Why more of us are heading straight to the weights
Resistance training is a hot topic at the moment, particularly for women. Whilst most of us will probably agree that some form of resistance training is beneficial, perhaps even essential, there is still a hugely divided opinion about what type, how often and at what intensity is best. Some people will tell you that women should not lift heavy weights as it will build an unsightly muscular physique, others will tell us that this is nonsense and that the opposite is true, whilst others are still convinced that you can get all of the challenge your body needs through various forms of primarily bodyweight training methods including pilates and yoga.
In truth, all approaches have their merits, and regardless of the differing opinions, the overall shift towards women and resistance training is a hugely positive one, with benefits such as improved posture, increased strength, fat loss and increased muscle tone. How much and what type of resistance training you should do will depend on where you are at currently and your particular goals, a combination is probably optimal for the right balance of muscle tone, strength and flexibility.
Although most of what we read about resistance training refers predominantly to the aesthetic benefits, perhaps more importantly we should consider the postural and structural benefits it brings. We will always have a degree of imbalance, it is how the body works, but over time many of us rely too heavily on the over active muscles at the front of our body, whilst the hugely important muscles at the back of the body become lethargic and often under developed.
The biggest player in this might be prolonged periods of sitting, where the hips tighten and the back slouches and rounds, weakening the back of the body. The leap from a sedentary day at the office to a grueling HIIT session might not be the best idea before developing some strength, a decent form and skill with weights. Increased muscle tone in the muscles at the back of the body, which are collectively referred to as the posterior chain, is essential if your goal is to look good, but also to move well and to live pain free.
You will probably also find that, done correctly with short rest periods, strength based training will significantly elevate your heart rate and provide you with a decent cardiovascular workout at the same time.
6 reasons to choose strength training over boring steady state cardio
1. You Will Burn More Calories
Strength training, unlike running and other slow cardio, builds muscle and muscle burns more calories per day. For each pound of muscle you gain your body will burn an additional 35-50 calories each day. You do the math.
2. You Will Lose More Fat
‘Joggers’ tend to lose both fat and muscle, which doesn’t necessarily improve your shape and makes you more likely to gain the lost pounds back quicker. Weight training protects the muscle, which in turn torches more fat.
3. Your Clothes Will Fit Better
A better way of measuring your results than simply staring at the scales, is to see how your clothes fit. 1lb of muscle is more dense than 1lb of fat, takes less space and gives you a perkier shape.
4. You Will Have Better Posture
Develop good structural balance and your muscles will be better coordinated and contribute towards correct posture by assisting in the prevention of muscle atrophy and injury as we age.
5. You Will Reduce Your Risk Of Injury, Back Pain And Arthritis
By improving the strength of not only your muscles but also your connective tissues you will improve joint stability, flexibility and help prevent injury.
6. You Will Decrease Your Risk Of Osteoporosis
Strength training can increase spinal bone mineral density and enhance bone modeling. Combined with a balanced nutritional program it can significantly reduce the risk of osteoporosis as we get older.
7. You Will Feel More Happy & Confident
As a result you will be healthier with a stronger immune system, look better and perhaps most importantly feel better too. This will make everyday daily tasks a little easier and life a whole lot more enjoyable.
Jean-Claude Vacassin is one of the UK's most sought after personal trainers and owner of West London personal training gym W10 Performance. The team’s unique no-nonsense approach to training and nutrition with its’ unbeatable atmosphere has firmly established W10 as the 'go to' gym for anyone who is keen to see serious results. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 0203 489 5428 at W10 Performance, The Basement, 202 – 208 Kensal Road, London W10 5BN