The confusion may come from the fact that lean muscle actually does weigh more than fat, and when most people start a diet or exercise program, they’re looking to see the number on the scale go down. However, the benefit to gaining muscle is that it burns more calories than fat, which is why it’s such a great workout for slimming down.
Another benefit is that you can target specific problem areas, such as your legs, core, chest and back, or shoulders and arms.
Working out 3-4 times per week is plenty for a basic weight training program, but always be sure to check with your doctor before beginning any diet or exercise program.
Here are a few examples to get you started:
For each exercise, try doing 3 to 6 sets of 6 to 8 reps using 5-pound to 10-pound weights.
Stand with feet slightly apart (but not wider than hips) and a 5-pound dumbbell in each hand. Bend elbows so the dumbbells are at your shoulders. First, bend at the knees but keep your back straight, and lower yourself as if sitting on a bench (hips should be slightly below your knees). Next, keeping the dumbbells on your shoulder, return to a standing position.
Plank and Rotate
Lie on the floor in a plank position with a 5-pound dumbbell in each hand. Your feet should be apart, but only slightly wider than your hips. First, grasp the dumbbell and raise your left hand toward the ceiling, twisting your torso and rotating your pelvis as you raise your arm. Next, lower your arm back to the starting position. Repeat these steps with your right arm to complete 1 set.
Chest and Back
Floor Press (chest)
Lie on your back with a dumbbell in each hand, and place both feet flat on the floor. Your arms should be bent with the dumbbells near your shoulders and your elbows resting on the floor. First, straighten your arms, pushing the dumbbells toward the ceiling. Next, bring your arms back down, returning to the starting position.
Bent Over Row (back)
Stand with feet slightly apart and two dumbbells on the floor just in front of your feet. First, bend at the waist (keeping your back flat) and grasp the dumbbells (one in each hand). Next, with your upper body remaining bent forward, lift the dumbbells upward until the upper arm is just beyond horizontal, and then lower them to the starting position.
Shoulders and Arms
Shoulder Press (shoulders)
Stand with your elbows bent and holding dumbbells at your shoulders. First, keeping your elbows tucked in and your shoulders relaxed, push weights upward, straightening your arms overhead. Next, lower your arms back to the starting position.
Incline Biceps Curls (arms)
Sit on a bench or sturdy chair with a dumbbell in each hand and your arms at your sides (keep palms facing inward). First, bend arms at the elbow, curling both dumbbells upward until they reach your bicep. Next, slowly return to the starting position.
Give it a try
If you’re ready to slim down for the summer months, it’s time to give weight training a try. Just remember to check with your doctor first, and always warm up before your workout and be sure to stay hydrated.