The Secrets of Success: Don't Skimp on Strength Training

2SHARES

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
3/2/2010 6:05 AM   :  134 comments   :  46,658 Views

When we were researching and writing our best-selling book, "The Spark," we discovered 27 secrets of success that thousands of successful SparkPeople members have used to reach their goals, lose weight and keep it off. Some secrets—including these—are too good to keep to yourself. We're sharing our 15 favorite secrets of success on the dailySpark from March 1-15.

Secret #2: Go for strength.
Successful members were twice as likely to do regular strength training. So why does it really make a difference?

Aside from helping build and maintain a strong and healthy body, these members also know that with more muscle, their bodies will regularly burn more calories, even when they're sleeping.

Too often, people focus on cardio (aerobic) exercise for weight loss. Sure, cardio is very important for burning calories and body fat and helping you increase your fitness level. But don't overlook the power of strength training. Why? For one, it really helps you reshape your body and achieve that tight, toned look you're aiming for. When you look better, you'll feel more confident and be more likely to stick with your weight-loss program since you're seeing your body change in a positive way. Strength training also helps you do better at your cardio workouts—and in your everyday life. You'll feel better, look better, and perform better at everything you try as a result, and that is going to lead you to greater successes.

When I was on my own weight-loss journey, strength training was a big part of my workout plans. I lifted weights 5-6 days a week (separating it out to do different body areas each day so that I was resting appropriately). The feeling of building strength, noticing that I was getting stronger (and lifting heavier weights) was really empowering to me. Even if my pant size wasn't dropping, I was still ticking my way up on the weight stack, and that felt like progress to me—something that made me want to stick with it, no matter what the scale said.

Luckily, SparkPeople makes it easy to start a strength-training program. Our free Fitness Tracker can give you a unique program based on the equipment you have available—even if you don't have any weights at home. You can also use the following resources to add strength training to your workout plan.
  • Workout Generator. This is a fun little tool that helps you find the right workout for you out of hundreds of workouts designed by our certified personal trainers. Give it a shot!
  • Reference Guide to Strength Training. This article contains everything you need to know about strength training safely and effectively to reach your goals: how much weight to lift, how many reps and sets to do, how often to rest. If you have a question, the answer is here.
  • Our Video Library. We offer more than 40 different workout videos you can follow at home. The vast majority of these are strength-training workouts, and each tells you which muscles you're working along with other safety precautions and tips.
  • My "Fit, Firm and Fired Up" Workout DVD. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the exercise DVD I designed that incorporates all of these secrets of success into one workout plan. It makes strength training a no-brainer with easy to follow workouts and tons of variety. Since each workout is just 10 minutes, it's something you can do no matter how busy you are!
How about you: Is strength training one of your secrets, too? How has it helped you lose weight, tone up or reach your goals? Tell us about it below!

Did you miss a secret? Find all the rest of the series of 15 here (a new one is posted every day through March 15). For all 27 secrets and to learn how to fit them into your life, read "The Spark."


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Comments

  • MRSCERATO
    134
    I am not the biggest fan of cardio. I try to always switch it up and use different machines each time. Strength training though, is my favorite. I love how I feel afterwards. - 5/14/2010   4:48:08 PM
  • 133
    I love doing strength training. I train 4x's a week and cardio 6-7 days a week. - 4/14/2010   12:08:12 PM
  • 132
    i love strength training, and i've been noticing some great results. the results give me encouragement to do more! - 3/29/2010   7:24:57 AM
  • 131
    I could never enjoy just doing cardio. Weight training is great for musle defintion and strength. Love it! - 3/27/2010   9:02:49 AM
  • PACKERBACKER12
    130
    Strength training should be an intricate part of anyone's fitness routine, just like aerobic exercise and flexibility training. Numerous weight loss studies from across the world have shown that lean body mass is maintained as you lose weight if you weight train. What I would like to see is SparkPeople give you credit for the effort like the cardio components. - 3/16/2010   9:58:52 PM
  • 129
    I love strength training! I don't find it boring at all -- I only have to spend a few minutes doing each exercise, so if I hate it, I'll soon be moving on to one I like. In fact, I find it more interesting than cardio. And I feel so strong and powerful lifting those weights! I always feel like some kind of superhero, even though I'm not lifting very large weights yet.

    Especially for the ladies: Don't feel intimidated about going into the weight room. I was intimidated at first, since I go to a university gym with a bunch of athletic guys, but I went with another female friend, and found out that no one was watching or judging me -- no one was even looking at me. They were all totally focused on their own workouts. Just do it! (It helps if you can go at a less crowded time, but even at more crowded times, no one is staring at you.)

