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Charge Up for Good Health

I hate lifting weights. Is strength training really necessary?

I hate lifting weights. Is strength training really necessary?

You might hate veggies, but you know you still have to eat them. The same goes for strength training. As we age, women lose 5 pounds of muscle every decade, and men lose 7. This loss doesn't just affect muscle appearance and tone; it also decreases your resting metabolic rate. The only way to build muscle is by strength training.

The good news is that research has shown you can achieve significant results in just two 15- to 20-minute workouts a week. Here's the minimum you can get away with per workout:

  • One upper-body pushing exercise (push-up or bench/chest press)
  • One upper-body pulling move (bent row, chin-up or seated row)
  • One leg exercise that involves all major muscles (squat, lunge or leg press)
  • One move each that targets the abdominals (crunch or curl) and lower back (prone trunk extension)

Choose a move or a weight that will allow you to perform one set of 10 repetitions with good form; if you can do 11 or 12 reps, you need a harder move or more weight. Optimally, try to repeat a set of these exercises two to three times.

This minimum-effort strength-training plan will result not only in muscle gain and fat loss, but also safeguard your body against a host of degenerative diseases.

Photo: Corbis Images