"Should I start strength training?"

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"I have 110 pounds to lose. Should I add strength training to my workout plan now or stick with only cardio until I am at a lower weight?" – Cindy

Expert: Joan Pagano, health and fitness coach, and author of Strength Training For Women. joanpaganofitness.com

Don’t shy away from resistance training just because your goal is weight loss; remember, you are looking to lose fat, not metabolically active muscle, which will actually help you on your way to your fat-loss goal! Building muscle will help increase your base metabolic rate, so you will burn more calories all day long, even when you aren't exercising.

I would recommend that you begin with lighter weights in order to gradually strengthen your muscles and joints. As you get stronger, you will be able to increase the intensity and duration of your cardio workouts, which will in turn increase your calorie burn during – and after – each session.

Start by working with a resistance that you can handle in good form for 1 to 2 sets of 15 repetitions. To protect your knees, begin with body weight–supported (e.g. seated or machine-based) exercises like the leg extension, hamstring curl and leg press. Also, do a few sets of standing calf raises to strengthen your lower legs and ankles, and add some push-ups against the wall to strengthen your upper body. Perhaps most importantly, remember to stretch after every workout to help improve flexibility and reduce muscle soreness in the days following your workout.

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