Hit the ground running…and lifting


by Jeff Howerton

Now that the holidays are over and the Tupperware leftovers have either been eaten or thrown out, we’re ready to right our holiday eating wrongs through exercise-repentance. We walk. We run. We even diet to make up for all the parties and feasts we’ve enjoyed. And, though we’re quite disciplined at first with our new regimens, we soon lose interest and fall back into less healthy routines.

For most, discouragement sets in as we push ourselves but fail to see progress. The lack of results is not necessarily due to what we’re doing, but rather what we’re NOT doing. Cardiovascular exercise provides excellent benefits to the body beyond the high calorie burn. It’s also a great idea to watch dietary caloric intake; too much food will always pile up in fat stores. Those two factors are necessary for any fitness plan. However, there is a crucial missing ingredient that can make or break your exercise strategy.

Resistance Training

Resistance training is largely inclusive, involving exercises utilizing free weights, tubing, bodyweight, medicine balls and weight machines. This form of bodywork is based on the concept of overload. Repetitions and sets are performed at a resistance that takes the exerciser to failure (when the movement can’t be continued). That failure may be after 15, 10, 6, or 2 repetitions, depending on the particular need of the exerciser.

Now, what does that mean? Working to failure challenges the muscle tissue, thereby breaking it down and allowing it to repair stronger. As the tissue repairs, it takes on greater metabolic potential, meaning it will burn more calories to exist. When we exercise or go to work or even watch television, our bodies are burning calories relative to our metabolic potential. The more lean muscle we maintain, the more calories we burn in order to support that muscle.

Popular resistance exercises include squats, push ups and rows. Note: When working with resistance exercise, additional weight is added and duration of the activity is limited; proper form is crucial so that you we achieve the most benefit and the least chance of injury.

Invest in your body’s muscle and let it help you stay lean and healthy.  

Jeff Howerton is a trainer and owner of LEAN personal training. He and his trainers work with clients to lose fat, develop lean muscle and implement strategies for healthier living. LEAN can be reached at (615) 279-1900 or [email protected].