In my previous post on natural weight loss, I started going over how to get more out of our workouts. Like most people do, we started with cardio, but unfortunately that’s also where a lot of them stop. I suppose mainly because relatively speaking, cardio is simple and easy to get started on. Resistance training (weight/strength training) can be more complex with all the various equipment and methods; it can be quite intimidating.
It’s a shame, because resistance training is just as (if not more) important to your natural weight loss than cardio is. When most people think of natural weight loss, they usually think of some type of cardio first. But mention resistance training, and they immediately picture gaining weight. However, unless you’re a dedicated body builder, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Women especially seem to shy away from strength training because, they “don’t want to bulk up”, but the vast majority of women are not going to pack on slabs of muscle unless they’re on steroids. Even most men with their higher testosterone levels won’t put on major amounts of muscle without serious dedication to diet and training.
We can still get huge benefits from resistance training though. Maintaining a good healthy muscle mass will boost your metabolism, provide added strength to make exercising easier, improve your bone strength, and help prevent injuries, especially as you age. Most of all, you can burn an amazing amount of calories in a very short time if you do it right.
Now, around the same time that I was getting serious about my natural weight loss cardio workout, I began putting a lot more thought and effort into resistance training as well. I started out at home with mostly body weight exercises and a few dumbbells and resistance bands. As always I started with small achievable goals that I could build on and progressed from there.
As I mentioned in the first natural weight loss exercise post, I started out with the classic push-up. I think I did a whopping five whole push ups the first time, but that was enough to get me going. As I got better at it, I was so impressed with how well resistance training worked, that I went on to meet my goals of doing 10, 50, 100 push-ups and then working my way into the gym where I met my ultimate goal of a 300 lbs bench press!
Eventually, I got really serious about it and worked my way up to 217 lbs at 11% body fat. Not bad for a guy in his late 30’s with no prior training, but let me tell you, it takes a lot of work to do that. Training, planning, eating, sleeping, supplementing all need to be well thought out and executed to build a lot of muscle naturally. It was too much for me to maintain, so I eased back on things quite a bit. Now days I still lift but just enough to stay fit and to make sure my natural weight loss remains permanent.
Just like cardio, the most important thing is that you simply do it. You don’t have to be perfect, just do your best and keep improving. Let’s get of on the right foot by eliminating a few common mistakes though…
Natural Weight Loss – Resistance Training First
A lot of people like to do their cardio before they do their resistance training. Don’t , it’s a big mistake. You will be much better off if you do things the other way around. This is because the bursts of exertion in strength training require readily available energy sources to be most effective, but the slower steady pace of cardio can rely on fat stores to for fuel.
What you want to do is strength train first in order to burn off your glucose and glycogen. Once you’re done, you can go do your cardio and burn fat the whole time (another reason why I said not to worry about the fat burning heart rate zone yesterday).
Ideally, to build the most muscle you would not do both cardio and resistance on the same day or at least do cardio in the morning and wait at least eight hours before doing resistance in the evening. However, our main concern is successful natural weight loss for the average person, so doing both during the same workout, in that order, will work great.
Natural Weight Loss – Time is everything
Men and women, both, have testosterone which is critical for strength training. As soon as you start working out, your levels begin to drop, and after 30 to 45, minutes you run out. Now we’re not trying to build massive muscles here, but we still want to get the most of out our efforts – so get in, get done, and get out. If all you’re doing is resistance training, you should be in and out of the gym in less than an hour, including warm up. Anything longer is a waste of time.
The other reason to move it along is that you don’t want abuse your rest period between sets. Don’t let your muscles rest too long between sets or exercises, or you won’t get as much out of it. Also, you’ll send your metabolism through the roof and burn a ton of calories if you keep a good pace that gets you done and out in 30 to 45 minutes.
Natural Weight Loss – High or Low Reps
It’s an age old cliche that high reps with low weight tones muscle and low reps with high weight builds muscle, but that’s not exactly accurate. You see, when you strength train you cause micro-tears in your muscles which your body repairs and then slaps a little extra on to prevent future injury and whenever you lift weights this process happens. It’s just that one way is more effective at it than the other.
The micro-tears happen when you overload the muscle with more resistance than it’s used to. Lifting a small weight many times will do this, but lifting a heavier weight will do it much quicker and better, so that’s the one we want. Not only will it build muscle and strength better, but fewer reps means less time which means getting done faster!
Natural Weight Loss – Resistance Training at Home
With all that in mind, it can seem a bit daunting to setup an effective workout routine especially at home with little equipment to work with. So, let’s set one up to give you an idea where to start. We’ll split the muscle groups into three groups and target each group on separate days. The main muscle groups are arms, legs, chest, back, shoulders and abs. We’ll split them up into arms and back, legs and abs, chest and shoulders.
Monday – Arms and Back
- 3 x 10 Dumbbell Rows – Upper Back
- 3 x 10 Superman – Lower Back
- 3 x 10 Dumbbell Curls – Biceps
- 3 x 10 Hammer Curls – Biceps
- 3 x 10 Triceps Extensions – Triceps
- 3 x 10 Close Grip Push-Ups – Triceps
Wednesday – Legs and Abs
- 3 x 10 Squats – Upper Legs
- 3 x 15 Calf Raises – Lower Legs
- 3 x 10 Lunges – Upper Legs and Glutes
- 3 x 15 Crunches – Upper Abs
- 3 x 15 Leg Raises – Lower Abs
Friday – Chest and Shoulders
- 3 x 10 Push-Ups – Chest
- 3 x 10 Wide Push-Ups – Chest
- 3 x 15 Dumbbell Press – Shoulders
- 3 x 15 Lateral Dumbbell Raises – Shoulders
- 3 x 15 Front Dumbbell Raises – Shoulders
Most of these can be done at home with no equipment and a few just need an inexpensive set of dumbbells or resistance bands. You should be able to complete each day’s routine in 30 minutes or less. Maybe not at first, but with a little practice you can do it.
Start with very light or no weight at all to get started, and then, continually challenge yourself to add more and more resistance. You will be surprised how quickly you gain strength and will find yourself looking around for ways to make the exercises harder. Be creative. You can put your feet up on the bed to make push-ups harder or have a kid hang on your back to add weight while you do calf raises on the stairs.
I suggest 3 x 10 (3 sets of 10 repetitions), because I don’t know what kind of weights you have at home, and you might need to do a lot more reps than if you were in the gym. Start out doing push-ups on your knees if you have to and work your way up. Try to shoot for more resistance over more reps, but at home that can be tough.
Natural Weight Loss – Write it down!
The workout above is only an example of how to plan your routine which is the single biggest thing you need to do for your resistance training.
Get another $1.00 spiral notebook and write down what you plan to do for your workout this week. As you do your routine, write down how you do, so you can refer to it when you set your goals for next week. You don’t want to be trying to remember what you’re supposed to be doing or how much weight you did last week when you’re in the middle of your workout. Have it ready, so you can get done quickly and keep track of your progress.
There is tons more stuff I could go over, but the main points here should be more than enough to get your started in the right direction for your natural weight loss plan. Just remember…
- Resistance before cardio
- No foolin around, get done quick
- More resistance over more reps
- Good form over reps or weight
- Compound over isolation exercises
- Free weights over machines
- Write it down!
I know I didn’t go into detail with all those, but follow those tips and you will be light years ahead of most other people. Feel free to ask questions in the comments and I’ll answer them quick as I can.
This is some heavy stuff man,
Randy “The Natural Weight Loss Geek” Lee