What is Weight Training & What are the Benefits?
Written By: SportsShoes
Ever walked into a gym and been put off by the weights section? You are not alone! Many people go to the gym and spend hours on the cardio machines, not because they are the best machines at burning body fat or ‘toning up’, but because they don’t know where to start with weight training and fear looking stupid. With Gyms reopening, it's time to put away those fears.
What is weight training?
Weight training, weight lifting and resistance training are all terms familiar to your regular gym goer. Most of us have done some form of it either using machines or ‘free weights’ in a gym or doing press-ups and bodyweight exercises at home. The dictionary definition for resistance training is: ‘training designed to increase the body’s strength, power and muscular endurance through resistance exercise.’
WHY YOU SHOULD START WEIGHT TRAINING?
There are many reasons why people start weight training, be it to improve athletic performance, change body composition, become stronger, improve posture, increase flexibility or improve quality of life. The vast majority of people start weight training just to look better and nine times out of ten a personal trainer will hear ‘I’d like to tone up and lose fat’. Research demonstrates that weight training is the most effective way of achieving this as the focus is on maintaining and increasing muscle mass and muscle metabolism. The more muscle you have the higher your resting energy expenditure.
The benefits of weight training
There is a long list of benefits from an effective weight training programme…with the emphasis on effective! Lifting a few weights here and there with no plan or progression is the quickest way to no discernible results and a loss of interest in the gym.
In the first couple of months your strength, muscular endurance and power will increase making everyday tasks feel much easier. You will notice your posture improve through better flexibility and stronger inactive muscles. You’ll also notice a change in your muscle size and shape making your body look firmer and clothes fit better. Seeing these changes following hard work in the gym can lead to a healthier state of mind, improved self-esteem, reduced stress and a better quality of sleep. There are longer term effects too, such as:
- Lower risk of cardiovascular disease
- Reduced high blood pressure
- Lower risk of breast cancer by reducing high oestrogen levels linked to the disease
- Decreased risk of osteoporosis by building bone mass
- Reduced symptoms of PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome)
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Increase in High Density Lipoprotein (good cholesterol) and decrease in Low Density Lipoprotein (bad cholesterol)
- Reduced risk of diabetes
TIPS TO GET YOU STARTED ON WEIGHT TRAINING
Technique and control is everything when it comes to lifting weights. Walk through the weights area of a gym and a trained eye will see bad techniques everywhere. Not only is this an injury risk but it will also make an exercise less effective. Not working a muscle to its full potential on each rep or on every set of reps is only going to slow your progress. Don’t be afraid to speak to a member of staff at your gym as they are there to help you get the most out of every workout.
- 1. Start with compound exercises – these are multi-joint, multi-muscle exercises such as squats, lunges, press-ups or pulldowns. These will work all of your major muscle groups creating the most time efficient results and ensure you’re not missing any muscles.
- 2. Work all major muscles two to three times a week initially to create the quickest muscle adaptations. This will help your nervous system to recruit muscle fibres quicker and lead to greater strength gains initially.
- 3. Start with two to three sets of a weight you can lift for six to eight reps for each exercise.
- 4. Control the movement you are doing. This will stimulate more muscle and lead to a more effective session.
- 5. Make sure you are progressing your workout. If you are not progressing you are not creating new stimulus for your muscles. This will slow your results.
Advice provided by Sam Adams at BLACKLABELfitness.