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

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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.