If you've been inactive and are resolving to get into shape this year, strength training (working out with weights) can give you a motivational boost that'll get you off to a flying start. It's true that cardiovascular exercise -- running, walking, cycling, using cardio machines and so on -- is a fitness must. But if you want early, visible results, you'll need to include strength training in your exercise plan.

  • You don't need to devote a lot of time. Working out with weights for as little as 20 minutes 2 or 3 days a week can go far.
  • You need to leave at least 48 hours between strength-training workouts. (This gives the muscles time to repair and strengthen.)
  • To see positive results quickly, you should focus on the major muscle groups; you should also work each muscle group from more than one range of motion. Not sure how? Consult a personal trainer to develop a personal strategy and learn proper form for each of the exercises.