The dramatic contrast between what equipment is used in a gym or fitness center by each gender is readily apparent. In general, women gravitate to aerobic machines like the treadmill, bicycle or elliptical with the goal of losing weight, while men prefer lifting weights to increase muscle bulk.
Unfortunately, neither approach alone is correct. Muscle burns more calories than fat, so it is easier to maintain a healthy weight by increasing muscle mass. Muscle bulk alone places added stress on the heart and lungs resulting in poor athletic performance.
Once adequate stretching and aerobic regimens are established, it is time to incorporate resistance training. Best defined as the use of resistance against the force of muscular contraction, resistance training can be implemented through the use of elastic bands, hydraulic cylinders or weights.
Gradually increasing the resistive force on specific muscles will increase strength as well as bone mass. Strength workouts are measured by the number of repetitions of each movement and the number of sets of each exercise.
“I encourage the use of low-weight dumbbells for three sets of 20-30 repetitions first, then moving on to a machine-based workout with more weight and 12-15 repetitions,” said Marc Nee, a local personal trainer and owner of Training with Heart. “The next step is to combine weights and the use of a physio ball for balance.”
One method of combining an aerobic and resistive workout is the use of a weight vest when walking. Weight vests can be worn comfortably with varying amounts of weight added. This will add core muscle strength allowing for a natural walking motion. Ankle and wrist weights poorly distribute added weight and can cause excess strain on an extremity.
Establishing a basic workout regimen that includes stretching, aerobic and resistive components is crucial before moving on to sport-specific programs in preparation for spring sports.