Get Stronger, Burn Fat + Build Lean Muscle with Resistance Training

Resistance training is the ideal type of exercise to prevent muscle loss, maintain a healthy weight, build lean muscle, age powerfully, and so much more. Here, JJ shares 4 things to focus on as you build muscle. She shows you how to design a workout routine regardless of your current fitness level, the overlooked key for lean muscle, the #1 food in your diet to build and maintain muscle, the best way to measure and monitor your progress, and how building muscle helps you age confidently. “You’re not only going to love the way it makes you look and feel now,” JJ says in this video about resistance training. “Your future self will thank you.”

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Hey, this is JJ Virgin. Thanks so much for joining me. This is ask the health expert. In each episode, I put the power of health in your hands and share ways to get healthy, lose weight, heal your gut detox and lots more. So you can look and feel better fast if you’d rather watch the video. Hey, I did put on my makeup and do my hair.

So check it out on my YouTube channel.

You may love exercise, or you may hate it, but either way, you know, if you wanna stay healthy, you gotta do it. So you wanna be smart and do what works right now. What if I told you there was a specific kind of exercise? That’s the best hands down at helping you get healthy. Lose fat and have a better quality of life as you age.

That’s the one you do, right? Well, stick around because I’m going to give you that info you need to get started. Hey, it’s JJ. Keep this channel in your rotation. If you’re working on your health and fitness, because that’s what we do here. I’ll keep you up to speed on the latest and greatest health and nutrition info.

So you can look and feel your very best. So like, and subscribe to stay in touch. So I started out way back. As an aerobics instructor. Yep. Leg warmers and all. And then I went to grad school to become an exercise physiologist, cuz I have always loved fitness, but I’ve learned over the years that some workouts give you way more bang for your exercise buck than others.

And the one that’s by far the best return on the investment of your time. And not even too much time by the. Is resistance training. And by the end of this video, I’m gonna give you a few tips on how to do this exercise quickly and efficiently. So staying strong and healthy as you age is just gonna be automatic.

Now, the reason resistance training is the most important thing for us to focus on is because maintaining or increasing muscle mass is mission critical for healthy aging and quality of life. Now I say maintaining or increasing. You may not have what you need now, which means you need to get going on.

Building muscle muscle really protects you from the challenges that can make aging hard. We also wanna make sure we’re holding onto and building muscle because, and this is key. It’s gonna help you burn fat and the way it does, this is twofold. Muscle requires more energy. In other words, it burns more calories to build and maintain.

And muscle is the first place you can start to really improve your insulin sensitivity. So you don’t have to lose muscles you age. But if you don’t use it, you will lose it. So let’s not do that, right? Because an older people, less muscle is linked to greater, greater frailty and weakness and not being able to do normal things that really should just be easy.

So you may have trouble with things like getting out of bed, standing up from a chair, climbing the stairs or carrying groceries. We’ve all seen that person who struggles with those things. And God forbid, if they fall and break a. So you don’t want that to be you, but you know how easily and how quickly these things can get away from you.

And then it’s this long road back. But if you start now, it’s gonna be like putting savings in the bank. So you gotta make it a priority. And you can because, Hey, you are the boss of you, right. You just have to make the decision and commit, and you’re not only gonna love the way it makes you look and feel your future self is going to thank.

So when you’re working out, there are four things to focus on that will help you build and keep muscle. So let’s get into those now. Now, first, we’re gonna talk about the method and then we’ll get into recovery and diet. When you’re doing resistance training, first of all, start where you are, any starting place is great because you’re only gonna get better and improve your health from there with every single workout.

Now by resistance training, I mean, using weights that could be either free weights, your body, weight, or resistance cables, like the TRX trainer to create resistance that you work against doing a series of exercises. You’re gonna do multiple sets. Of each exercise and multiple reps of each set. So for example, if you’re doing pushups and before you freak out on me, yes, you can do these wherever you are right now, whatever your current fitness level, you can do them against a wall.

You can do ’em against a bench. You can do ’em on the floor with straight legs or bent knees. So back to those pushups, however you do. It’s an exercise. And each time you do that pushup, that’s a rep or a repetition. You’re gonna do a number of reps more on that in a bit. And a number of reps makes a set.

Okay. I want you to focus on multi-joint exercise first and foremost. These are exercises that cross more than one joint site. So for example, that would be a squat rather than just a leg extension, a tricep dip, rather than just a tricep extension. When you do multi-joint exercises like squats, step-ups burpees, pullups they are way more metabolically taxing than a single joint.

Especially one where you’re sitting on a machine. I mean, these exercises also are a lot more real world. I mean, let’s face it in life. We’re not bolted to the couch, right. So we wanna make sure we’re doing things that mirror the way we move in the real world as much as possible. So that means doing something standing versus sitting, using cables and free weights versus machines and using your body weight, doing things like yoga or Pilates.

Now for resistance training, I’ve divided the body into four parts, upper body pulling upper body pushing hips and thighs and power core. So an example of upper body pushing and upper body pushing by the way works your chest, your shoulders and your triceps. This would be things like a push up. An overhead, press a chest, press a tricep dip.

