results faster. This allows the muscles to properly recover, which helps them grow.
We’re enjoying working out at home right now, and it’s easier to follow a strength-building routine more than ever. Check out our collaboration with Denise Austin, who shared her favorite workouts for the upper body, lower body, and core and back!