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Rich Weil, MEd, CDE: Fall Into Fitness

How to get up and moving

Free Weights or Machines? continued...

The way to reduce the fat is to do aerobic exercise, which stimulates the fat to release into the body, into the bloodstream, so that it can be burned during exercise, and to do resistance or weight lifting exercise to build that muscle. Remember the muscle is the engine that burns all the calories. The aerobic exercise will stimulate the fat to release into the bloodstream, so that it can get to the muscle. Once the fat is in the muscle, it gets burned and then you have a smaller fat cell, and that's how you lose fat.

Keep up with the abdominal exercises, because they will tone you, tighten you and strengthen you, and then as you do more aerobic activity, you'll get those fat cells to reduce.

Then finally, of course, attention to how many calories you eat is critical for losing the fat, because no matter how much exercise you do, you will never lose weight if you eat more than you burn.

Member question: Can you recommend any free weight exercises to replace lunges and squats for bad knees?

Weil: Start with straight leg raises:

  • Lie down on the floor, one knee bent and the other leg straight.
  • Lift the straight leg to the height of the other knee.
  • Pause one to two seconds and then lower the straight leg to the floor.
  • Repeat 10 times.
  • If that's easy, strap an ankle weight -- two pounds to start -- on your ankle and do the exercise with that.

That will start to strengthen the quadriceps and the knee with no stress on the knee.

Once you can do three sets of 10 repetitions with five to eight pounds ankle weights, you may be able to do some standing squats or lunges, but if not, you can start with seated leg extensions and seated leg curls. If those bother your knee, you can shorten the range of motion so the knee doesn't bend all the way to 90 degrees. And, of course, if the knee continues to hurt, you should see your doctor.

Once you can do straight leg raises, leg curls seated, and seated leg extensions without pain, you should be able to do squats and possibly lunges.

Member question: I have tons of exercise equipment at home but not sure which ones to use and should they be used in a specific order?

Weil: Lots of exercise equipment is a good thing. Number one, it serves as a cue to exercise, and number two, it's very convenient.

Here is a potential order to do your exercise program:

  • Start with a three to five-minute brief aerobic warm-up.
  • If you have a treadmill or bike or any other aerobic device, use that first. Do anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes of aerobic activity on the machine.
  • Then spend time with your resistance exercise equipment. If you have dumbbells, lift those. If you have a therapy ball or Physioball, use that as well, in conjunction with the dumbbells.

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