New Year’s Resolutions… inevitably they usually include weight loss and ideas about starting an exercise regime. One of the best ways to get a jump on your new year’s fitness goals and weight loss is to have a healthy attitude about diet and exercise. To get the best results from an exercise program, it is important to include the fitness trinity:

  • aerobic conditioning (walking)
  • flexibility exercises (yoga)
  • strength training (push-ups, planks, free weights)

So, let’s talk more about strength training. Often, people beginning or reintroducing an exercise program into their schedules forget about how important it is to include strength training. It is such a vital component to maintaining and expanding your health and fitness level. In strength training, resistance is added to movement in order to make muscles work harder and, over time, become stronger. The most common strength training methods include:

  • using weight machines
  • working with free weights
  • doing exercises that use your own body weight

Strength training increases, muscle tone, strength and endurance. There are many additional benefits from adding a strength training program to your weekly fitness regime:

  • Improves balance and coordination.
  • Reduces the risk of injury.
  • Can make daily activities, like hauling groceries and working in the garden, less tedious and much easier.
  • Assists in health weight management, by maintaining and improving muscle tone.

As we get older, we tend to lose muscle mass which often results in slowing our metabolism. If you can work to maintain and improve muscle mass, your body will naturally burn more calories at times of rest.

Free weights and weight machines are both effective tools to improve muscle strength and endurance. Free weights are typically easier because they are less expensive and can adapt to different body types and individual ability. Weight machines are often considered safer than free weights because they position the body properly and it is easier to control the weight and resistance level. Other tools commonly used in strength training are resistance tubing, stability balls and exercises that use your own body weight for resistance. It’s important to remember that all of these options do typically target specific muscle groups. To stay motivated and to get the best overall strengthening, you should target one muscle group per work out. Try to work out twice a week focusing on each major muscle group. For example, you may want to work your lower and upper body on alternate days and rotate week to week. It is important to allow your muscles to rest a full day in between working your muscle groups. If you do prefer to focus on total strength training, it important that the next day should either include rest or aerobic activity. For best results from your strength training and to stay healthy and injury free, here are some helpful tips:

  • Incorporate two to three alternate days to focus on strength training while alternating targeted muscle groups.
  • Include exercises for all major muscle groups. Muscle imbalances often result in injury.
  • Effective strength training usually involves three sets of 12 repetitions.
  • Choose a weight that is heavy enough to result in muscle fatigue after 12-15 repetitions and increase weight as the exercises become easier.
  • Try adding new exercises or equipment to your regimen to keep your strength and workouts fresh, engaging, and effective.
  • Practice proper technique. If you do exercises incorrectly, they can put you at risk for injury.
  • If you have a gym membership, make sure you ask your club’s fitness professional about proper use and technique when using weight machines or free weights.
  • If you prefer working out at home, you may want to consult with a certified personal trainer to insure that you are doing the exercises properly. They can also help you create a customized exercise program to meet your needs.
  • If you’re new to exercise, are overweight, a smoker or middle aged, you may want to consult with your physician prior to adding an exercise regime to your weekly activities.

All of us at Orthopedic Specialists of Louisiana want to wish health and happiness in 2022. Starting a new exercise regime is a great way to kick off the new year, but please remember to listen to your body. Be sure to consult with a physician if pain or discomfort interferes with your increased activity or your daily routine. No pain, no gain is not typically applicable to a healthy exercise program.

Val Irion, MD is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine, joint replacement – knee & shoulder and Mako robotic partial & total knee replacement. To learn more about OSL or to schedule an evaluation with one of our physicians, please visit: or call (866)759.9679.