Weight training necessary for fitness, experts say

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    Women on the “cardio deck” and men in the weight room – that’s the dichotomy of the University Recreation Center. Men want to be muscular; women want to be slender. But experts say females who don’t weight train are missing out, and men who don’t weight train properly aren’t doing any good for their bodies. Experts say while cardio activities such as running and walking have their benefits, weight training works a body in an different way – one that too many people are missing.

    BENEFITS

    Cardiovascular workouts are good for the body because they improves heart function, said Trey Morrison, director of fitness and wellness for Campus Recreation. This type of exercise, he said, helps to get a person from point A to point B. Obtaining muscular strength improves how much a body can do, as well as endurance.

    “So if you gain muscular endurance in your legs weight training and then you had a job like nursing or something where you’re always on your feet, then your body can carry your legs,” Morrison said. “They’re stronger, so they can carry you longer and be more resistant to fatigue.”

    Lauren Prasek, a senior marketing and fashion merchandising major, said lifting lower-body weights helps her in other training.

    “I am training for the Chicago Marathon and weight training reduces injuries while running,” she said.

    Rob Guyer, fitness director for Bally Total Fitness Club on Green Oaks Road in Fort Worth, said weight training also provides the ability to be more productive in other areas of exercise.

    “You can perform higher stress activity with more ease,” Guyer said.

    With strength training, a person improves bone density, and if done correctly, posture, he said. It increases stability in the joints if done with a balanced technique.

    Shana Savitz, a former personal trainer and aerobics instructor for the Rec Center, said more muscle mass also increases metabolism.

    “The more muscle you have, the faster you burn calories,” she said. “If you’re on that cardio deck all the time, you’re burning up your muscle.”

    Not only does running without strength training tear down muscle, but as people grow older, they are also at a disadvantage when it comes to muscle.

    Guyer said people start losing muscle mass at the age of 25, allowing body fat to creep in more easily. As a person gets older, training gets more important to keep fat away.

    Savitz said no muscle mass and too much cardio have the opposite effect of what the popular perception is.

    “It’s not ‘the more the better,’ which a lot of people think,” she said. “Your body ends up going into starvation because you exercise so much. You burn the muscle and store the fat.”

    Morrison said weight training also changes the shape of the body.

    “Cardiovascular makes you smaller if you do it right,” he said. “Weight training gives you the definition and tone in your arms.”

    Most importantly, weight training will affect you later in life.

    Strong muscles will help prolong a better quality of life, he said.

    HOW TO WEIGHT TRAIN

    Some of the myths about weight training are how it changes body shape. Guyer said many females are hesitant to weight train because they’re afraid they will develop large, bulky muscles.

    “Some people are afraid to lift because they associate weightlifting with the people they see in body building magazines,” he said.

    Morrison said varying methods of lifting weights changes how muscles develop.

    “It’s how you lift as to what determines bulking or toning or endurance,” he said.

    To manipulate bulking and toning, a person adjusts the amount of weight he or she lifts and the number of repetitions. Savitz said people who want to gain bulk should increase the amount of weight, decrease the amount of reps and increase the number of sets, which consists of the amount of consecutive reps. Those who want to tone should decrease weight and add more reps.

    Morrison said no matter how much weight a person lifts, it should be done to fatigue, meaning the last rep is hard. If someone is lifting to tone, he or she should not be able to do 60 reps. He said the general amount of reps for those who are doing heavy weight training is three to five. Those who want to build strength should do about eight to 10, and people who want to tone should lift about 15 to 20 reps.

    He said a person shouldn’t be able to lift beyond those repetitions. If a person can, then he or she needs to increase the amount of weight. People just starting to strength train should do more reps with less weight and then increase when they can increase repetitions.

    Morrison said the American College of Sports Medicine recommends weights three to five times a week.

    Savitz said depending on what a person’s goal is, the amount of cardio and weight training will vary. If a person is looking to gain strength, she said, he or she might do three days of weight training and two days of cardio. If someone wants to lose weight, he or she should do three days of cardio and two days of strength training.

    Jessica Morina, a senior marketing major, said she lifts weights along with running to keep in better shape.

    “The majority of my weight training consists of exercises to strengthen my arms, shoulders, and upper and lower back. I do three sets of eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise, and I typically lift weights three to four times a week,” she said.

    Savitz said rest in between workouts is important because that’s how muscles grow.

    “That’s when you gain your strength and lean body mass,” she said.

    Guyer said most people need about 48 hours of rest in between strength-training sessions. If people overtrain, they will lose muscle tissue and their bodies need longer recovery. This can lead to chronic injury and pain.

    Morrison said the amount of time a person should spend in the weight room may be hard to determine.

    “There’s not really so much of a time as you’re supposed to be lifting a well-rounded lifting regiment to incorporate a full range of motion in body parts,” he said.

    Morrison said machines and free weights both have their advantages and disadvantages when it comes to working well-rounded lifting. While free weights cause a person to use more stability and work more muscles, a person needs a spotter to ensure safety. Machines do not require a spotter, but the applied weight only works the muscle at a certain point in the contraction because the weight is on a fixed tract.

    Prasek said she uses barbells and free weights to meet her fitness goals

    “They are so versatile and you can virtually target any muscle with the right exercise when using these,” she said.

    Guyer said he prefers free weights to machines because of practicality.

    “In real life, we don’t sit down and push and pull things,” he said.

    Many people use quick, jerky movements with a high amount of weight, he said. Although the quick movements allow a person to lift heavier weight, he or she is risking injury to the joints and isn’t working the muscle.

    He said movement should be slow and controlled. People should throw their shoulders back and move their chests out. The chin should be in a neutral position, he said; if the chin is up, it puts stress on the spine. Guyer said whether training is done sitting or standing, knees should never be locked but should have a slight bend.

    Morrison said getting blood flow to the areas someone wants to train is important. If a body part isn’t warmed up, joint injuries could occur.

    PARTNER WEIGHT TRAINING

    To maximize results, Savitz said, weight training should be done in conjunction with a balanced exercise, rest and proper nutrition.

    Guyer said proper nutrition allows muscle tissue to repair and rebuild. Carbohydrates and protein are two important nutrients in the process, he said.

    Morrison said that cardiovascular and flexibility training, such as stretching, is important in addition to weight training.

    “If you’re trying to run faster and you’re stronger, you’ll have more muscle to run faster,” he said.

    A stronger heart helps to reduce recovery time in weight training, he said.