By Kimberly Duke, Core Performance Fitness

You’ve had it! You’re tired of feeling like crud every day and you are determined to get into shape – mentally and physically. Chances are something has happened in your life that has put you into this state of readiness.

Maybe you just got back from a shopping excursion that ended empty handed because nothing fit, or the doctor lectured you about your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol levels and blood sugar. Perhaps you’ve watched the transformation of a friend or family member who changed their unhealthy ways and have lost not only pounds but also the bad diet and habits that kept them from being healthy and fit.

Over the past two decades, I have been fortunate to have helped people from all fitness levels to become fitter and healthier through diet and exercise. The programs I created not only helped them look better, but also served as lifelong formulas to maximize performance and help maintain a higher quality of life.

As I stated in last week’s article, we tend to “lose” muscles as we age if we do not use them. I also used two words almost synonymously – strength training and resistance training. Most people understand why they need cardio – it burns fat and calories. What they don’t get is why they need to lift weights, too. Well, simply stated: You can’t move weight unless you lift weight.

Resistance training/strength training/ weight lifting increases muscular strength and endurance, boosts energy, improves balance and flexibility, and maintains or even builds bone density. It also powers up your metabolism, transforming your muscles into power fat burners. Weight training can burn from 250-400 calories in a 45-minute session plus keep your metabolism revving for at least an hour after training has stopped. Lifting weights will also firm and reshape your body, allowing you to fit into smaller sizes as it optimizes your body composition.

So, if you really want to transform your body, you have to add weight training. Instead of allowing inactivity and gravity to take over, lose the body fat and gainmuscle and tone from head to toe. The more muscle you build the smaller you will look, especially if you are a woman. That’s because fat takes up much more space, actually five times more space. In fact, when you train with weights, you actually use stored body fat to fuel the growth of your muscles. However, you can help this process by fueling your body with proper nutrients and getting adequate rest.

If you’re a beginner to strength training, consulting with a certified fitness trainer would be the best place to safely develop a program that is right for you. If you are a novice and just need direction and a community of encouragement, join a fitness class that utilizes weight training to achieve their goals. Group fitness classes can be a super way to get your groove on and become familiar and comfortable with strength training. A good instructor will always keep their eyes open to form flaws and offer cues to assist you during class. Plus, there are always other participants in the class who have been where you are and are ready and willing to encourage and assist you in achieving your goals.

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