Resistance Training and Weight Loss

By Revolution Physical Therapy & Weight Loss

It has been suggested approximately 21% of the adult population participates in some sort of resistance training at least 2 days a week (Chevan, 2008). While the popularity of strength training has increased from the days of it’s seemingly “cult” fad (refer to Arnold’s Pumping Iron), there still lies a massive misconception that those trying to lose weight should NOT focus as much on resistance training.  With more secondary information available than ever on health and fitness, it is important to dig down into the primary scholarly sources and identify of the necessity of resistance training for 31% of the population whom is categorized as obese (projected 51% of the population will be obese by 2030).

Resistance training is defined as “any type of training in which the body must move in some direction against some type of force that resists that movement”  (Stoppani,  2006). Although this definition may appear basic at first sight, it is important to place emphasis on the “some type of force” piece. Too many of us relate resistance training to meatheads lifting heavy barbells and slamming weights around. We don’t take into account that your own body weight can be used for resistance in addition to using bands, free weights like dumbbells or medicine balls.There are multiple types of resistance that can provide the stimulus needed to achieve the desired result that will assist with weight loss.

Such results are achieved through neural stimulation which causes the muscle to contract and when the muscle shortens and lengthens it creates microtears. Over time, hypertrophy (muscle growth) occurs and muscle becomes thicker and can move more weight (McArdle, Katch & Katch, 2010). As an individual increases lean mass, they burn more fat during rest and aerobic exercise. Furthermore, as a result of resistance training, daily energy levels adrenaline and other hormones (testosterone) increase (McArdle, Katch & Katch, 2010).

In conclusion, resistance training for weight loss should consist of large muscle group exercises (push, squat, pull, trunk, etc.). Repetitions should be 15-20, 2-3 sets of each exercise, preferably performed in a circuit format. It is encouraged that beginners with resistance training utilize cross training, integrating bouts of aerobic activity (walking, bicycle, elliptical, etc.) between resistance circuits to avoid accumulation of lactic acid, which can result in delayed onset muscle soreness.

In practical terms, resistance training will increase lean mass that both assist with fat burn during your “cardio” days, and also keep the weight bearing joints strong to avoid injury during these “cardio” days. For assistance with understanding what your ideal resistance training circuit should look like based on your goals, please consult with one of our expert Exercise Physiologists at one of the seven convenient Chicago area Revolution locations.


Why Spring Is the Perfect Time to Take Your Workout Outdoors

forest bike

When the weather thaws, the plants bloom and the days get longer, it’s spring—and the best time of the year to take your fitness regimen outside. Here are six research-backed perks of al fresco exercise.

You work harder

When people exercise outside, they tend to spend more time doing it. One study found that older people who were active outdoors did at least 30 minutes more moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week than those who only did it inside. It also made them feel healthier. “Nothing makes you feel more childlike than being outdoors,” says Dr. Pamela Peeke, a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and author of Fit to Live. “You’re modulating stress hormones, increasing endorphins and increasing the secretion of serotonin,” she says, so your mood brightens.

Being in nature lowers blood pressure

Spending time outside is also good for the heart. A recent study estimated that nearly 10% of people with high blood pressure could get their levels under control if they spent at least 30 minutes in a park each week, partly because of the heart-related benefits of getting fresh air and lowering stress. In Japan, public health experts recommend people spend time walking outdoors, a practice called forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku. Researchers in Japan have linked forest bathing with lower levels of the blood pressure-raising stress hormone, cortisol.

It spurs cancer-fighting cells

Some research suggests that when people are in nature, they inhale aromatic compounds from plants called phytoncides. These can increase their number of natural killer cells, a type of white blood cell that supports the immune system and is linked with a lower risk of cancer. These cells are also believed to be important in fighting infections and inflammation, a common marker of disease.

In one study, researchers found that people who took a long walk through a forest for two days in a row increased their natural killer cells by 50% and the activity of these cells by 56%. Those activity levels also remained 23% higher than usual for the month following those walks.

It can feel more fun

When people exercise outside, they feel better and enjoy the exercise more, studies suggest. “Enjoyment is an important pathway to the mental health impacts of physical activity,” says Rebecca Lovell, a research fellow at the University of Exeter in the UK. Exercising outside is also a great alternative for those who don’t want to go to the gym.

