A Simple Approach to Living With Less

Lifting Weights to Minimize Yo Butt

Welcome to Day 15 of the Minimize Yo’ Butt Fitness Challenge

A Note from Faith: This is the start of the Move Yo’ Butt Week. To kick off the week, Marc from Minimalist Freak is here to share his story of how lifting weights helped him to speed up the process of losing weight and how it can help you too.

With the launch of Minimize Yo’ Butt I felt compelled to ask Faith if I could do a guest post. The last few years I have spent a great deal of time trying to get into shape. I have failed miserably at it and then succeed in the most unexpected way.

My Failures

My life was so busy that I didn’t have time to do biking, hiking or any other physical activity that I enjoy. I had gained 40 pounds in the last 10 years. At 220 pounds I was out of shape, unhappy with myself and not able to keep up with my son.

I had to do something. Like many people I tried every fad diet plan and every diet pill that promised quick weight loss. I did lose weight quickly. But then I would gain it back just as fast.

Then I decided to try a boot camp style workout. It was high energy and explosive exercises (like flipping tractor tires) intended to maximize the number of calories that you burned. But since I was out of shape AND 10-15 years older than most of the other people there, I tended to just get injured. Taking a few weeks off to recover here and there destroyed any momentum that I had gained along the way.

I needed to try something else. My problem was I didn’t know what I was doing and I didn’t have a plan.

The Solution

I needed advice from someone who really knew what they were talking about. Someone I could trust. One of my coworkers is a professional power lifter so I asked him to educate me. He agreed to talk to me if I agreed to spend one evening at the gym lifting weights with him. He is a very large (muscular) man and rather intimidating. But I agreed.

That evening he killed me at the gym. I literally hurt for a week after. But during this torture session, he told me a few things that changed the way I think about fitness entirely.

First, he said that there is no such thing as a fad diet that works; getting physically fit takes years not weeks. You have to change every aspect of your life slowly. Don’t look at it as a quick fix, but as a way of life. You have to want it and work at it over time.

Second, lots of cardio will not make you lose weight fast. Bodybuilders have next to no body fat on their bodies. But if you ask them to list the most important parts of their daily routine in order of importance, it would be:

  1. Sleep – Without good sleep your body doesn’t recover from any exercise that you do
  2. Food – A good low calorie and high protein diet is essential to losing weight and building muscle
  3. Weightlifting – Third on the list?
  4. Cardio – How can this be last?

Most people who want to lose a lot weight don’t lift weights. Cardio and dieting is the only thing they think about. Have you ever watched the TV show The Biggest Loser? At least half of their time is in the gym lifting weights. Why is this? The simple answer is that your body burns more calories, the higher your muscle mass is. So by gaining a little muscle mass you will make your exercise routines more efficient.

I lost 35 pounds over the course of a year. Not only did I lose the weight, but I have kept the weight off. In the last 6 months I have never been more than 2-3 pound off of 185 pounds. I still have 10-15 pounds to go, to reach my goal. But I feel so much better about myself than when I started.

I suggest starting slow. Your back and your upper legs are the largest muscle groups of your body, work on these first. Don’t worry about lifting heavy weights. Lift light and use correct form. Don’t jerk the weights. Do slow and controlled movements.

Here are some links to BodyBuilding.com videos that teach the proper way to do lifts.

If you have a gym membership I suggest these exercises:

1. Seated Cable Rows
2. Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown

1. Leg extension
2. Seated Leg Curl
3. Hack Squat

At home you can do similar exercises with just a set of dumbbells (or even 2 gallon milk jugs, filled with water):

1. Standing Dumbbell Upright Row
2. One-Arm Dumbbell Row

1. Dumbbell Squat
2. Dumbbell Lunges

Benefits of Weight Lifting:

  1. Increased strength which makes you less prone to injuries
  2. Stress relief
  3. Burns as many calories as cardio exercises, with less sweat
  4. Makes the cardio exercises you do, more efficient
  5. Confidence builder

Do you incorporate weight lifting in your exercise? How has it helped you?

Marc writes about how living with less makes every part of life easier. To read more about his experiences, please visit his blog, Minimalist Freak.

Head over to the Minimize Yo Butt page if you’d like to learn more about the challenge. If you enjoyed this post, please consider signing up for updates or follow me on Twitter. The only way my blog reaches more people is if you Tweet it, Like it on Facebook, or share it with your friends. Thanks so much for reading!

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  1. …SO true. I love being in the freeweight weight room at the gym. I find it so much more satisfying than cardio–even though I know I need to do both…more. LOL I fully admit that I am far better at lifting than I am at cardio!!

  2. Thank you Faith for letting me participate in your Minimize Yo’ Butt fitness challenge! Fitness has become such an important part of my life. Its nice to be able to share.

  3. I feel so intimidated in the free weights! Hoping I can get hubby to go with me!

    • Intimidated because of the lifting or the people that tend to be in that area? All of the free weight lifts have machine weight equivalents. Some gyms have workers that will show you how to do things if you need. A lot of times it is free if it is just a few minutes of their time. Also those big muscle guys are usually very helpful if you just ask nice. Most of them are very passionate about lifting and will gladly assist.

  4. I’m a free-weight fan Marc (as you probably know – thanks for your resources over at my blog). It’s an odd one with women. I try to convert other women to strength training, but often get told they feel they aren’t ‘strong enough’ – bizarre! One sure fire way of delaying osteoporosis is lifting weights, and free weights as we know are better than machines as they require balance and help work the core more effectively. After a weights workout I feel different to any other type of exercise, everything feels tighter, firmer and of course stronger. Loved the post, hope it inspires others to give it a go!

  5. Hey Marc,

    I love weight machines and free weights. Right now I can’t justify the expense or the drive (there’s no gym in my town) and I’ve been thinking about what to do! I’ve got cardio happening with my daily beach walks (about an hour and a half) but I haven’t done any strength training this time around. I bought some light free weights from a thrift shop the other day to get started with! Just waiting for one pesky little injury to recover before I get started….

    • You don’t need fancy gym equipment to lift weights. Look around at what you have in the house. The second set of exercises that I listed above is all done with dumbbells. But I have seen people use milk jugs, brief case, cast iron pot, etc.

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