Chicago area community colleges have invested a lot in their fitness programs. Most include a wide range of exercise equipment, mats and more recently, weights. Weight training is an increasingly popular exercise for the student body at community colleges. It’s no longer only used by football players, wrestlers and other mostly male sports. The health benefits are well documented and include increased strength, fat loss, stronger bones, increased metabolism and a lower risk of certain medical conditions.
Despite the benefits of weight training many people believe that exercising with weights will build large bulky muscles similar to body builders. This is far from the truth. Body builders work extremely hard for many years and follow a strict diet and muscle building program to achieve their results. Most people will build a little muscle and tone their body so that they have less fat and more core strength.
The four most popular health benefits associated with weight training can be described as follows:
- Improved strength. This one is obvious, but weight training not only strengthens muscles, but it also helps to increase bone density and protect joints.
- Fat loss. Weight training creates a lean, slim body. Overall body weight may not change because lifting weights increases muscle mass as fat is burned, but a more muscular body is more efficient at burning calories.
- Higher metabolism. It takes more calories to fuel muscle that it does to carry around fat. The more muscle on a body the more calories it will burn. The more calories that are burned will mean more weight loss.
- Reduced health risks. Regular weight training will help reduce the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and even strokes. Many people with diabetes report improved blood sugar scores when regularly exercising with weights.
In order to build more muscle mass it’s important to have a proper diet and implement consistent cardio workouts. Both the diet and cardio exercises help to reduce fat which allows the body to become more lean and efficient.
Most community colleges will have one or all of the following programs available on campus:
- Body weight. This workout doesn't require equipment or free weights. It produces the lean, hard look of gymnasts and wrestlers. A popular body weight workout is Convict Conditioning which includes special training using push-ups, pull-ups, core workouts and such.
- Free Weights. This is the classic barbell and dumbbell workout. Using free weights can create tremendous strength and increased muscle mass. As a pure muscle building exercise it’s hard to beat free weights.
- Weight machines. Most college campuses will have resistance machines in their fitness centers. They tend to be safer than free weights, but not as fast to produce results.
For students new to weight training most community colleges have workout clubs where training information is shared and training partners can be found. Start weight training today and enjoy the increased health benefits, the social interaction on campus and be surprised by the results.