Chris Worthy, Contributing Writer/ for Upstate Parent. Published 12:00 a.m. ET April 12, 2018
Health and fitness goals should be as unique as the person making them, but sometimes a reality check and some good advice can mean the difference between success and never getting started.
Pete Townley, head trainer and co-owner of The Upstate Performance Project, focuses heavily on education in training athletes and individuals. He said the myth persists that women should not lift weights.
“I think the biggest thing is that it’s 2018 and we’ve known for many, many years that strength training – resistance training – is one of the fundamental elements of an overall healthy lifestyle,” he said. “You are going to have to touch weights to do that.”
While Townley’s female clients certainly can have the goal of bodybuilding or being a strength athlete, those are specific goals that require targeted effort. But Townley said some women think any type of weight lifting will lead to bodybuilder muscles.
“As a personal trainer, one of the things I hear literally daily is ‘I just want to tone up,’” he said. “What they mean is they want the muscles to look good and they want to be lean. That means we need to lose body fat. Resistance training, cardiovascular training and nutrition are the three big factors.”
If losing body fat is the goal, just breaking a sweat or engaging in moderate intensity exercise for a long period of time – like walking on a treadmill – likely won’t be the most effective way to spend precious gym time.
“There’s a place for that, but it’s not necessarily the best way to lose body fat,” Townley said. “The muscle itself has to be strong and effective to work properly. It actually uses stored fat to help maintain its shape. You can’t get that way if you don’t do strength training. You won’t get bulky unless you want to get bulky. If you want to get big and bulky, lifting weights is the way to do it, but lifting weights alone won’t get you big and bulky.”
It is possible to maintain lean muscle tissue and lose body fat if toning up is the goal.
“Your muscles will look better, and you’ll have those lines you want, but you won’t get them without strength training,” Townley said. “As personal trainers, there’s a science behind fitness. There are a million different things you can do to lose weight quickly, but they aren’t necessarily healthy and don’t set you up for the long haul. The goal should be to get clients to a level of self-sufficiency. We are teaching them to be healthy individuals. Strength training is a huge part of that.”
While weights may look intimidating, Townley said getting help and finding what is fun for you is the key to making it a part of a healthy lifestyle that can continue for decades to come.
“Sometimes when people talk to me about their goals, they don’t want them to sound superficial or vain,” he said. “Your goals are your goals.”
Townley offers a free consultation to help create a roadmap to achieve those goals. He said getting the advice of a trainer can make all the difference.
“It’s an appropriate goal, with an appropriate timeline,” he said. “If you have a goal, there is a way to get there, especially if it’s to be healthy and fit. There are people to help you.”
Learn more at upstateperformanceproject.com.