Gym equipment can push you to work harder, especially with the help of a trainer. “Trainers and staff should demonstrate patience and good humor — or ask for someone else,” says Phil Hardesty, an exercise physiologist who works with heart patients. A trainer will teach you ideal posture, so you get the most of your time and don’t injure yourself.
Expect to sweat. “Many new exercisers arrive in their everyday clothing and expect to go through the rest of the day without a change or shower,” he notes. But “if you don’t sweat, you aren’t getting the most health benefit for your time. You’ll also miss the emotional reward — the famous ’runner’s high.’”
You also need to work your muscles close to exhaustion. If you are using weights, that doesn’t mean you must choose the heaviest weight you can manage. You can opt instead to do 15 or 20 repetitions with a lighter weight, says Michele Olson, PhD, professor of exercise physiology at Auburn University in Montgomery, Ala. Use that weight until your workout feels easy at up to 20. Then bump up to a heavier weight. It’s important to keep challenging the muscle, adding another rep or pound.
The general rule is that more reps of lighter weights build endurance; fewer reps with heavier weights will make your arms look more impressive. The National Strength and Conditioning Association offer these guidelines:
- If you’re training for muscular endurance: Do 12 or more reps per set.
- If you’re training to gain muscle size: Do 6 to 12 reps per set.
- If your goal is to increase strength: Do 6 or fewer reps per set.
To reap the gains in the Sydney study, match or beat the standard guidelines for exercise, 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity weekly (or 75 minutes of more vigorous activity weekly), as well as muscle strengthening of all major muscle groups at least twice a week.
April 08, 2020
Janet O’Dell, RN