In these early months of the year, you may have noticed that your clothes don’t fit as well as they once did. Maybe walking up a flight of stairs takes more effort. This is why many people start their weight loss resolutions (but we know those don’t always work). While walking, running, and cycling are great places to start exercise, don’t forget you need strength, too.

Pumping Iron

With the world full of fitness and health information, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. What remains true is that a healthy exercise routine includes both strengthening and cardiovascular activities. Think about daily activities that require muscle strength: lifting and carrying groceries in from the car, carrying laundry up and down the stairs, or picking up your kiddos to play.

A combination of aerobic exercise and resistance training (such as lifting weights) has been shown to improve overall weight loss, fat loss, and improve cardiovascular health. Of course, if your goal is to participate in a body building competition, that’s a different story, but for most of us, a combination of walking with strengthening is plenty.

Major Muscle Groups

What does a strength training routine look like? It depends on the individual. What are your goals? Do you feel weak in one area versus another?

Consider exercises that address major muscle groups, and then break them up through the week. For example, upper body exercises can be done on one day (shoulder raises, pull downs, bench press, rows, or bicep curls). Allow those muscles to rest by working out your lower body and core the next time you exercise (squats, deadlifts, leg extensions and curls, planks, or sit-ups). If you’re able to strength train two days per week, aim to walk, run, or cycle (or whatever floats your boat!) the other two days – three, if you can make it work.

You can combine days, if you’re pressed for time. If you do your upper body strength on one day, you can still do your cardiovascular exercise on the same day (aim for 30 minutes). It will depend on how fatigued you feel. Don’t have it in you? Don’t sweat it. Save cardio for another day.

Where to Start

It can also be overwhelming to walk into a gym full of equipment. Where are you supposed to start? Check out our YouTube video on how to choose which machine!

We also recommend visiting with a physical therapist for guidance. We can evaluate any problem areas and design a program specifically tailored for you. It’ll be much easier to start if you have help! Contact us today for a movement screen and custom exercise program!