Weight Training

Why train with weights?

Suggest to someone they need to start training to lose weight and they immediately think of endless hours on treadmills or exercise bikes. The virtues and values of aerobics as the way to exercise have been extolled and universally celebrated for years. The health benefits of weight training meanwhile, have been marginalised to that of the bodybuilder and improving sports performance.

Throughout this time, Dominic has continually championed the use of weight training as the most effective form of personal exercise. Start training with weights if you are looking to lose weight, gain weight or simply improve your general health.

More recently, the traditional perception of weight training has undergone a revitalisation. Scientific evidence now suggests it produces powerful improvements in health status. University of South Carolina researchers have determined that total-body strength is linked to lower risks of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. Similarly, other scientists have found that being strong during middle age is associated with “exceptional survival”. This is defined as living to the age of 85 without developing a major disease.

If you thought strength training is just for Schwarzenegger-wannabes, then think again!

Weight training image of woman squatting with weight bar

Why building muscle is important for successful weight loss

Successful weight loss starts at the cellular level. Muscle cells burn the most calories, they are responsible for 90% of the calories we burn every day. Muscle cells make up most of our lean body weight. This accounts for a large proportion of energy burned in our basal metabolic rate.

Our muscle cells burn more calories because they are responsible for every movement. These cells need maintaining, proteins need to be replaced on a daily basis and energy systems must be prepared for contraction at any time. These processes all require energy so even at rest muscle cells constantly burn calories to maintain life!

Every pound of muscle added to the body of an adult female requires an additional 75-100 calories per day just to keep it alive. The average person can add enough muscle to burn an additional 3,500 calories per week by training with weights.

In addition, when you build muscle, you automatically reduce your percentage of body fat. And, you look better too. Muscle mass is approximately half as big as the mass of fat deposits. That means that while 5lbs of fat is approximately the size of three grapefruits, 5lbs of muscle is more like three tangerines.

Therefore, if you are exercising to lose weight, don’t be surprised if you actually gain weight. This is not a bad thing! It means you are building muscle mass, and you will look much slimmer than before.

It’s becoming evidently clear that the building and maintaining of muscle through controlled weight training is a vitally important part of the process of losing weight. It is also equally as important in achieving sustainable long term health benefits. Weight training also strengthens bones and connective tissues as well as muscles, making for added support to go along with your fitness routine.

Aerobics vs weight training - exploding some of the myths!

It’s important to understand what the myths and facts concerning aerobics are before beginning an exercise programme, in order to get maximum results. A fitness programme should be a combination of workouts. Not just cardio or weight training alone, the key is balance. There are a few myths out there that will hinder weight loss, and maybe even cause injury. It’s best to learn the truth about aerobic exercise and its benefits before you begin an exercise regime.

The bias towards ‘aerobics’ in the fitness industry and media stems from a common misunderstanding. The function of the cardiovascular system is to support the muscular system – not the other way round! If the human body is logical (and we assume that it is) then increases in muscular strength (from a proper weight training programme) will correlate to improvements in cardiovascular function.

‘Aerobic’ literally means “with oxygen”. Most of us have been taught that to exercise using aerobics is to perform long duration steady-state activities which produce an elevated heart rate. Low intensity training is said to stress the aerobic metabolic pathway allowing the body to use fat as a fuel. However, elevated heart rate is not an indicator of exercise intensity, exercise effect or exercise value. It is quite possible to experience a fast pulse, breathlessness and profuse sweating without achieving valuable exercise!

Weight tarining image of overweight man on treadmill

‘Aerobics’ is also thought to provide an increase in endurance and provide a protective effect against coronary artery disease. We agree that there are some marginal benefits to the cardiovascular system from a programme of aerobics. However, these effects could be achieved more efficiently and safely through the use of controlled, high-intensity weight training.

Overtraining is also not the answer to losing weight faster. Overtraining can actually cause more harm than good, because it can lead to injuries and/or exhaustion. In addition, long and strenuous cardio workouts for an extended amount of time can actually cause you to lose muscle tissue size, which is vital for burning more calories.

So what’s wrong with aerobics?

  • ‘Aerobics’ is not the most effective form of exercise to help lose weight! Steady state activities such as running, cycling etc do not burn a significant number of calories! One pound of fat can fuel the body for up to 10 hours of continuous activity. Doing ‘Aerobics’ is simply inefficient for this purpose!
  • The most important contribution that exercise makes to a fat loss programme is the maintainance of muscle tissue while fat is lost. Weight training is the only reliable method of maintaining muscle tissue. Aerobics can actually cause you to lose muscle tissue!
  • ‘Aerobic’ activities can be harmful! Running is an extremely high-force activity that is damaging to knees, hips and back. Dance Aerobics is probably worse. So-called ‘low-impact’ classes or activities like stationary cycling are not necessarily low-force. Overuse injuries are cumulative and we are often not aware that we have them until it is too late. In time, the enthusiastic aerobics participant or jogger will probably pay the price for all that ‘healthy’ activity. If that price is a decrease or loss of mobility in one’s later years, then ‘aerobics’ may have effectively shortened the individuals natural life-span.