Getting in shape is rarely a walk in the park. It can also be difficult and confusing when you read conflicting health advice on the internet! If you're trying to lose excess fat, it's important to know how to structure and schedule your workouts. Cardio is by no means the only way to lose weight. Many trainers suggest that you incorporate both cardio and weight training into your regimen to lose fat and gain muscle.
Many people may not be aware that lifting weights also helps you burn calories post-workout. When you work out, your muscles are strained and need time to recover. During this repair process, your body needs more energy in the form of calories. Once you finish your workout, your body's post-workout calorie burn stays elevated for longer. Burning more calories means you're burning more fat.
Weight training is by far the best way to burn fat and gain muscle simultaneously. Experts recommend doing multijoint movements called compound exercises. These exercises work large groups of muscles and require greater energy expenditure resulting in more calories burned.
A common question many women have when first deciding to weight train is how to gain lean muscle and not become too bulky. This is highly dependent on not only the number of sets and reps you do but also the amount of weight you're lifting. Simply telling you to lift lighter weights and do more reps to get lean is highly subjective and probably not very helpful. Use the following guide to help learn the correct weight for your strength exercises.
Figure out if the weights are too heavy or too light.
If you're lifting weights and have to break form to completely lift them, they're likely too heavy for you. The same applies if you can't seem to complete the number of sets and reps. On the other hand, if you're lifting weights and you feel that you could do an infinite amount and never need to rest, the weights are most likely too light and won't help you build muscle.
Figure out what your goals are.
People decide to start lifting weights for many different reasons. Some may hope it will help them tone up or feel stronger while others lift for maximal muscle growth. Once you decide your reason for weight lifting, you'll be able to better determine how much you should be lifting as well as how many sets and reps you should do.
How to determine which is the best weight for you.
Generally, you should try to find a weight that is challenging for the first few reps but can also be sustained for multiple sets. More accurately, try to find the heaviest weight that you can lift with proper form for three to five reps of an exercise. Then enter the weight and amount of reps you could do into a one-rep max calculator. The calculator will provide you with a list of percentages of your one-rep max. Using that info, locate your goal on the chart below to see how many sets, reps, and the amount of weight you should lift.
Don't forget about nutrition.
If you recently started exercising, you will also need to adjust your diet. When you weight train, your body needs more calories. It's important to make sure that your body is getting enough macronutrients, especially protein. You will need 0.5 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. Make sure to consult your doctor when changing your diet or exercise.
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