When it comes to weight loss and fitness, it really is a marathon and not a sprint. The slower you lose weight, the more likely you are to keep it off. And the slower you increase the weight you’re lifting or length of your workout, the less likely you are to hurt yourself.
It has been shown that the best way to increase your muscle mass is to perform your reps slowly; this is because you are holding the muscle under tension for longer. This also allows you to focus on your technique and therefore improve your performance. Slower reps are associated with increased strength rather than faster reps which produce more power.
When you first start out lifting weights, you will see progress reasonably rapidly because it is recommended that you start with a weight that feels light and then work up from there. You should be able to do around 12-15 reps comfortably, make sure to keep a couple of reps in the tank, i.e. don’t push yourself to breaking point. Then once you are confident at this weight and it feels ‘too easy’ move up slowly and relatively to the type of lift you are trying. For example, you will be able to add extra weight quicker in deadlifts than in bench press. Keep a log of what you are doing on each workout and then work on it from session to session. A good place to start is a bit below the heaviest you managed on the last session, focussing on your technique and ensure that it isn’t too hard to get to 15 reps. Then add some weight on your last circuit. If you find you are struggling on the weight, then don’t be ashamed to move down a bit until you are comfortable again. You can’t increase all the time, remember that and stay safe.
If your goal is to lose weight and tone up a bit rather than gain some serious muscles, then remember that you are more likely to see long term success when you lose the pounds slowly. The ideal is 1-2 pounds per week, if you are dropping faster than that for a prolonged period of time, then you may be restricting yourself too much and this will make you more likely to binge and slip back into old ways. Restricting your calories too much and crash diets can slow your metabolism as it forces your body to breakdown muscle to provide energy to sustain your body. It takes more energy to maintain muscles cells than fat cells, so the less muscle mass you have, the slower your metabolism will be.
The old saying of ‘slow and steady wins the race’ is definitely something you should keep in mind when progressing at the gym and with your weight management.