A review of research found that people who exercised outside reported feeling more revitalized, engaged and energized than those who did it indoors. The researchers also found that people who exercised outside felt less tension, anger and depression.

Your mental health may improve improve

Nature has a way of making people feel calm, and exercising outside can strengthen that effect. A small 2015 study found that people who walked for 90 minutes outside were less likely to ruminate on their problems and had less activity in the brain area linked to depression, compared to people who took similar walks but in urban areas. “Nature becomes a major distraction from all the stresses of life,” says Peeke.

You save money

Exercising outdoors is not only convenient, but it’s less expensive than a gym membership. It also cuts costs for the community. A recent study in England of “green exercises”—those done outside, including dog walking, running, horseback riding and mountain biking—estimated that the health benefits of doing physical activity in nature can save around $2.7 billion a year. “All you need is the right pair of shoes, and you can exercise on your own time,” says Peeke.

By Alexandra Sifferlin for Time Health

In sports, who’s really ‘old’?

Tom Brady became the second-oldest NFL quarterback to win the Super Bowl this year, at 39. He also holds the record for most Super Bowl victories with five.

Tom Brady’s Super Bowl victory continues a string of big wins for aging professional athletes — and at 39 years old, Brady has said he has no plans to retire. The second-oldest quarterback to win the Super Bowl after Peyton Manning, Brady signals what avid fans and sports experts are calling a growing trend of older athletes — from mid-30s tennis icons Roger Federer, Serena Williams and sister Venus to Florida Panthers right wing Jaromír Jágr, who turns 45 next week.

“We’ve really started to notice it in the last five or six years,” said Shawn Arent, director of the Center for Health and Human Performance at Rutgers University. “Don’t be at all surprised if … (we see) some of these guys winning their sixth Super Bowl in their 40s,” he added. Arent said advances in the science and technology of exercise are changing not only who excels in professional sports but how star athletes are training for the big game.

Just keep swimming

On Super Bowl Sunday, former Olympic swimmer Dara Torres found herself arguingDara Torres' bid to be oldest woman on U.S. Olympic swim team comes up short with a 9-year-old boy who predicted Brady’s impending retirement. Brady, the boy said, is too old to continue playing. “He had no idea who I was,” said Torres, who last competed in the 2008 Games at age 41. That summer, she won three silver medals and set an American record.

“So now I have this bet with this kid that Brady’s gonna be back next year,” she added. Torres, who won 12 medals during her 24-year Olympic career, was affectionately called “Grandma” by her teammates. But she said people learned to stop telling her that an athlete’s career died at 30. “I think I did away with that myth,” she said. “Nowadays, 30 isn’t that old anymore.”

Torres did notice that her body had changed over the years. In her teens and 20s, her approach to training was “more is better.” She trained to be physically stronger than the competition, packing on muscle in the weight room. In her 30s and 40s, however, she realized that she could no longer pull a double workout in one day. She felt winded with the same effort.

“You can’t do what the 20-year-olds are doing,” Torres said. Arent said that what is considered “old” changes from sport to sport. While athletes’ bodies may change in predictable ways, he said, their performance also depends on the unique demands of the game. Strength is one of the first things to decline with age, according to Arent. After 30, muscle mass tends to drop just a few percent per decade, but this is not something most people will notice, he said.

“For the elite athlete, where things are won and lost by fractions of a percent, then it’s definitely noticeable,” he said. In one analysis of the ages when athletes reach their peak performance in different sports, researchers found two separate trends: For sprint-like events that demand bursts of power, the longer the event, the younger the age at which athletes peak. For endurance events, athletes peaked later for longer events.

By that logic, the researchers found that swimmers peaked around 20 years old while ultra-distance cyclists peaked closer to 40. And scientists have found that even cyclists older than 100 can increase their performance and oxygen consumption, despite conventional wisdom. In sports that skew younger, athletes like Torres have gotten creative to stay on top of their games, said Arent.

“There are lessons in this for the younger athlete,” he said. “Train smarter, not just harder.”

Older and wiser

Torres wasn’t just losing her muscle. Her hormones were changing, and her recoveryUS swimmer Dara Torres came out of retirement at age 41 to win three Olympic silver medals at the 2008 Beijing Games. time was longer. She no longer swam through her injuries like she did in her 20s. Maximum heart rate also falls as people age, and training may take an extra toll on muscles, joints and ligaments. Maximum oxygen consumption takes a hit. For women especially, bone density may drop after age 30. Genetics may also play a role in athletic performance. “You can’t just push it like you did when you were younger,” Torres said.

