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Weight training has many benefits

July 11, 1997|By John Rhodes

It seems that there are more TV programs, books, articles and research praising and revealing the tremendous benefits of weight training or resistance exercise than even two years ago. It is not possible to list all of the benefits enjoyed from lifting weights. But there are a few, like increasing tissue (muscle) and bones, plus strengthening the heart and blood vessels, that should provide a good idea of just how important weight training can be.

For years many people, especially women, have been reluctant to get involved with weights because either they felt weights were too difficult to use or they were afraid they would end up "muscle bound." Now, however, because of the positive information concerning resistance exercise, people are becoming convinced that they won't end up looking like "The Incredible Hulk." However, they are faced with another problem: "How do I find time in an already busy schedule to add one more activity?"

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First, let's look at weight lifting as viewed by most people, even those who know lifting to be beneficial. Most will picture men and women in workout gear, sweat running in rivers, lifting weights for hours. After the workout, they picture the lifters so tired and exhausted they can hardly walk. Of course, many serious lifters put hours in at the gym, but research is bringing new facts to the public. Good workouts do not have to be long and exhausting.

Some of the newest research can be found in articles and books by Wayne L. Westcott, research director of South Shore YMCA in Quincy, Mass., and articles by American College of Sports Medicine.

Basically, the research reveals that it is not necessary to work long periods of time doing three to six sets of six to 12 repetitions for each muscle group. A person can make good strength and health gains while increasing muscle growth by doing just one set of six to 12 repetitions if done with adequate intensity.

In a follow-up article, I will address various types of resistance exercises along with a short workout of one set of six to 12 repetitions that, although short, will deliver outstanding results.

Workouts must be individualized with adjustments made based on age, body type, physical condition, etc. No matter how short the duration, exercise never should be undertaken until all these factors are considered.

John Rhodes is co-owner of J&J Fitness Center in Hagerstown. Write in care of The Herald-Mail Co., P.O. Box 439, Hagerstown, Md. 21741.

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