Sportsbarn’s Don Bowman chatted with us about incorporating weights – without bulking up.
HS: Why is it important to incorporate weights into your workouts?
DB: Weight-bearing movements enable you to increase not only muscle density, but also bone density. Weight resistance is what actually volumizes muscle tissues and fibers. Plus, using weights will speed up your metabolic rate more than doing a cardio workout alone. A cardio workout exercises your heart, but just for a moment. When you work with weights and resistance, you exert more energy.
HS: What are some of the cons of only doing cardio training?
DB: Without weight resistance, you may be doing cardio and burning calories, but you’re missing one of the best components of exercise. Also, if you’re walking or running on pavement that isn’t supportive of your skeletal system for your cardio workout, you’re putting a lot of wear and tear on your body.
Because lifting weights can increase your bone density, lifting weights early in life helps prevent osteoporosis later.
HS: People, women in particular, sometimes avoid weightlifting because they don’t want to become “bulky.” What are some ways to avoid the bulky look, but still incorporate weight training into your workouts?
DB: That’s a good question. Women have a tendency to think that, and it’s a misconception. What you’re looking for is a conditioned, athletic physique. What happens when you weight train is the muscle becomes denser. It doesn’t become bigger – it becomes more developed. However, when men and women who have an increased ability to develop body fat get more developed and firm, the fat tends to be on the outer layer of the muscle. This can become an optical illusion. It’s a temporary stage, and people can become discouraged when thinking of only body image instead of overall conditioning. What body fat they have seems to be bulking out, but as that muscle becomes more developed they actually show leaner muscle and density. Don’t become discouraged. You’ll have more success if you integrate weight resistance with a cardio workout. That’s the number one way to change your structure and physique.
Women and men have a different genetic makeup for fitness conditioning. It’s difficult for women to achieve massive muscles unless specifically training for that. So don’t let the fear of them keep you from lifting. It’s more likely that you’ll acquire a lean, defined physique.
HS: What are some simple ways beginners can start incorporating weights into their cardio workout?
DB: For those who like to walk, it can be as easy as adding dumbbell and kettlebell weights to your hands as you’re walking. You could also do weight-bearing or body weight resistance movements. Using your own body weight is the simplest thing you can do outside of a fitness arena with multiple resources. When you’re at a facility like Sportsbarn you can use everything from barbells and dumbbells to kettle bells, or even traditional selectorized weight equipment. Or again, even your own body weight.
Don’t forget to combine cardio with your weight training. While some of the benefits overlap, others are specific to each type. Cardio exercises can reduce high blood pressure and help to alleviate stress.