Weight Training - Do It

Great article here on the New York Times website. It discusses how weight training is not only a vital part of a balanced fitness routine, but is vital for long term health.

The main point that Dr. Paul Thompson suggests is how unstimulated muscles eventually atrophy and is the primary reason why elderly individuals tend to fall more or have difficulty walking or taking stairs. Lifting weight isn’t about bulking up or toning - it’s about keeping the muscles healthy. The article also captures arguments from other specialists, including professor William Kraemer of the University of Conneticut who reiterates the falicy of the argument of why many women avoid weight training - the fear of “bulking up”. “this fear is unfounded, Dr. Kraemer and others say. Acquiring muscle mass requires testosterone levels that women don’t have. Instead, the toning that many women say they want comes from lifting heavy weights.”

My Max Bench Press and my Not so Max Squat

invisible bench press
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Last night the local crossfit WOD was 3-3-3-3-3-3-3 bench presses, working our way up to our max.

The good news is that I managed a max bench of 215lbs! that’s over 40lbs beyond body weight. The bad news is… and I’m extremely ashamed to say this, but during our last crossfit total, I maxed out at a 205lb back squat. Huh? Yep - that’s right, my max squat was 205lbs and my max bench press was 215lbs. In my eyes there is something seriously wrong with this picture.

I have a feeling (and I hope) that my max squat wasn’t really my max - it was just hovering around where I though my max would be relative to the other guys doing the total with me. On my next total, I think that I should be able to do at least a 250lb back squat as a 1 rep max - hopefully even beyond that. Grrrrr…. It kinda makes me a little PO’d that during the total I didn’t try harder. Grrrr….

The Benefits of Resistance Exercise for Breast Cancer Patients

It seems that there is no end to the benefits of exercising. A recent study conducted at the University of Alberta shows some benefits of resistance training for early-stage breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

The study, authored by Kerry Courneya, showed that resistance and aerobic training helped improve the self-esteem, muscular strength and lean body mass of individuals dealing with the “unfavorable changes” as a result of chemotherapy. Chemotherpy has a multitude of side effects that are generally related to these physical and mental areas. The study also found that resistance training improved the chemotherapy completion rate versus the sampled patients who were not doing any exercise.

Among women worldwide, breast cancer is the most common cancer and most common cause of cancer death. In 2007 it is expected to cause almost 50,000 deaths in the U.S. For us Canuks, we can help contribute to the possibility of a future without breast cancer by taking part in the CIBC Run for the Cure on September 30. The event will take place in 53 communities across Canada, and together we will be raising millions of dollars to help fund breast cancer research and awareness programs.

I’ll personally be running the 5k. However, 1km runs are also available in some communities for beginner runners and individuals who would be walking or are otherwise unable to complete a full run. For people who will be unable to attend a run, donations can be made at the CIBC Run for the Cure website.

Holy Jumpin Bodyweight Overhead Squats

This is a great crossfit video clip. Nicole - a super strong crossfitter makes several attempts at overhead squating her body weight for 15 reps. I struggle with 10 reps at half my body weight. Can Nicole do it? Watch the clip to find out.

p.s. yay crossfit.

Why Weight Training is Important for Weight Loss

When most people think of a weight loss program, they first probably think of dieting. Second to that is usually some for of cardio - walking, running, elliptical, whatever. These two components are definitely important parts of losing weight. However, what many people don’t realize is that resistance training is also very important.

Resistance training is pretty much synonymous with strength training. It’s working your muscles against some sort of resistance. This includes body weight exercises like pushups, situps and air squats as well as other forms of resistance training including weight training.

Yikes - did you just say weight training? But I don’t want to get huge like Arnold. I just want to lose the bulge.