    And ladies, don't be afraid to lift heavier weights -- you won't bulk up, I promise (unless you're taking testosterone or steroids). Aim for weights you can lift 8-12 times per set. You'll build muscle more efficiently that way. You won't look bulky -- you'll gain muscle definition and look lean and toned. - 3/15/2010   8:27:30 AM
  • NEED2LOSE45
    128
    I have started strengh training. More for the fact that I have back and neck issues and it affects the muscles. I figure if I can get things strengthened I may not have as many issues. That is my hope anyway. My other reason is that everything started going south.....and loose skin was a real issue when I lost weight before. I wanted to do the strength exercises to help keep that in check...Currently I'm only doing it 3-4 times a week. Every other day because I need the day in between for the muscles to basically heal from the workout. (I'm usually very sore the next day)... - 3/14/2010   12:31:01 PM
  • 127
    We have an awesome workout class at my work gym that incorporates cardio with strength training. I def feel my body getting stronger. - 3/9/2010   3:12:57 PM
  • 126
    I FOUND MY ARMS ARE GETTING BIGGER THANKS TO STRENGTH TRAINING - 3/9/2010   11:16:27 AM
  • 125
    I read Jim Karas' book, The Cardio-Free Diet (don't snub -it's not exactly as it seems - cardio IS involved), and since then have been enjoying strength training and seeing results like never before. He helped Diane Sawyer and Hugh Jackman get in the best shape of their lives. - 3/9/2010   9:34:24 AM
  • 124
    Strength training is important...very senior center offers a class...why wait till then? - 3/7/2010   6:09:38 AM
  • USFGIRL86
    123
    I love strength training and have always been doing it in conjunction with my cardio workouts. While training for my 5k my focus will not only be on my runs but also on building my core and legs, two important parts of the body that will determine my endurance, stamina, and strength and ability to run longer and harder. Eventually, I'll be able to easily run the entire 3 miles, which is my goal! - 3/6/2010   4:19:01 PM
  • 122
    Recently changed my routine to a more strength based program (mid-December time frame) and have been eating more, exercising less, getting more results, and getting these results faster! I love it. For a long time I knew that it would work out that way, but I love to run so it is hard to switch focus. I will be adding running back in soon but strength training is the way to go if you want to change your body. Good Luck all!! - 3/6/2010   12:23:14 PM
  • 121
    Today I went to my strength training class which I have missed for a few weeks.... I've been doing strength training all along with SP, so was still keeping up with it. Everyone helps each other clean up and put the weights and bands and chairs away after class and a woman was helping gather my weights and said "Melissa, you use 10 pound weights?" I answered yes, with pride b/c I started out with 2 pound weights! She was uber impressed and it made me feel so proud! - 3/4/2010   11:03:27 PM
  • SILVERNITA
    120
    thank you all for all you wonderful encouragement.......i do exercies at least four days a week... i use weight and i use the bigest loser video tapes....... i really enjoy exerciseing.... sometime when you tell yiurself you dont fell like exercising and then when you do it it really feels good/.......the only thing i8m worried about is when the weight comes off will the fat hang i pray it dosent....... amen - 3/4/2010   9:38:51 PM
  • RCBLUM
    119
    I have always believed the calorie in, calorie out theory. I have never been a big fan of strength training however I do try to do it three times a week. I have been told that you should mix up your routine often or you muscles will get used to the training and will not respond as quickly. Is this true? How often should you change your routine? Where do you find full routines? - 3/4/2010   5:17:15 PM
  • 118
    I lift weights 6-7 days a week. Switching body parts,
    routines, and muscle groups everyday. This keeps my
    muscles guessing. I lift heavy and light and usually use
    free weights. I Love the way it makes my body look and feel. - 3/4/2010   4:18:04 PM
  • 117
    Okay, you've convinced me. I started combining cardio with strength.

    I am so SORE, but I know it will go away soon. ;-) - 3/4/2010   3:30:39 PM
  • 116
    My routine involves equal amounts of strength training and cardio. I used to do Pilates, however haven't done it in a few months. Pilates requires a lot of core strength and works the core like nothing else.

