When should I start to weight train?

Many people start out on the course to a healthy life with a plan.  It’s rarely based in much, but there is a perceived order to things that most people have.

Typically it goes like this…

“First I’ll do a bunch of cardio and cut calories to take the weight off.  Then, once I’ve lost all my excess weight, I’ll start lifting weights and tone everything up to get the look I want.  Last, I’ll bask in the glory that is my newfound body and never have to exercise again!”

AND THEN…

A few weeks of doing cardio at the gym goes by and we realize that there are a bunch of fit people and they are still at the gym.  We think to ourselves, “You’re in great shape, you don’t need to be here so much.  You must just really like working out. I wish I liked working out.  Oh well, just three more months and I’ll be done!”.

AND THEN…

“Wait a minute, that guy doesn’t seem like he is having fun and he looks great.  Uh oh, I wonder if I have to keep doing this once I get in shape?”

AND THEN…

Somewhere along the lines, things progress.  We realize that exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle and enjoyment is an occasional perk not a constant benefit.  We adjust our mentality from “3 months and I’m done” to “I will do this for…” followed by whatever motivates us (my family, my life, my dating life etc).  It’s here where people truly start getting their mind right when it comes to being healthy.  This is where we realize that being healthy is a lifestyle not a 3 month temporary change of habits.  This is when things get good.  The healthy eating and cardio eventually takes the weight off and then the weight training begins.

Usually the person who follows the above routine discovers that they feel very weak in the beginning.  Their muscles ache and they notice that people of similar sizes are commonly far stronger and simply put, more capable.  They continue on believing they are “slow gainers” and that the other guy is “genetically gifted”.  The truth though, is a little murkier.

 

What went wrong…

 

The problem here is that our newfound exerciser (who we will call Tommy) depleted his body.  By restricting calories and doing cardio, Tommy lost weight but likely lost some muscle in the process, hurting his metabolism and stressing his body in additional negative ways as well.  So when time came to lift weights, Tommy was starting at a huge disadvantage as his body had lost muscle and thought it was starving.

How it should be done…

Tommy had an awesome opportunity that he squandered by not slowing down and researching what to do!  When Tommy started, if he had lifted weights in the beginning he would have had a lot of excess body fat that his body could have used for fuel.  Because he had that extra fuel, Tommy could have increased muscle that would have boosted his metabolism, assisting in the weight loss process while helping avoid the loss of healthy weight!  Tommy could have chosen exercise patterns that build either lean or bulky muscle based on preference.  He should still include the cardio as that will help him reduce body fat, but he SHOULD NOT wait until he lost the excess fat to start a weight training routine.  To put it simply, when we move, we use fuel.  The less fuel we have, the harder it is to move.  The greater the amount of fat you have on your body the easier it is to build muscle.  On top of it, the more muscle you have, the easier it is to burn fat and increase strength!

So the lesson of the day is simple, don’t wait to start lifting weights!  Get in there and start now.  The only thing that should slow you down is making sure that you’ve had a chance to meet with a qualified personal trainer to be cleared for exercise.  To find out more about how that process works, check out our blog post on…

How to pick a personal trainer

 

and to learn more about how to get in shape…

How to get in shape?