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 Exercise: Does It Work For The Overfat Population?  
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Keeping Fit by . View all columns in series

The exercise intensity is increased gradually by means of a double progressive training system, in which the participant alternately adds repetitions and resistance. For example, a trainee who does a repetition with 50 pounds continues to use this resistance until she performs 12 repetitions. After 12 repetitions are completed, she increases the weightload by five percent to 52.5 pounds. When she performs 12 repetitions with this resistance she increases the weightload to 55 pounds.

To ensure productive training each repetition is performed in six seconds, with two seconds for the lifting movement and four seconds for the lowering movement. This technique reduces the role of momentum and makes the important negative muscle contraction more demanding. The goal is to make every repetition count, so that one properly performed set of exercise provides sufficient stimulus for muscle development.

Our experience indicates that this basic program of strength and endurance exercise is a safe and effective means for improving physical fitness and body composition in men and women of all ages. It is also a time-efficient approach to training, requiring only 50 minutes of exercise two or three times per week. Perhaps more significant in our sedentary society, it is a program that produces particularly good results for overweight individuals who have varying percentages of body fat. Getting back to basic exercise may be the key for adults who want to attain and maintain a desirable body weight and body composition.

Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D., is fitness research director at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, MA. and author of the new Nautilus book, Building Strength and Stamina. Jane Guy,M.Ed., is a fitness research instructor and data analyst at the South Shore YMCA.


Ballor, D. and Poehlman, E. (1994). Exercise training enhances fat-free mass preservation during diet-induced weight loss: a meta analytical finding. International Journal of Obesity, 18: 35-40.

Brehm, B. and Keller, B. (1990). Diet and exercise factors that influence weight and fat loss. IDEA Today, 8: 33-46.

Campbell, W., Crim, M., Young, V. and Evans, W. (1994). Increased energy requirements and changes in body composition with resistance training in older adults. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 60: 167-175.

Centers for Disease Control. (1989). Physical activity, physical fitness, and health: Time to act. Journal of the American Medical Association, 262: 2437.

Harvard Health Letter (1994). Obesity increases in U. S. 5:6 (November).

New York Times News Service (1991). Considering diet plan? "Forget it" says experts. April 2.

Tufts University Diet and Nutrition Letter (1992). An IQ test for losers. 10: 6-7 (March).

Westcott, W. and Guy, J. (1996). A physical evolution. IDEA Today, 14 (9): 58-65.

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 About The Author
Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D., is fitness research director at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, MA. He is strength training consultant for numerous national organizations, such as the American Council on Exercise, the......moreWayne Westcott PhD
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