    I see more muscle definition than I did. It's a little bit hard for me to tell if I've improved though, because I'm just someone who for some reason has a lot of natural definition. Call me blessed! - 3/4/2010   12:25:56 PM
  • 115
    When I joined Sparkpeople a year ago, I couldn't really see the point of weight training. It all hurt! It was boring. I didn't really believe it would make a difference.
    I've changed a lot in a year.
    For the first half, I just concentrated on logging my nutrition, and put down walking the dog and the time I spend in the water at work as my cardio.
    After7 months, I stopped smoking and gained some of the weight I'd lost.
    It was really hard to shift, so I began doing the cardio videos and some of the strength training.
    The weight started to shift- slowly. But the inches really dropped.
    I joined the Couch to 5K team, and became really grateful for my improved core strength. I can hold myself well whilst I learn to run.
    I still have about 5lb to lose, but my waist is smaller than it has been since I was in my teens, and yesterday I actually managed to jog for 20 minutes, and be ok afterwards.
    These small steps really work. Everytime I have followed what is suggested on Sparkpages, it has paid dividends. I can't believe the progress I have made.
    And, as a bonus, I have made some lovely friends, and really enjoy being part of the Spark Community.
    Thanks guys. - 3/4/2010   6:50:07 AM
  • MYRACCOON
    114
    Trying the Spark People recommended strength training. Will see how it goes. - 3/4/2010   12:43:30 AM
  • 113
    I began strengh training in 2006 and have been loving it since. I feel strong, stable and confident. It is a thing I do just for myself. - 3/3/2010   10:24:48 PM
  • K_RENEE
    112
    I'm slowly starting my weights routine. It's challenging, but I like the challenge! - 3/3/2010   10:04:21 PM
  • ALICOTTER
    111
    I love weights. I lose all track of time when I do weights at the gym. Love the challenge of doing more reps or heavier weights. I can now bench press 95 lbs and the lightest hand weights I use is 15. I can see the difference as my body firms up. - 3/3/2010   7:27:51 PM
  • 110
    I have always had strength training in my exercise routine. It makes a huge difference. - 3/3/2010   6:56:23 PM
  • RKIAJDR
    109
    What has really helped me stick with strength training is using Get Ripped DVDs. Website is www.rippedworkout.ca if anyone is interested in checking them out. - 3/3/2010   5:18:01 PM
  • 108
    I really dislike strength training, and I never did it regularly before joining SP. I make an effort now to do two or three days of strength training a week at home. No big machines, just a few dumbells and a stability ball. It's so much less offensive than I ever thought it would be. Totally doable, not too painful, and I feel great afterward. I've always had strong legs from running and ballet, but I've never in my life had definition of any kind in my arms, and I'm starting to see just a little bit now. I'm looking forward to seeing where all this will take me. - 3/3/2010   3:07:44 PM
  • 107
    I like the kettle works dvd's. 3 times a week. Thanks for sharing the information! - 3/3/2010   2:50:05 PM
  • 106
    Strength training has been an integral part of my fitness program for a while now but, now and again I start to ease off wondering about the importance of it all. This was an excellent article...a refresher to remind me just how. I have noticed that I am stronger and more "lean" looking, regardless of what the scale says. - 3/3/2010   2:31:24 PM
  • 105
    I do strength without weights now. I think i will start adding weights. - 3/3/2010   1:57:57 PM
  • RLMCCUE
    104
    Strength training is a big part of my workouts, and I really like working out on the weight machines. I have noticed a positive change in my body composition, even without dropping pounds. Last time I measured I had dropped an inch from my waist and hips, and clothes were fitting better. That really boosted my self confidence and helps me to push myself to work harder at my strength training. - 3/3/2010   1:25:07 PM
  • 103
    Strength training has been an integral part of my lifestyle change for the last three years. When I decided I needed to lose, I didn't really think about strength. Yes, I knew that doing push ups and hitting the weight room would be good for me, but I really didn't understand the impact it would have.

    So, when I started my journey, I did significantly more cardio than strength. I wish I had started strength training sooner. I LOVE having lean muscle !! I still have a lot to learn, but I am thrilled with the results I've received because I strength train. I do have some decent definition. Of course, I make it a point to eat right too. ;)

    Today, I do about equal amounts of cardio and strength. I also have been doing yoga. People think yoga is just about becoming more flexible. that's a total misconception. Many many yoga poses require quite a bit of strength as well as muscular stamina. This is something I'd also like to increase i.e. my stamina. That's going to take time. Some of those poses are very challenging.

    As far as my body, well people keep telling me I don't look my age. A person can't get enough of those kinds of comments !

