Karl Henry... Don't get weighed down by lifting myths
There are many misconceptions about weight-training, says our fitness expert, but a little research and dedication will transform any body type for the better
At a recent conference on health, I received a question from the audience on weight training. The person was walking and running several times each week, their food was clean and healthy, they were getting okay results and wanted to know how to improve the results. Of the audience, 70pc did cardiovascular work, and just 10pc did weights. This would be a normal representation of the groups that I see.
My answer to the question was pretty simple: to get better results you need to start doing some weight-bearing exercise in conjunction with all of your other training.
Weight-bearing exercise can scare people yet it is the most beneficial form of exercise that you can do in terms of all the benefits that come with getting healthier. From keeping age-related illnesses at bay, to getting more toned, to having more energy to pretty much everything.
Yet we don't do enough of it as a nation; 10pc of all the groups I talk to do resistance training. When people think of weights, they picture a body builder or bulked-up athlete lifting large heavy weights. They think that by lifting a weight, they will look the same. This couldn't be further from the truth.Especially for the normal person, who wants to lead a normal life. But regardless, this image stops people in their tracks.
So today, I wanted to take a look at some of the most common reasons people don't lift weights and dispel the myths. I want to get you doing resistance training and don't worry, I'm not talking about necessarily joining a gym. Doing a movement using your own body is just as effective and it is free too, which is the best part of all.
Reasons people don't do weights:
Fear: Yes it can be scary. There are so many images and videos of people doing weights, gyms can be incredibly intimidating and people who are fit can be intimidating too. But the reality is that anyone who owns or works in a gym or fitness centre, just want to help you. They are enthusiastic and once you ask for help you will get plenty of it. Once you make the initial move and overcome your fears, you will see it isn't as scary as you thought, you will become more comfortable with the movements and when you start to see the benefits in your clothes and in terms of how you feel, you will wonder why you didn't start sooner.
It's too expensive: Cost is a very valid barrier to exercise. Personal trainers can be expensive, gyms and classes cost money too. You can go that route, you will get great service, knowledge and guidance to help you get the results you are looking for. If you aren't getting any of the above, then change business. But don't worry, it doesn't have to be expensive or cost money. By using YouTube you will gain access to thousands of personal trainers, simply find one that you like, search for the type of routine you are looking for and off you go. You can also use the operation transformation website, rte.ie/ot ,where you will find a body type that looks similar to your own on the homepage and then you have video exercise and food routines to follow for eight weeks, all free. Who said getting fit needs to cost money?
Lack of knowledge: There are so many movements, so many things to remember, where to start? The knowledge aspect to training can stop so many from getting fit. But once you begin to do resistance exercise, you learn all the time. The basic exercises such as squats, lunges, press-ups and tricep dips are all great to start. Then as you become more comfortable, you can add in new exercises. You can make them more difficult. You can challenge yourself more by adding in more reps or sets. By seeing new exercises in magazines and newspapers you can addd them into your routine. The hardest part is starting, and once you begin it will all get easier, no doubt about it.
But I am slim - I don't need to: We all have different body types. Some are naturally slim with a fast metabolism. But this doesn't mean that you're healthy at all - by lulling yourself into a false sense of security, you are at a high risk of health problems and issues. You need to get exercising, get slightly out of breath and start doing resistance work. People that look slim often have a high percentage of visceral fat - the most dangerous type of fat that surrounds and smothers your organs, but you can't see it. Exercise and resistance exercise is one of the best ways to improve and change it.
The key message from today's column is to not be afraid of resistance training, try it, take it slow to start and become comfortable with the movements, then you can try new exercises and push yourself a little harder. Face your fear, and go for it.