A common misconception is that weight training should be relegated for those individuals looking to gain muscle mass - who want the big guns. While it’s true that weight training is a necessity for bodybuilders, it’s pretty much a myth that lifting dumbbells and barbells translates into getting huge. In order for this to occur, bodybuilders need to eat a large number of calories on a daily basis. It’s just a difficult thing to do - especially for women. Substantial muscle growth requires hormones (like testosterone) that just isn’t as readily available in women. Even many men have much difficulty getting the big guns. For dieters, who are probably on some sort of strict diet (hopefully a Zone diet), getting huge should not be a worry at all. It aint gonna happen - not even close.

But muscle mass is a good thing for the dieter and it’s very important to include resistance training in any sort of weight loss program. Here are some reasons why.

  • More muscle equals a higher metabolic rate. Research has shown that regular resistance training may boost your metabolic rate up to 15%. A higher metabolism means more fuel gets burned faster making it easier to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Resistance training can boost bone mineral density, decreasing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.
  • It can strengthen weak body parts and joints, reducing the risk of injury in day to day activities and sports.
  • Resistance training creates muscle and changes the body composition which improves an individual’s appearance.
  • Muscle takes up less space than fat. Building muscle changes the ratio of fat to muscle on the body, helping to create tone.

So if you’re currently on a diet and have been thinking about getting to the gym and incorporating some weights, find a good weight training program and add it to your weekly routine. If you have always thought of weight lifting as a guy’s thing or something that’s strictly for bodybuilders, think again. Weight lifting and resistance training is great for all of us, regardless of our goals.


Over on thatsfit.com, there was an article about a fitness class called, BODYPUMP. Looking at their site, it seems kinda neat.

They’ve combined an aerobic exercise class with some of the best weight training lifts. The BODYPUMP fitness program seems to almost have the same high intensity weight lifting routines that one would find in a crossfit workout of the day. However, these classes are obviously geared to an audience that isn’t going to be cleaning 155lbs. Still, sqauts, clean and presses, bench presses - including these fundamental weight lifts in an aerobic class is a brilliant idea - hopefully it catches on a bit.

However, I’m sure that the added strength element to an otherwise strictly aerobic class would no doubt intimidate folks or give them the idea that they would be bulking up by adding strength training to their workouts (myth).

Interesting, none the less. They just need to get someone like Billy Blanks on the bench and the program would be solid gold ;)

Check out the BODYPUMP program here.

My Gym

I belong to a nice gym. It just went through a good renovation and acquired some more equipment (having another couple pullup bars is nice). It’s not a huge franchise like Golds but it tries to cater to a similar crowd with the machines and whatnot. Nope, it’s nothing special, but I like it and besides, it’s down the street.

Regardless of the proximity of the gym to my home, however, there are those nights where I just don’t get home from work in time to get there for a good workout before they close. Or maybe I’m just short on time one day and can only get a half an hour in. On these days, I’m very glad that besides my gym membership, I also have a great home gym.

At my home gym, I can do all sorts of exercises - squats, cleans, deadlifts, presses, jerks, snatches, curls, hit the core, the shoulders, the legs, the arms and the back all in the comfort of my own home. And how much did this home gym cost? Nothing. Wha?!?! Yep, that’s right.

You see, all my gym consists of is a 25lb barbell and about 50 lb’s in plates. All it cost me was a trip down to my parents’ basement where I knew my Dad had a few weights sitting around gathering dust since his days when he was my age. Sure I’m not going to be pressing my max or deadlifting hundreds of pounds, but even with this measly setup, I can whip off a few sets of high intensity, high rep sets of several full body exercises.

There is no need to have the latest bowflex machine for $20 per month for the next 50 years. No real need to get an elyptical or high cost treadmill. All anyone really needs is some inexpensive weights (or possibly free for the lucky ones), a bit of empty space in the house (or the garage, or outside) and maybe a good outdoor route to occasionally run.

A good spot to find cheap weights are garage sales. Typically a good hunt early on a Summer Saturday morning will reveal some weightlifting equipment that was laying around in someone’s basement. Salvation Army and other second hand stores will also occasionally carry exercise equipment.