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Health and Fitness Column: How to start transforming for summer 

By Melissa Vogel  
Health and Fitness Columnist, Canyon Lake Insider 

Spring is upon us. The sun is shining, the weather is changing, and it’s almost bathing suit time here in Southern California. This also means many people are becoming more aware of a few changes that need to be made to their overall health, fitness, and waistline.

Over the next several weeks, I will be sharing some tips and pointers on how you can start to make some real changes that can drastically change your overall health and appearance. This week, we will dive into resistance training and weightlifting as it has been one of the major factors helping me live a healthier and stronger life. 

Lifting heavier weights has drastically changed my overall physique. I’ve always enjoyed working out, staying active, and weight training. Well, I thought I was weight training. I would go into the weight room after I taught a class or finished my cardio exercise, pick a couple of muscle groups to work on, do a few sets until I “felt the burn,” and then call it good. I figured that since the exercises hurt, that was all I needed to do.

What I didn’t realize was that although I was burning calories and working my muscles, I wasn’t doing nearly enough good muscle damage to my tissue and fibers to make them grow. Don’t get me wrong, I would feel tired when I was done with my workouts, but never to the point where I felt I was truly making gains. 

It is important to learn that in order to tear, repair, and build the muscle to the extent to which it will grow, you need to lift “heavy” weights several days a week. I personally now engage in heavy weight training sessions five to six days a week. I strive to push myself with my lifting load and really challenge the muscle group I’m focusing on. Cardio workouts are still beneficial throughout the week, but I have found that the key to fitness success is weight training. Rip the muscle, repair the muscle, repeat. 

Now, when I leave the weight room, it is usually a challenge to walk out the door or to carry my water bottle. Also, it is important to keep in mind that what is considered heavy weight to one person might not feel heavy to another or vice versa. Either way, it is important to push yourself beyond your comfort level and make the muscle burn during each training session. Every workout should leave you feeling fatigued, swollen, and downright spent!

When you weight train, your sessions should include either high volume repetitions or heavy resistance. If you don’t have access to heavy weights or equipment, it is essential to complete high-volume repetitions. While still maintaining proper form and alignment, each set should take you to the point of failure and pure exhaustion.

If you have weight equipment at home or have a gym membership, use them to its fullest potential. Be sure to select a heavy enough weight where eight to 10 repetitions for four to five sets takes that muscle to failure. This means you couldn’t possibly complete one more set with proper form.

As I mentioned before, every repetition and set must be completed with appropriate technique and alignment. Ten bicep curls that are performed with an arched back and swinging shoulders do not build muscle. It only distributes the load of the exercise and sets you up for injury. So start to increase your weight load, stay safe, and remain focused on your goals! 

Photo provided by Melissa Vogel.

Melissa Vogel is a fitness expert with more than 20 years of experience in the health and wellness industry. She is a fitness trainer, host of the Bomb Mom Podcast, a keynote speaker, model, actress, second-degree black belt in Taekwondo, and mother of three daughters. For more information, visit www.melissavogelfitness.com.

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