Am I too muscular? Weightlifter worries

Fitness Q & A

Health & Fitness

July 11, 2004|By Gailor Large | Gailor Large,Special to the Sun

I've started lifting weights three times a week and have become more muscular than I want to be. I love the way lifting makes me feel, but what can I do to stay leaner?

The idea that weightlifting will automatically give you big muscles is a myth. With a few modifications to your routine, you can have the calorie-blasting and toning benefits of lifting without the thick muscles.

First, increase the number of repetitions you are doing to 12-15 (my guess is you are doing 8-10 now). To maintain good form through the final repetitions, you may have to use a lighter weight (the muscle should still be spent after 12-15 reps).

Do two to three sets before moving on to the next exercise. This will boost your heart rate and scorch calories, which will contribute to the slimming effect.

Next, intersperse a few minutes of cardio (running, cycling or jumping rope) between each set. With these changes, you will achieve a leaner look while still challenging yourself in the gym.

Is it true that exercising in the evenings makes it hard to fall asleep? I've heard arguments that it actually helps induce sleep.

There is no clear answer. Everybody's body chemistry is different, and exercise affects individuals in different ways.

Some studies indicate that nighttime exercise does interfere with sleep, while others show the opposite effect. Try keeping a sleep diary. That way you can track how exercise affects your own sleep schedule.

If it does have an effect, and you can't bear to exercise in the morning, try calming activities like yoga or swimming in the evenings. Reserve the weekends for more strenuous exercise.

If you do exercise at night, don't eat a big meal afterward. Part of the problem of exercising late is that it can push other activities, like dinner and studying, into the wee hours.

Do you have a fitness question? Write to Fitness, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278. You can also fax questions to 410-783-2519 or e-mail fitness@ baltsun.com.

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