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.

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CATE195 8/1/2020
I used to strength train 3 times a week but thanks to the Jumpstart your Workout Challenge I now do it 6 days a week with a gentle yoga on the 7th day. I have substituted other exercises in the same group but still follow the basic guidelines of the challenge. Report
VHAYES04 7/23/2020
Ty Report
CECELW 7/20/2020
I strength train 2- 3 times a week Report
JANIEWWJD 6/2/2020
I love doing kettle bells!!!! Report
NELLJONES 5/2/2020
Thanks. Report
SPINECCO 4/27/2020
Thanks for the information. Report
PATRICIAAK 4/10/2020
:) Report
AQUAGIRL08 3/24/2020
I need to work more on weight training. Thank you! Report
Through this program I've come to enjoy fixed resistant training. Report
PATRICIAAK 1/23/2020
:) Report
CECELW 12/8/2019
I turned 60 years old this year. I was in my 20's when I started strength training. I am just a bit more organized now that i'm older. Strength is very important as we age. I'm really glad I started strength training and exercising in my younger years. Starting out now...I doubt i'd be as consistent Report
ILOVEROSES 11/5/2019
Thanks Report
great article Report
thanks for sharing Report
Great Article Report
Absolutely great Report
Some great information Report
I work at getting in my strength training early in the day. Why? My clothes fit better, I look better and I burn more calories during the day. Report
Absolutely great Report
I actually plan on my schedule for my weight training and I can feel myself getting stronger. Report
Toned is better. Report
great blog thank you Report
Thank you, Sparks for all of your great help! Report
Great information! Report
There is lots of great information here that I didn't know Report
this is just as true today as it was 7 yrs. ago Report
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. Report
I love doing strength training. I train 4x's a week and cardio 6-7 days a week. Report
i love strength training, and i've been noticing some great results. the results give me encouragement to do more! Report
I could never enjoy just doing cardio. Weight training is great for musle defintion and strength. Love it! Report
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. Report
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. Report
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)... Report
We have an awesome workout class at my work gym that incorporates cardio with strength training. I def feel my body getting stronger. Report
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. Report
Strength training is important...very senior center offers a class...why wait till then? Report
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! Report
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!! Report
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! Report
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 Report
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? Report
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. Report
Okay, you've convinced me. I started combining cardio with strength.

I am so SORE, but I know it will go away soon. ;-) Report
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! Report
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. Report
Trying the Spark People recommended strength training. Will see how it goes. Report
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. Report
I'm slowly starting my weights routine. It's challenging, but I like the challenge! Report
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. Report