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In 12 weeks of consistent resistance exercise strength can increase by 20% to 23%. Resistance exercise is important because it builds muscle. Muscle is important because it is the engine in your body that burns calories and helps maintain your metabolic rate. I encourage all people to do any type of resistance exercise for those reasons, as well as for the fact that balance will improve and coordination will improve. Resistance exercise also improves self-esteem.

Moderator: So those who are interested in using exercise to aid in weight loss should not just look at calories burned by a certain amount of a particular exercise? Building muscle means weight loss is enhanced across the board?

Weil: When anyone loses weight, up to 25% of the weight lost could be muscle. In other words, if you lose 100 pounds, 25 pounds could be muscle. This can make more weight loss difficult, because of the role of muscle in burning calories. Although weight lifting and other resistance exercise do not necessarily burn lots of calories, it's very important for long-term weight maintenance, because muscle is so metabolically active in your body.

The bottom line is that you want as much muscle as possible. So resistance exercise during weight loss, and once you reach your goal weight, is important.

Member question: What is too much exercise?

Weil: There are symptoms of over training. Those are:

  • Loss of strength or speed or performance in general
  • An increase in resting heart rate
  • More fatigue during the day
  • Lethargy
  • A feeling like you don't want to work out
  • Chronic soreness or aches and pains

It's important to remember that the muscles and the body in general, grow during rest periods, not when you're training. If you don't provide down time and rest periods then the muscles never have a chance to recover and grow. Then the symptoms of over training will appear and your results will be greatly compromised.

The trick is to monitor your body and learn how to listen to your body for these symptoms, and when you have the symptoms to take some time off from your workout. Virtually everyone who takes a break from their workout when they are over trained comes back stronger than ever. People are afraid to take time off from working out, but the fact is if you are over trained you will not be able to grow or get more results. So a break is critical.

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