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Incorporating Strength Training:


Weight Bearing and Weight Lifting Exercises

By Tom Wilson

Up to this point, much of The Daniel Plan has focused on exercise and diet as a means to increase your overall internal health, help you maintain a healthy body weight and prepare your body for activity through core work and stretching.

Now it's time to pick it up a notch!

By incorporating weight-bearing and weight lifting exercise, you take this process to a whole new level! These types of workouts will turbo-charge your routine and provide you with a powerful, calorie burning workout while promoting a healthy skeletal system.

The benefits of a healthy bone structure are often overlooked when designing and implementing an overall health regime. As you age, your body is constantly breaking down bone and rebuilding it. Unfortunately, the older we get, the slower our body rebuilds bone and soon bone deterioration outweighs the bone that is being built.

Weight-bearing and weight lifting exercise can help speed the rate of bone rebuilding and aid in the prevention of degenerative bone conditions such as osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition where the bones become porous and fragile and can easily break. The good news is you are never too old to build stronger bones through weight-bearing and weight lifting exercise. Other health benefits from weight bearing/lifting exercise include:

  • Improved balance
  • Increased muscular strength
  • Increased muscular endurance
  • Enhanced joint stability
  • Increased coordination
  • Better posture
  • Increased flexibility
  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Weight control
  • Overall sense of well-being

The Daniel Plan is a program that promotes an overall, head to toe, internal/external health routine which should include a variety of different exercises and routines. The right variety will ensure you target all the areas listed above that affect your overall health. So in order to reach the goal of complete health, strive to incorporate both weight bearing and weight lifting exercises into your program.

The Difference Between Weight-bearing Exercise and Weight Training

The terms "weight-bearing" and "weight-training" are often incorrectly used interchangeably. Weight-bearing exercises include activities that require your muscles to work against gravity such as walking, jogging, hiking, stair-climbing, step aerobics, dancing and many sports, including tennis, racquetball, basketball and baseball. This type of exercise should be performed several times a week, allowing your muscles adequate time to recover between workouts.

Weight-training exercises are movements done against some kind of resistance such as weight machines, exercise tubing or free weights such as dumbbells. Training with weights will help in all the areas listed above and adds an enhanced strength component not as prevalent in weight-bearing exercises alone.

Although weight-bearing exercises are good for some strength gains and bone health, weight training exercises have been shown to be more effective. In order to stimulate bone growth and prevent/manage osteoporosis, you need to do exercises which place a strong demand or workload on the muscles. Muscle pulling on bone builds stronger bones and weight training exercises are more efficient at accomplishing this when the load is sufficient. If you are only working with 3-5 pound weights, there is not very much stimulation on the bone to stimulate growth.

When beginning a weight training program, start with lighter weights and work your way up to heavier weights as you physically progress. Be patient and give your muscles time to naturally adjust to the increased resistance. It's also extremely important to maintain a balance of strength between opposing muscle groups to maintain posture and prevent injury. For example, the back and chest should be in balance just as the biceps and triceps in the arm and so on.

Also, make sure you don't neglect your core training. If you need a refresher course on core training, review the core video shown during Week 8 of The Daniel Plan. As with weight-bearing exercise, allow adequate time to recover between workouts. As a general rule, each muscle group should be given a full day of rest between workouts, depending on the intensity of the workout.

Like I always say, "Listen to the feedback your body provides." If you have persistent muscle soreness, it's a sign you aren't giving your body enough rest. Next day or even 2 day soreness is natural.

I will go into more detail in the following weeks on how to customize your routine, but this overview will hopefully get you started. Start out simple and remember it's important to include variety in your workouts. This variety provides new stimulus to your body, helping you avoid plateaus while keeping the workouts interesting and fun!

A basic overview of a 3 day routine would look something like this:

Day 1- 10 minute warm-up/stretch
20-30 minutes weight training (overall body routine, 15 reps per exercise)
20 minutes of weight-bearing (walking/jogging/hiking…your choice)
5 minute post stretch
Day 2- 10 minute warm-up/stretch
20-30 minutes of weight-bearing (tennis/step aerobics/stair climbing…your choice)
20 minutes weight training (overall body routine, 20 reps per exercise)
5 minute post stretch
Day 3- 10 minute warm-up/stretch
20-30 minutes weight training (overall body routine, 15 reps per exercise)
20 minutes of weight-bearing (walking/jogging/hiking…your choice)
5 minute post stretch