A good weight training regimen hits all the major muscle groups to ensure that you equally develop strength, power and endurance. These elements give your muscles the ability to perform quickly and efficiently, while also preventing the loss of muscle tissue that occurs naturally through aging and disuse. And, for anyone trying to lose weight or maintain weight loss, strength training is indispensable—nothing does a better job of reshaping your body and helping to keep your metabolism in high gear.
Here's a good progression for both beginners and experienced exercisers to follow:
Begin with one or two sets per exercise, 8 to 10 repetitions per set, three times per week. Take no more than 15 to 30 seconds in between sets. You may find you can't make 8 to 10 reps in the second set, but that's okay. It's evidence you're working hard enough in the first set to produce changes in your muscles, and as your strength improves, you'll eventually make the reps.
After about four weeks, reassess. If you're making all your sets easily, add another. Also check your weights. Are they heavy enough?
Keep reassessing every four to six weeks. When you're ready for a new challenge, add another day. Your ultimate goal is three sets of each exercise, 8 to 10 reps per set, every other day.
If weight lifting sounds technical or daunting, don't let it fool you. It can be simple fast—about 20 minutes. That's little time to invest for what will be a huge pay off.
Printed from Oprah.com on Tuesday, December 10, 2013