I would like to get in shape without losing weight. I’m currently at the weight I want to be. How can I start lifting weights and getting in shape without losing any pounds?
Unless you are training for a specific sport or upcoming event requiring certain weight classes, it’s best to not focus on scale-weight. Focusing too much on scale-weight can deter you from reaching your goals in a timely manner. When we imagine how we want to look physically it’s usually a visual of ourselves and not the numbers on a scale. The same goes for others when they see a physical change in you. They imagine what you looked like prior to your transformation and not numbers on a scale.
It’s important to be open to the possibility of unwanted weight gain or loss during an exercise program. Try replacing the scale with a mirror. The mirror is the telltale sign to what is going on with your physical appearance and can be a great motivator if you are on the right track. Positive feedback from friends and family is also a great motivator.
There are many factors to consider when starting an exercise program. If you are pleased with your current weight but have not been consistent with exercising or eating healthy, chances are your body fat percentage may be high. That being said, weight loss usually takes place when losing excess body fat. The key to putting the weight back on is to build lean muscle mass. Remember that muscle is more dense than fat, therefore it takes up less space pound for pound. This is the reason why your clothes fit looser when you gain 5 pounds of muscle and lose 5 pounds of fat. You actually weigh the same amount but the big difference is you have less mass on your body since muscle takes up less space than fat does. The more muscle you gain, the more fat you lose and the leaner you become.
The ideal exercise regimen for achieving and maintaining a healthy body requires two or three days a week of strength training to keep your muscles and bones strong and three to five days a week of cardio to keep your cardiorespiratory system oxygenated properly.
Because you do not want to lose any weight or gain any weight, keep your cardio sessions at a moderate intensity level. A brisk walk or bike ride should be enough. Strength training should also be done at a moderate intensity level using various training techniques to promote continuous muscle growth. The muscle growth exercises are not for bulk but for toning. Strength training for toning involves using light to moderate weights. Resistance bands and nautilus machines can also be used for toning muscles. Higher repetitions should be performed at a slow and controlled tempo. Below is a sample full body exercise program to get you started.
Dumbbells will be used for this particular workout. Because the reps are high, you don’t want to use a very heavy weight. Use a weight that gets challenging on the last 5 reps. Make sure to concentrate on each muscle that is being worked and remember to keep the tempo slow. Lifting weights at a fast pace can cause injury. Breathing technique is also very important. Always exhale when squeezing the muscle being worked. This allows for oxygen to flow properly to and from the muscle.
Full Body Workout (Monday, Wednesday, Friday)
Perform 15 repetitions for each exercise. Rest for 1 minute to 2 minutes and repeat 2 more times.
- Incline Chest Press
- Walking Lunges
- Bent Over Back Rows
- Alternating Bicep Curls
- Overhead Triceps Extensions
- Shoulder Press
- Calf Raises
Moderate cardio can be done on the opposite days or after your workout. Be sure to stretch for at least 5 to 10 minutes after each workout. This releases a lot of lactic acid that builds up in the muscles during a workout. It also helps lessen the soreness that may occur a day or two after a workout session.
The above workout should only be done for six weeks. It is best to switch up all exercise programs periodically. The body gets used to the same workout day in and day out. This not only hinders muscle growth and endurance progression but it also puts the body at risk for injury.
It’s like never changing the tires on your car. The tires will still assist in moving the car but eventually they will lose tread that can lead to serious damage to the car.
You will find that after the first six week program is complete, your strength and endurance will increase quite a bit. This will require a more challenging exercise program for the next 6 weeks. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to start lifting very heavy weights or intensifying your cardio to the extreme. It simply means that you need to introduce new workouts for the each body part and add a few hills into your brisk walks.
Because combining strength training and cardio may still promote weight loss, meal planning is very important. Keep your carbohydrate intake higher than your protein and fat intake.
There is an ongoing myth claiming that in order to lose weight, keep from gaining weight, and gain quality muscle you need to stop consuming carbohydrates and eat more protein. This myth is less than half true. Healthy carbohydrates give you the energy your body needs to function each day and also helps you achieve a more productive workout. They digest rather easily and quickly making the digestion process less stressful on the body.
There are two types of carbs. Simple carbs are those made up of refined sugars and white and enriched flour. Candies, cookies, and cakes are a good example of these simple carbs. They are absorbed into the bloodstream very quickly causing blood sugar levels to rise and fall rapidly.
The healthy carbs you want to consume for long-term energy should be made of whole grains (quinoa, spelt, millet, oats), potatoes, rice (black, wild, red, brown), whole grain pastas, and beans. Make sure you also consume plenty of fibrous carbs such as leafy vegetables, squash, and fruit to name a few. The desired amount per serving should be the size of your fist. Healthy carbs should be consumed every 2 to 3 hours.
Limit your protein consumption to very lean meats such as chicken or turkey breast, 90% ground beef, eye round steaks, and eggs. Dairy products are also made up of proteins but you do not want to rely solely on them for your daily intake needs because of the sugar, fat and sodium contents in them.
Fats should be predominately unsaturated. Unsaturated fats are usually kept at room temperature and they help lower cholesterol. Olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, and nuts are a great source of these types of fat.
Calorie counting is not necessary but is an option. If you feel counting calories will help you stick with your game plan, be sure to measure out all of your food before consuming it. This is the most accurate way to get the correct amount of your daily calories.
Not everyone’s body will respond to the same exercise and nutrition regimen. It usually takes 21 days for the body to adjust to these changes. It’s all trial and error. Only you know your body. Listen to what it has to say. Adjust workouts and meal planning as needed and you will be on your way to a healthier and happier you!