Then there’s upper body pulling. This works your lats and your biceps, and some of the rear of your shoulders. These are things like pull ups, bent over rows, upright rows, one arm rose, then there’s hips and thighs. This works your glutes and your quads and your calves these are things like lunges. Step up.

Squats pliés, and then there’s power. power core is gonna work your back. It’s gonna work all of your trunk. So back extensors and apps, and I call it power core. Cause I do things when you’re doing all of the other exercises correctly, let’s say like a squat, you’re gonna engage your power, quote core, a bend of a row.

You’re engaging your power core, push up. You’re engaging your power core, but you’re also gonna do some focus power, core exercises as well. That might be a crunch style. Sit up a stiff leg, deadlift things like this now. I wanna give you some parameters for what’s ideal in terms of repetitions and weight.

Cause one of the things I get asked all the time is how much weight should I lift, right? And I’m like, it depends as much as you can remember, you know, you wanna lift the heaviest weight that you can in good form. So here’s how that works. The best repetition range for building muscle is eight to 12 repetitions.

Now, if you can’t get to. You need to lighten the load a little bit. And if you can go past 12, you need to make it a little heavier. And here’s the news. Sorry. Don’t shoot the messenger. It should always be hard. Hard is what gives you results. It never gets easier when it gets easier. That’s awesome. You made progress.

You need to make the weight heavier. So it’s harder. Okay. This is called the principle of progression. And that says that and I quote increases in time, weight or intensity should be kept within about 10% or less each week, so that you gradually adapt to more while minimizing the risk of injury. So this is how you progressively overload your muscles with, and if you don’t do this, guess what’s gonna.

You will get stuck. You’ve heard of plateauing. That’s what will happen to you. If you keep doing the same thing, you get the same results, right? You get stuck. Now you also wanna do multiple sets of those repetitions. So let’s say we are doing. A bent over row, you would do eight to 12 repetitions and you take about a 62nd rest and then you do another set and take a rest and do another set and take a rest.

I want you to do two to four sets of each exercise. Here’s why now, when you’re first starting out and I’ll tell you when you’re first starting out, you haven’t made, because anything you do is gonna get you stronger. But once you’ve gotten past that first three to four weeks, now you’re gonna get more into it.

Multiple sets means that you’re gonna recruit and stimulate more muscle fibers. Cuz the bottom line is you only grow the muscle fibers you stimulate. So, if you just do one set, you only recruit so many muscle fibers. Each time you take a break and come back and not too long of a break, you’re pulling in more recruiting, more and more muscle fibers.

That’s why in between your sets. You wanna make sure you take a 62nd rest break, but not a 60 minute rest break. If you don’t give yourself enough of a rest then it’s just one long set, right. Then we’re really working in endurance. But if you. Give yourself a super long break, which kind of gets tempting as you get more into the workout.

All of a sudden you’re scrolling on your phone, then the problem is your body recovers. Right. And then it doesn’t have to work as hard. You don’t have to recruit more muscle fibers in. So really think about multiple sets with about 60 second rest break. So it doesn’t get aerobic. Doesn’t get turned into this cardio and you don’t allow yourself to recover too much now.

Once you get comfortable, you get to deploy some advanced strategies, things like super setting where you alternate between sets of opposing muscle groups. So maybe you’re doing a push up set, and then you’re doing a bent over row, then a push up and a bent over row. Or you can flip your repetitions for a couple weeks to shift your, your whole focus onto more power.

So maybe you’re doing three to six reps, heavy, heavy, or more endurance. You’re doing 12 to 20. Later, we can always shift things around just to kind of break through plateaus, but for now stick with where we are. I can always get the volume turned up for you. Right. All right. That’s the work really important here in the second piece?

You’ve gotta work hard and you need to recover hard. Recovery is just as important for maintaining and building lean muscle as the workout is now you’re gonna wanna work out each of those four body parts at least two times a week. And if you really wanna build probably three, if you’re significantly looking to increase that muscle mass, but you also wanna make sure you have 48 hours of rest between your workouts, and if you’re still hurting, then give yourself another day.

When you’re sore, you can help your recovery with things like foam rolling. You’ve seen those big foam rollers. Those are amazing Epson salts baths are fantastic. And my latest favorite thing, which is cold plunging, I actually have one of these in my backyard set at 52 freezing degrees and getting in that for a couple minutes can help with inflammation.

So can getting in front of some red lights. So look at the things that you can do to help with recovery. Another one that can help with recovery are microcumin chews. That’s one. I do every single. it’s really, really important to your progress that you are recovering well. So give yourself the rest time you need.

And here’s another important point. If you are sore at a joint site or sore to the touch, that is not good. That is not the same as normal muscle soreness. The day after a workout. When you work out, you create these little micro tears and then you build muscle by repairing those. And that gets you stronger.

But being sore at a joint site can mean something else. It could mean a macro tear. Like you’ve done some damage to a tendon or a ligament. So do not push through that rest and recover from those injuries. All right. Now, if you’re doing all that work, you wanna make sure you’re sure that you get the most out of it.

so that’s the third piece, your diet giving your body the right fuel. So you wanna make sure you’re giving yourself optimal protein because your body is going to need that protein to rebuild your muscles. And there’s a formula to this. The minimal amount of protein you should be getting every day to maintain your muscle.