Hormones that drop with age include growth hormone, a naturally occurring muscle-building compound whose synthetic version has also been implicated in Olympic doping scandals, according to the World Anti-Doping Agency. Although the impacts of other hormones, such as estrogen, on athletic performance are less clear, exercise physiologists such as Arent say new technologies are only beginning to reveal the science of what happens when athletes train and recover.

“We’ve seen a massive step up in terms of our ability to monitor athletes,” he said, adding that heart rate monitors, sleep trackers and biological tests are giving researchers new insight into what happens beyond the field or pool. Using personal data, athletes like Torres may change up their routines to play past their theoretical peak. If Torres couldn’t swim more powerfully, she said, she would have to swim more efficiently.

“You’re gonna lose a little bit of power, but you’ll make it up in the ability to do the sport in the best possible way,” said Jeoff Drobot, an exercise specialist at the American Center for Biological Medicine, who worked with Torres leading up to her final Olympic tryout in 2012.

One example of improving efficiency, Arent said, was famed cyclist Lance Armstrong’s low levels of blood lactate. Lactate, a byproduct of high-intensity exercise, causes a feeling of fatigue and burning in muscles; lowering these levels, said Arent, allows athletes to improve their performance — not by increasing their maximum strength but by staying closer to their current maximum for longer periods of time. Even then, Arent said, athletes can’t turn back the clock; they can only slow it.

“As you get older … you realize that no matter what, that window is closing,” he said. At 45 years old, Torres narrowly lost her spot in the 2012 London Olympics to competitors who were decades younger. It was then that she retired from swimming.

Of early birds and worms

Torres acknowledged that factors beyond training and willpower might be leading some athletes to stay in the game longer. Players might be having families later, making more money in some sports and realizing that it’s possible to continue playing professionally past a certain age.

“People are seeing the Serena Williams, the Roger Federers, Tom Brady,” she said. “Before, no one was doing it, and no one tried.” But while scientists continue to research new ways of monitoring and adjusting athletes’ regimens, experts like Arent and Drobot have stressed a message of early prevention: Though exercise can benefit non-athletes at any age, elite athletes stand to uniquely benefit from an early start. “Watch what these guys are doing” to train in their later years, said Arent.

“Now, can you apply this earlier? Imagine how much longer (your career) can be.”

By Michael Nedelman and Robert Jimison, CNN

Stronger than Yesterday: Getting F.I.T.T

By Kirstie Chase for Athletico

F.I.T.T. is an acronym that was created to address many of the important questions people have about exercise programs. This principle can be applied directly to strength training. Using the F.I.T.T. principle in combination with S.M.A.R.T goals is a great way to cultivate confidence, generate accountability to goals and improve your physical prowess!


The F.I.T.T. principle is comprised of Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type. Combining these factors is a safe and valuable way to answer the questions how often, when and how much effort is needed to strength train. Ultimately, this is a valuable way to create an exercise schedule. Since strength-based workouts follow different parameters than other forms of exercise (running, yoga, etc.), the resulting tips can be applied to strength training specifically.


Frequency is the first category listed within the F.I.T.T. principle. Frequency can be described as how often a person should lift weights.1

Frequency as it relates to strength training should be done two to three days a week.2 It is important to allow at least one day of rest between workout days to allow muscles to regenerate. Exercising the same musculature multiple days in a row can lead to increased soreness and potentially injury.


Intensity is a measure of how challenging a workout is. In terms of strength training, the amount of weight lifted, or resistance used, indicates the intensity at which one works.1

It is important to use weights that challenge the body, but that are still easy enough to maintain proper form. If building overall strength is your goal, consider using heavier weights for fewer repetitions. On the other hand, it is better to use lighter weights for more repetitions if greater muscular endurance is the goal.2


When it comes to strength training, time can be understood in sets and repetitions. Below are a few parameters to consider:

  • A set is a group of repetitions. It is important to do more than one set of an exercise to build strength in the muscles being used. Three is a commonly recommended set amount, but more advanced training may recommend more.2
  • To build greater strength, consider sets that have anywhere from one to five reps at heavier weights.
  • For general fitness programs aimed at building strength and endurance, incorporate sets that have a greater amount of reps. Three sets that include eight to twelve reps is recommended for beginners, those with injuries and those over the age of 50.2
  • Include anywhere from one to three minutes of rest between sets.


