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Getting Your Best Body - Lifting Weights

Lift Weights for Your Best Body

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Updated April 16, 2012

Do you have your best body? By that, I don't just mean how it looks, but how it works. Does your body take on your daily activities with energy and ease or does it seem to get in the way? Getting your best body doesn't necessarily mean being the smallest size or having the buffest body. It means having a body that does what you need it to do without aches and pains. The good news is, it doesn't take much to get your best body.

Your Best Body - Lift Weights

Strength training is essential for getting your best body because it improves both appearance and function. You build lean muscle tissue which raises your metabolism and helps you lose body fat. At the same time, you build strong bones and connective tissue, which gives you a solid foundation for all your daily activities.

Functional strength training has become popular for getting a better body because you focus on whole body movements that mimic the activities you do each day. Rather than isolate muscle groups, you work the body as a whole, just the way it works in real life.

Think of it like this: A bicep curl is great for strengthening the biceps, but how often do you lift and lower a weight like that in real life? In real life, you might squat down to pick up a laundry basket and lift it as you stand up, much like this squat, curl and press exercise.

These functional exercises not only burn more calories, because you're working more muscle groups, but train your body to be strong for the dynamic movements you make on a typical day.

Make Your Workouts More Functional

When you isolate body parts, as you sometimes do with traditional strength training, you end up training your muscles but not your movements. One way to change that is to look for ways to make your strength exercises more functional:

  • Incorporate free weights: Machines have a place in strength training, but they offer so much support that the body doesn't have to work as hard to maintain balance and good form. In real life, we don't have that kind of support. Using dumbbells, bands or cables forces your body to create it's own support, which leads to a stronger body overall.
  • Use a stability ball: Doing some exercises on a ball, such as chest presses or pushups involves more stabilizers, the muscles that work to protect joints and maintain alignment.
  • Combine movements: We usually do a combination of motions throughout the day. We lunge forward to open a door and then rotate while stepping through. Combining strength exercises together, like lunging forward with a reach or squatting with an overhead press can mimic this dynamic way of moving.
  • Try unilateral exercises: Doing one-legged squats or using one arm at a time for moves like flies or chest presses forces your core to engage as well as your stabilizers, making these moves more functional and challenging.

Being creative with your workouts can build functionality while making your routines more fun. These functional workouts offer new ideas for how to train your body:

More Strength Training Resources

Next: Your Best Body - Cardio

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Lower Body Toning with Lunges and Squats

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