I was in the ‘free weights’ zone of a gym a couple of weeks ago and experienced a very rare occurrence: More women than men were training with free weights.
Now, this is a big change. Although the change seems to be arising predominantly in the young. The message still needs to be spread broadly.
After all, I still regularly get told: “I don’t want to get too big” once a female client starts lifting weights. It’s a concern that actually spans gender and age.
Resistance training, in fact, is less about getting big or developing significant musculature. Rather, like cardiovascular training, it has many benefits in improving key health markers and quality of life. Studies have shown that resistance training has led to a long-term reduction in blood pressure. A 3.9mmHg systolic and 3.6mmHg diastolic drop was found. A drop of this magnitude would lead to a 4% decrease in mortality and an 8-14% reduction in having a stroke.
What’s more, resistance training has been shown to improve strength, balance and movement capabilities as well as proving important in fights against osteoporosis.
The first benefit resistance training will have is that you’ll be burning more calories post-workout. An added average of 150-300Kcals per day has been found previously. On its own, this is useful rather than spectacular, however as a major supermarket chain reiterates –
Every little helps! An additional point to note, is that it has been found that following a cardio workout, people will invariably eat more and move less for the rest of the day whilst those who have performed resistance training don’t gain such an appetite and will also feel less drained and as such continue to move throughout the day.
So, if performing resistance training leads to greater calorie burn post-workout, why did I say it was good and bad for weight reduction?
Primarily, it’s because muscle weighs more than fat. Once you perform resistance training, you will develop stronger and slightly bigger muscles. This won’t make you look big, and in fact, it will provide greater shape, confidence and significant health benefits. Nonetheless, it may result in a period of steadiness on the scales ie, your weight doesn’t drop at the speed you’d like.
Instead, rejoice in the fact that a greater amount of fat-free mass ie, lean tissue, will result in higher metabolism and increase calorie burn. There have also been studies which have discovered that upon calorie-restricted diets, those who undertook resistance training versus cardio training maintained a higher metabolism thus resulting in a more effective long-term strategy to weight loss.
Keeping it simple
However, as you can imagine, I advocate a quite rounded approach to fitness. Buying Herbalife or running every day until your knees give way is not going to cut it. Instead, keep things simple:
- Calorie controlled consumption levels
- Cardiovascular training (1-2 times per week high intensity training and/or longer steady state cardio)
- Resistance training (2 times per week – targeting the whole body)
Take one of these three away and your results suffer. Take two of these away and long-term there will be no results. Resistance training is important, so resist it no more.
If you are looking for ideas for your resistance and cardio training, why not download our FREE Working out at Home guide. Plus if you want more guidance on nutrition, you can download our Nutrition in a Nutshell guide.