Type provides insight into what exercises should be included in a workout. Since every movement of the body requires the use of at least one or two muscles, the focus of resistance training should be to build total body strength. There are unlimited ways to combine exercises, however general strength can be increased by completing eight to ten different movements that challenge the major muscle groups.2

Use F.I.T.T. to get Fit!

As you begin a new strength training program, take time to consider how the F.I.T.T. principle can be used for your benefit! Goal setting gets the mind ready to take on new tasks, while the tips above help to create a plan of action to turn your dreams into a reality.

As always, if you feel any unusual pain or discomfort after your workout, click here to set up a complimentary injury screening.


Spice Up Your Workouts

With exercise, a little variety goes a long way

Often, the biggest threat to a regular workout schedule is losing interest. It’s like when you go to a restaurant and continue to order the same thing off the menu each visit. No matter how tasty the dish, sooner or later you’re bound to get tired of it.

Chuck Cranny, PT, MBA, a physical therapist at Rush, offers a few ideas for spicing up your workouts — so you won’t lose your appetite for regular physical activity.

“Motivation is key,” says Cranny. “And part of staying motivated is avoiding boredom. I think it really helps to have a game plan, something that will keep you going and make sure that your enjoyment continues down the road.”

1. Mix up your cardio and strength routines.

Don’t get into an aerobic exercise rut. If you ride the stationary bicycle one day, choose a stair climber, elliptical machine or treadmill the next day. You can also try interval training, where you vary the intensity throughout the workout.

Do the same with resistance exercise — lift free weights one day, choose the weight machines the next day.

And vary the amount of weight and/or number of repetitions. Use more weight with fewer repetition one day. The next visit, do your repetitions more quickly with less weight (always paying attention to maintaining good form and using a full range of motion). On another visit, use a more moderate pace for your repetitions.

2. Establish a solid core.

Do exercises that strengthen and align your core (your hips and trunk). “Pilates is great for this,” says Cranny. “Many exercise instructors also incorporate core strengthening in their routines. If you’re taking a class, just ask your teacher.”

3. Sign up for a class — or two.

Dance. Aerobics. Spinning. Martial arts. Yoga. With so many types of exercise to choose from, it won’t be hard to find a class you’ll enjoy.

A good teacher will keep things fresh for you, and many fitness classes can teach you a variety of ways to get to your fitness goals — so you have more of a menu to choose from when you’re on your own.

“Plus, the regularity of a class can set a pattern for getting you in the gym at a certain time,” Cranny says. “This gets you in the door, which is often half the battle.”

4. Become a team player.

Join a team and get your exercise in while participating in a group sport. You’ll find a variety of recreational leagues through your local park district or online — from flag football to floor hockey to tennis — as well as running and cycling clubs.

Cranny warns about making this your only form of exercise, though. “If you’re only getting out there once a week, you’re opening yourself up to injury.”

The regularity of a class can set a pattern for getting you in the gym at a certain time. This gets you in the door, which is often half the battle.

5. Take on a partner

Recruit a workout buddy. “This is a great way to be more dedicated to your workout,” says Cranny. “Showing up for a friend is great motivation when you’re tempted to skip workouts. And you can keep each other motivated during the session.”

6. Roll with the seasons

You may have to make an extra effort to keep things interesting during the winter months, when many of the options for physical activity outdoors are not as feasible.

“Winter, however, is a great time for overall conditioning,” says Cranny. “And there’s a wonderful payoff to staying motivated and having a varied routine: You’ll lay a strong foundation for a more active spring and be conditioned against injury.”

Of course, if you don’t mind the cold, there are plenty of fun outdoor winter sports, like cross-country or alpine skiing, snowboarding or skating.

Just make sure to check with your physician before you start any exercise program or participate in any demanding physical activity.

Transform Your Path to Wellness

By Karen Malkin Health Counseling

Join one of several 14 Day Transformation programs designed to help you dig deeper into areas of particular interest for you, providing a personalized experience. Browse the programs for you.


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