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MASTER CLASS: Good weight management includes strength training

by Matt Parrott | March 29, 2021 at 1:47 a.m.
Beverly Lindberg does step 8 of the Push Up and Twist Under on March 16 at Little Rock Athletic Club, where she is a personal trainer. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Celia Storey)

Physical fitness is generally a topic that galvanizes groups of people and is rarely divisive. However, weight management is the one subcategory that draws out passionate opinions based on individual experiences.

This week, I will present a few facts that could make it possible to broach the subject of weight management without causing World War III. Plus, I will share an exercise that is perfect for inclusion in a weight-management program.

There is so much misinformation in the health and wellness industry about how to lose, gain or maintain weight that people cannot tell truth from fiction. Some people believe it is as simple as "calories in, calories out," while others insist upon extreme dietary adjustments such as cutting out all carbohydrates.

The problem is, the industry has been overrun by self-proclaimed health gurus who prey on people's insecurity and self-doubt. Weight management is a very personal problem that millions of Americans struggle with, physically and mentally. Ethically, the topic should be approached with science-based information that is backed by peer-reviewed research that has been replicated.

Unfortunately, that's not the usual case. At any given time, The New York Times bestseller list includes at least one title introducing a new and improved weight management technique or a plan that has no basis in reality or science. Often, the books are written by an M.D. or Ph.D, degrees that lend credibility to the nonsense.

My advice is to block out the misinformation and gather your personal health data, data not based on a one-size-fits-all approach but unique to you. Start by evaluating your resting metabolic rate. This is the number of calories the body burns at rest in a given day, and it changes throughout life. A physician can determine your resting metabolic rate by running one of many tests, and the number is critical to understanding any personal weight-management situation.

Once resting metabolic rate is known, the "calories in, calories out" equation generally holds true. But it's also possible to increase resting metabolic rate through strength training. The higher percentage of muscle mass one maintains, the higher their resting metabolic rate will be. This is why strength training should be a critical component of any weight-management program.

This week's exercise is a great example of strength training to increase resting metabolic rate without equipment. The Push Up and Twist Under movement is appropriate for most fitness levels, and can be modified a few different ways.

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1. Get into the "up" phase of a pushup.

2. Lower your torso by bending the elbows and perform one pushup. As soon as you finish it, bring your right foot underneath your body to the left as far as you can.

3. Once you reach your limit, bring the right foot back to the starting point.

4. Push up again, then do the twist under with the left foot moving underneath the body to the right.

Pushing up will help build muscle in the shoulders, arms and chest. The "twist under" motion will help build core strength and stability.

This is one of my favorite exercises for overall efficiency, and to modify it, beginners can simply perform the "twist under" without the pushup. As strength increases, it is easy to sprinkle in a pushup every few repetitions. Now, let's get to work!

Matt Parrott has a doctorate in education (sport studies) and a master's in kinesiology and is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine. You can contact him at


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