Avera Medical Minute: Weight training is important to reach fitness goals

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Sometimes, it can be hard to stick to an exercise plan. But a routine is important when you're trying to reach a fitness goal.

Brooks Little is a former college athlete now in his 30's. He said he's in the best shape of his life right now.

"I think the big thing with me is just being able to play with my kids," he said. "I got three kids under the age of three right now, so it's a little hectic at night."

He's been working out for 20 years but really didn't start seeing big results until recently.

"I've actually hit peak levels, personal records on the bench and also on a lot of my shoulder work than I did 14, 15 years ago," he said.

He lifts weights about four times a week at an intense level.

"It's just really important to understand that the big difference between weight training and just cardiovascular training. Weight training can improve your cardiovascular health just as much as going on the treadmill," Little said.

Chad Gomarko is a personal trainer at the Avera McKennan Fitness Center in Sioux Falls. He said weight and resistance training, like Brooks is doing, is important no matter what fitness level you're at.

"So when you're talking about weight training, it's really anything that you can do to increase muscle activation and allow you to perform at a higher level," Gomarko said.

Bodyweight exercises, like squats or lunges, can be a good starting point. Then, add in lighter weights or a medicine ball.

"Balance is a key component, stability, movement patterns or agility, and then just having the strength necessary to do daily activities," Gomarko said.

Making sure you're doing the movements correctly is very important. You can tell you're making a difference in your body just by listening to it.

"Generally speaking, you want to use your measurables as is your quality of movement better? Is your quality of life better? That's ultimately where you want to see a person progress to," he said.

And Brooks is at that point.

"I've been able to pick my kids up. I bend at the knees and stuff like you're taught when you do lift weights. And it's actually helped. I don't throw my back out as much. I'm not as sore when I wake up the next day," Brooks said.

And he also said no matter how old you are, age is just a number. So prove to yourself you can reach your fitness goal.

Another good tip Gomarko has to help you reach a goal is to start doing something you enjoy like swimming. Then as you get more comfortable, add in strength training.