From the time when I was in college working at fitness centers in Tuscaloosa until now, running Time For A Change Fitness here in Tuskegee, I have heard many people say this when they first start a workout program, “I just want to lose the weight first, and then I’ll do muscle work and tone it up later.”
This sounds logical right? But if you ask any fitness instructor or trainer whether that’s the right approach, you’ll get the same response — a resounding “No!”
Just think about someone you know who lost a lot of weight from dieting, gastric bypass surgery or a lot of walking or jogging but didn’t do any muscular exercise with it. Their arms and stomach and maybe even theirlegs likely became flabby as they lost the weight. This is because they didn’t work the muscle with resistance or weight training as they went along.
It’s far easier to tone up your muscles if you work them out at least a few days per week in conjunction with your cardiovascular workouts. If you work out everyday, you can do cardio one day and muscle work the next. Or you can do both everyday, splitting up your muscle groups.
For example, do cardio exercises every day, but work your abdominal muscles on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and work your arms and legs on Tuesday and Thursday. It’s typically best to work your abs before you do cardio so they will stay tight, resulting in more fat burnt during the cardio workout.
As for arms and legs, work them after cardio since your circulation will be elevated. The muscle work afterwards will generate more tone, shape or size in the areas you work.
If you’re a woman worried about bulking up, don’t worry as long as you lift light and not heavy. However, if after a month it starts feeling like you’re bulking up even with light weight, you might be someone who gains muscle mass easier than others. If this is the case, you should probably work your arms and legs before cardio.
If you’re working out at a fitness center where there are multiple muscle machines, you can put more variety to your workouts by having two workout plans that alternate daily. But if you’re working your muscles at home with dumbbells and a floor mat, look online for demonstrations of the following:
Abs — basic crunch, full crunch, reverse crunch and oblique crunch.
Arms — lateral shoulder raise, bicep curl, tricep kickback, reverse butterfly and modified pushups.
Legs — squats, lunges and floor leg lifts.
Look for a modified version of any of these if the regular ones look too difficult. As always, if you have a gym membership or access to a fitness instructor or personal trainer, he or she can show you best. So remember, in order to keep everything tight as you lose the weight, you have to incorporate muscle work into your weekly workout routine, not just cardio. Alright Tuskegee, have a healthy week!!
Editor’s note: David Henderson, owner of the Tuskegee business Time For A Change Fitness, writes a free column each week in The Tuskegee News. To contact him, call (334) 552-0862 or stop by Time For A Change at 209 N. Elm Street in Tuskegee.