Chen Challenge #8: Exercise with resistance!

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As I had previously mentioned in the last post, Chen Challenge #7: Optimize your running!, I hate running but I am a huge fan of lifting weights. For me, I love the challenge of picking up a heavy dumbbell and trying to increase the weight as I get stronger. It’s a great way for me to visually see the progress I make when it comes to increasing strength.

Judging from my pictures, I am obviously NOT a meat-head. There is no way I’d ever want my arms to be bigger than my head and my chest to bulge out to where I’d fit in a C cup bra. To remind you, the Chen Challenge is about achieving the body you are comfortable in.

Chen Challenge #8: Exercise with resistance!

One of the biggest reasons why I prefer resistance training over cardio is because (believe it or not) weights help your body burn fat faster than cardio. Resistance training comes in all forms, and my favorite is using free weights.

Don’t get me wrong, cardio is a great way to build up endurance and stamina. However, the issue with cardio is that you only really burn the calories and fat while you’re exercising. Once you’re done with your exercise routine, your body has a cool down period (about an hour or so). Once that hour passes, your body becomes rested and no longer gains the fat burning boost from the workout.

Exercising with weights and building muscle is different. While exercising (resistance training), your body burns off calories and potentially fat. But it’s the aftermath that makes this so appealing. Your body continues to keep an elevated calorie/fat burning rate after your stop working out! This is because your body is working to repair the stressed muscle fibers.

Afraid of getting too muscular? Don’t be. Unless you eat a lot of protein in your diets, it’s pretty much impossible to get super huge from resistance training. How can you build large amounts of muscle, if you don’t eat the protein required? Without a high protein diet, you may build a little more muscle, but you will most likely get more toned due to increased fat burn throughout your whole day. Protein is still important for muscle repair; just don’t overdo it if you don’t want to gain bulk. If you want a bulk up, high protein diets are essential. A great way to get a boost in protein is to mix some whey protein powder in your daily cup of coffee!

Don’t forget to work out your legs too! Squats and leg presses are a great exercise to work those lower body muscles. Plyometrics are great too – a subject that will be touched upon in the next Chen Challenge!

If you’re like me and are too lazy to go to the gym, a cheap set of adjustable dumbbell weights is a great investment!

When using free weights for resistance training (works for all muscle groups), I follow a set and repetition routine that help me get stronger and tone at the same time:

Total of 6 sets:

Set 1: 12 reps at about 50% maximum strength

Set 2: 10 reps at about 60% maximum strength

Set 3: 8 reps at about 70% maximum strength

Set 4: 6 reps at about 80% maximum strength

Set 5: 12 reps at about 70% maximum strength

Set 6: As many reps as you can (Up to 12-15) at about 60% of maximum strength.

– Yuli

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