As personal trainers, one of the most common issues we hear is people complaining that they are working out regularly, eating healthily and yet seeing no results in their weight loss. Our immediate response is to enquire about their weight training regime, only to hear, time and time again, from both men and women “I don’t lift weights because I don’t want to bulk up”.
Weight training has been given a certain stigma due to the oiled up bodybuilders that we see in the media. While extreme muscle growth can occur from weight lifting, you must remember that bodybuilders make a living out of their muscles, they spend around 10 hours lifting incredibly heavy weights and survive on a diet of testosterone and pure protein.
The average gym-goer should not be afraid of weights, and here at Fitness First clubs we want to squash the myths about weight training and inform you of all the benefits that lifting weights has on your body.
Lifting weights helps you burn more calories
While cardio is a major component of burning calories and losing fat, you should supplement cardio activities with weight training to achieve the best results.
While it is true that you burn calories through cardio exercise, once you finish the exercise you rapidly stop burning calories. After an intense session of cardio your body may continue to burn calories for around an hour, however studies have shown that after weight training workouts, your metabolism is sped up for over 24 hours afterwards. This increase in metabolic rate enables your body to burn calories even while you are resting, which means more fat is shed overall.
Contrary to popular belief weight training will help you to slim down as opposed to beefing up.
It’s a common myth that cardio alone is enough to melt the fat away. When researchers put two exercise groups to the test, one group doing cardio, the other weights and cardio, they found that on average both groups lost 21 pounds. However, the weight lifting group’s loss consisted of pure fat, whereas the group who did not lift lost a combination of muscle and fat.
While muscle loss may drop the numbers on your scales, it doesn’t do anything to improve your physical appearance. Weight lifters will soon notice that although their weight may be increasing on the scales, their waist inches are rapidly decreasing.
Strengthens your bones
Consistently lifting weights can protect your bones from age-related problems such as osteoporosis.
By the time we reach the age of 70 we lose nearly 55% of our muscle mass. Research has shown that people who lifted weights reduced their chances of bone loss and could even build new muscle.
Other studies revealed that postmenopausal women who participated in weight training increased their bone density dramatically during the course of a year, particularly in areas that osteoporosis affects such as the hips and pelvis.
If you are regularly participating in strength exercises which naturally improve your balance and coordination, you are also less likely to become vulnerable to falls and accidents, lowering the risk of bone-related fractures leading to osteoporosis.
Tones you up
Ever wonder how people get that perfect toned physique? Cardio alone isn’t enough. While it will help to shed fat from difficult areas, without the help of weights you will be left with loose skin and flat features.
Adding a set of toning exercises with your cardio workout will help to tighten your muscles and squeeze you into shape. Often we have muscles which are being hidden away by fat that won’t budge from troublesome areas, weight exercises help to coax the muscles out, giving you a much more defined body.
It could improve your intelligence
Lifting weights could improve your mental functionality as well as your physique.
Brazilian researchers found that 6 months of resistance weight training boosted participants’ cognitive functions. The added weight sessions helped short-term memory, improved verbal reasoning and developed a longer attention span.
This may be due to the different aspects of resistance training, as your brain is stimulated by different activities as opposed to getting used to the same physical processes that you would find in a simple cardio workout.
Cuts your gym time in half
Implementing weights into your training means that you see results quicker, it also reduces the time spent in the gym building up your cardio repertoire.
If you are struggling for time but still want a good full body workout, choose an exercise that combines weights and cardio together such as circuit training. Circuit training combines dynamic bursts of high intensity cardio with concentrated weight training activities. Or simply decrease the amount of time spent on the treadmill, swapping the last 10 minutes for weight training.
Don’t feel intimidated
Hopefully, we’ve done enough to encourage you to want to start adding weights into your workout routines. However, if you’re still a little confused about where to start, then there are plenty of other ways to implement weights into your fitness plan.
One of our most popular classes, Body Pump, uses weight repetition with barbells to get you into shape. It’s a high-intensity workout which can burn around 600 calories per class so it’s perfect for anyone wanting to kick start their fitness today.