Mass is one gram per pound of ideal lean body mass. Again, your ideal lean body. Mass is everything on your body that is not fat. You can find this out by getting a body fat scale, right? So everything that’s not fat is lean body mass. Now women usually have more body fat and less lean body mass than men.

But in general, the ideal lean body mass is gonna range from somewhere to 75 to 85% of total body weight. So example for you, you’re a woman, who’s five, six, you weigh 135 pounds and you’re 20% body fat. That means you have 108 pounds of lean body mass. So that would be 108 grams of protein divided throughout the day.

Now, if you wanna build lean muscle mass, Your protein, requirement’s going to be higher. It’s more like one gram per pound of ideal body weight, not your current weight. Right? So it’s one gram per your total body weight. Ideal. So if you’re five, six, and you weigh one 40 and your 30% body fat, your lean body mass is 98.

Okay. You wanna be 20% body fat and you wanna focus on adding 10 pounds of muscle, which is in turn is gonna help you lose some extra body fat about 15%. So you see here, the one 40 is putting on 10 pounds of muscle, one 50 dropping down 15 pounds of fat, 1 35. The muscle requires more energy to build and stay on your body and helps your body become more insulin sensitive.

Which means that you can burn fat better. So if you build muscle and keep your diet dialed in with protein first and the right macros, you will naturally lose the fat. And to get optimal protein, you’re gonna wanna make sure it is your priority. It is the first thing that you put on your plate to get what you need.

So here’s what I like to do after a workout. I love to do a loaded smoothie. That’s to me, the easiest way to do that. And I especially love my reignite wellness paleo protein, because it’s got branch chain of amino acid. So after. I’m making a loaded smoothie with that. And I’m adding in my collagen as well with a flaxseed meal, protein powder, cuz that is or protein drink, milk drink.

That’s gonna give you anywhere from 35 to 50 grams of protein right there. So I love to include that collagen peptides formula and there’s research to support that use of collagen to support muscle growth when you’re doing resistance training. So again, that’s why I use collagen. My paleo and with branch chain amino acids.

And I do that as soon as I get home from the gym, which sometimes is walking from my home gym, into the kitchen. All right. Fourth thing you’re gonna do as you build lean muscle and this is so critical is you gotta measure. Because you, what you measure and monitor you can improve. And you’ll also see if you need to make any adjustments, right?

So you’re gonna wanna get a body composition scale, not just a regular weight scale, because a body composition scale gives you measurements that really show you what’s going on on a lot of levels and how much you’re improving. The biggest thing you wanna focus on is your total weight and your lean body mass.

And that’s gonna be indicated by something called total body. Now, if you can get a segmental scale, it’s one with the handles. It’s also gonna tell you where the fats distributed and that is even better. I love both brands, InBody, and Tanita scales. I have a Tanita segmental scale, and I gotta tell you it’s so interesting.

You think. you know, where everything is. But it’s really interesting to really be able to see where that body fat is on your body. And that’s important to track because you wanna know what’s going on with what’s called your abdominal visceral fat. This is the pro-inflammatory dangerous fat, right? By the way, just as an aside, cuz I also do hip and waste measurements weekly.

I talked about doing cold plunging to help reduce inflammation while it also helps beige your white fat, which makes it easier to burn, which can help get rid of that belly fat as well. Okay. Little aside there, but again, make sure you’re testing your body fat, cuz you gotta know what your weight is made up of.

Right? A body that is 30% body fat is entirely different than a body. That’s 20% body fat. So we’ve gotta know what that weight is made up of too. Now. As you incorporate resistance training and support it with enough rest and protein. You’re gonna see both your lifting improve because you’re gonna get stronger.

You’re gonna be able to lift heavier weights, but you’re gonna see these other numbers move as well, because you’re getting healthier. Start to see your total body water. Go up your lean body mass, go up your fat mass, go down. So that’s fantastic. Plus what’s most fantastic of all is how you’re going to.

Resistance training works because it addresses the quality of life issues associated with muscle losses. We age and building lean muscle helps you control your blood sugar. And the other hallmarks of metabolic syndrome, metabolic syndrome, as you know, is a precursor to chronic disease. So you’re really attacking aging from every front by incorporating in resistance training.

You’re gonna see benefits from this, by the way. Whenever you start now, I’m saying, as you’re watching this start now, if you haven’t started yet, but whatever age you are, you are going to see benefits. I’ve seen it improve the quality of life of everyone I’ve ever worked with. So make sure you include resistance training as you work on getting healthier.

Super duper important. Also be sure to like, and subscribe to this channel. So you don’t miss out on other videos like this. In my next video, I’m gonna follow up on the conversation. We started here about protein and let you know all of the reasons protein should be your first focus when you build your plate.

See you there

for more info on this and other health topics I cover or to rate and review find me on Instagram, Facebook and my website, And don’t forget to subscribe to my show. So you won’t miss a single episode. Go to Thanks again for being with me this week.


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