Lift ALL the weights!
October 8, 2012 9:11 AM Subscribe
My husband has recently started using the weight machines at the Y. He wants to build strength and muscle mass as quickly as possible, while hopefully also losing some fat. What is the best strategy if we assume that for the time being, he is not going to switch to free weights?
My husband occasionally gets bursts of fitness enthusiasm. His current fitness love affair is with the weight machines at the Y, which we recently joined. There are 13 machines he uses. They have a networked electronic system that keeps track of your workouts, weights and settings that he really likes. It's socially "gamified" in that you earn points for various things and can track your own progress and rank yourself against other members in various ways. So for several reasons, let's just assume that he is not going to switch to free weights for a while, even if we might all agree that they are more efficient. Right now his goal is to gain strength, gain muscle mass, and lose body fat; all are about of equal importance.
Now, when he gets these bursts of fitness enthusiasm, he--in both of our opinions--has to fight the tendency to overdo things. So, after only a few sessions in the weight room, one evening he texted me to say he would be running late, and it turns out it was because he wound up doing a 2-hour workout (all weights). That seemed like a bad idea to me, since it was only maybe his 3rd or 4th time working out in the weight room, and I told him so.
Since then he's backed off a bit on the length of workouts, but he still says his goal is to do 1.5 hour workouts on alternating days. A 1.5 hr weights-only workout still seems longer than what I normally see suggested. I told him that based on what I had read, that one sees maximum gains from doing fewer reps at higher weights, and that if he was able to spend 90 minutes in the weight room that he probably wasn't lifting the optimal amount, at least in terms of strength/muscle mass gains--i.e., that he should be doing fewer reps/sets at higher weights. Right now he is doing 3-6 sets on each machine at 12 reps.
He's also about 3 months into re-starting his running program but has cut back on running in favor of the weight room. My thought is that if he wants to get a really effective aerobic workout plus a really effective strength-building workout, he'd be better served by doing something like a good 30-45 minute run 3x/week, plus a more intense 30-45 minute weights workout 3x/week, rather than these 90 minute weights workouts where he's trying to get both aerobic and strength gains in the same session.
Is there support for my suggestion? Are there any good resources for designing workouts etc when working with machines rather than free weights? If he would really rather do a long weights workouts (90-120 minutes), is that likely to be harmful in some way?
FWIW, he is 42 and has a BMI of 28.