    - 3/3/2010   12:36:14 PM
  • MYRACCOON
    102
    Even though I dislike strength training, I try to squeeze in a few minutes at the gym after basketball. - 3/3/2010   10:43:15 AM
  • 101
    I strength train 3 times a week with my Bowflex Extrem 2SE, I LOVE IT!!!
    My body is sure showing it loves it too!! - 3/3/2010   10:19:46 AM
  • 100
    I work with a personal trainer twice/wk. I do that partly because I wouldn't push myself on the strength training nearly as hard as she does and because she really watches my form to make sure I don't overdo it or hurt myself. On cardio she also pushes me, more to get me heart healthy than to just burn calories. Between the two I am losing weight as well as getting toned. - 3/3/2010   10:14:01 AM
  • 99
    I think i should take bodypump more often now.
    i do cardio a little bit more then bodypump( a weightlifting class)
    and maybe doing some free weights also would
    probably help me as well. - 3/3/2010   8:45:58 AM
  • 98
    I do strength training 3 days a week, cardio 3 days a week (the days I am not doing strength training) and on sundays I do all the fun games in wii fit plus! :)
    Even though my scale may not tell me that I am losing weight as fast as I would like, I know it is because I am putting on muscle and my clothes fit SO much better than just diet/cardio would! - 3/3/2010   8:29:12 AM
  • OBURGMOM
    97
    never bothered much with strength training but after reading all of the benefits, I bought the "fit, firm and fired up dvd" 10 minutes a day is very doable. Plan to do a workout almost every day. - 3/3/2010   8:15:16 AM
  • 96
    I do strength training everyday, it is a light routine, with small weights, but I feel it is beneficial to my body! - 3/3/2010   7:45:06 AM
  • JUHOEG
    95
    Do it three times a week - 3/3/2010   7:10:24 AM
  • 94
    For the first time in my life, I started to seriously strength train w/ SP. Still didn't like it until I used the bootcamp approach - now I do 1-2 of the various bootcamp or Coach Nicole's dvd videos daily. LOVE them and love what they do for my shape. - 3/3/2010   6:18:12 AM
  • 93
    I love the way I feel when strength training on a regular basis. I'm 47 and trying to regain the body I had at 43-44 (I've really let myself go these past 18 months; shame on me!). I was in great shape, 15 inches (overall) smaller than I am now but weighed the same. I don't focus too much on the scale; when building muscle, I know I will lose fat (inches) but fewer pounds. Thanks for the great article! - 3/3/2010   5:28:29 AM
  • ATULGARG2
    92
    Muscle building has helped me for sure in toning and sharpening my body. I do the cardio every day in order to burn more calories. But I am experiencing the reverse phenomena, my waist is reducing but weight is reducing extremely slow. May be I am eating too many calries without really accounting those for. - 3/3/2010   1:39:07 AM
  • 91
    six years ago an infection in my neck compressed my spinal cord and i was paralyzed from the neck down for awhile. emergency surgery, hospitalization and therapy helped me return over 80% of my life including my ability to resume dental practice.

    after i was sent from my therapy, i joined a ymca and began some fitness/strength training. when i began, i nearly fell off an elliptical trainer after 4 minutes and worked up to over 25 minutes and being able to walk a half mile on the walking track. using machines i went from pressing 40 lbs to over 110 lbs. sadly, i fell into the habit of going less and less, even let my y membership lapse for 13 months. in january i joined a new gym (minimal-$20- registration and 1/2 the monthly fee) and so far have gotten up to 15 minutes on the elliptical trainer snd am back up to 80lbs on the chest press.

    i joined sparkpeople back in january and am enthusiastic seeing a 8-lb weight loss so far with 3x fitness sessions a week. cardio and strength trainin make sense as part of this program. yayyyyy! - 3/2/2010   11:19:29 PM
  • 90
    I strength train 2 to 3 x per week for 20 to 30 minutes each session. I have been doing this for years. On occasion when life really gets in my way and I have to forgo the ST I can really tell the difference and get back at it as soon as I can. - 3/2/2010   10:30:29 PM
  • SERPENTINE
    89
    yes! I've found that I can cut back on cardio -- by about an hour and a half -- and get fantastic results just with strength training. Lift hard, lift heavy, rest, and watch the fat drip off! - 3/2/2010   10:16:43 PM
  • 88
    I am not strenth training, as of yet. I know that it is important, but I am a little afraid because everytime I make an effort I hurt myself. I also have Rhuematoid Arthritis and the winter months are harder. Therefore, I've been sticking to water aerobics and swimming. Nevertheless, I have hope that I will eventually be able to strength train. - 3/2/2010   10:15:14 PM
  • 87
    I love the way my arms are looking after only two months of strength training. I'm going to keep it up. - 3/2/2010   10:06:42 PM
  • 86
    Been doing strength training, does make a difference. was doing 3 days now only 2 need to get back to 3 :) - 3/2/2010   7:45:02 PM
  • 85
    I need to incorporate more strength training into my routine. It just seems that when I finish with the treadmill I am just too pooped to do anything else. Shame on me. - 3/2/2010   7:43:22 PM

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