|A holiday health Q&A|
|Sunday, 20 November 2016|
by Karl Lenser
Q: I am interested in adding strength training to my exercise routine. Which is better — free weights or machines?
A: If you have never lifted weights before, it might be wise to begin with weight machines. They are usually easy to operate and are safer than free weights. The motion is identical on each repetition, and, unlike dumbells or barbells, you don’t have to balance the weights. Make sure you control the lift in both directions and use a 2:4 count pattern. Two seconds to lift the weight stack and four seconds to lower it. Slow and controlled is best.
Free weights are also an effective tool in achieving strength and toning. Beginners may want to make an appointment with a trainer to make sure their form is correct and to establish a basic, yet effective routine. Another option would be to attend a group exercise class that is geared towards lifting. The instruction that you receive and the social aspect/accountability factor of these classes are both very powerful and effective.
Strength training should be part of everyone’s exercise routine. It helps us look and feel better, boosts metabolism 24/7, improves function ability and aids in blood pressure control. Using machine weights, free weights or your own body weight (pullups, pushups, planks, mountain climbers, etc.) are all effective in improving your strength and muscle tone.
Q: I was wondering if steam rooms and saunas can help you lose weight.
A: This question is on my “Top 10” under the “Exercise Myth” category. You CAN lose weight — water weight — and only temporarily. The weight you lose by using saunas or steam rooms will NOT be fat weight, and this is the weight you want to lose. Attempting to lose weight by these methods would be basically the same as mowing your grass outside at noon on a hot and humid day.
You just perspire a lot and lose water, which is regained within a few hours. Another false technique that I occasionally see (and cringe at) is the “sauna jackets” that some folks use while running outdoors or hammering out an elliptical or Stepmill workout. These non-breathable jackets enhance perspiration, and, similar to saunas and steam rooms, make you FEEL like you are losing fat.
The safest and most effective way to lose fat weight is by having a consistent exercise plan that incorporates cardio and strength training along with a diet that has adequate calories.
A Conway resident, Karl Lenser is the employee wellness coordinator at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse. An accomplished runner, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.