With more than half of the global population expected to be overweight by 2035, personal trainers and online health influencers are hoping to get their clients and followers to adopt a new mindset towards weight training – The fact that it can be even more effective than cardio for losing weight is helping them drive their message home.
Poor nutrition, bad dieting habits, and immediate access to fast foods are continuing to upend our efforts to stay in shape, even with our renewed interest in health and fitness. Unfortunately, millions of people still automatically assume that the only way to lose weight is by “spinning their wheels” on treadmills for hours on end.
While consistent cardio workouts can be an effective weight loss strategy for some people, cardio simply isn’t for everyone. Fortunately, weight training can be a surprisingly effective method for achieving sustainable weight loss results, especially when married with a nutritious, protein-rich diet.
And the benefits of weight training certainly don’t end once you step on a scale.
We spent some time in Canary Wharf on the east end of London talking with the area’s top fitness professionals to find out more about the many benefits of weight training, including the theories suggesting that building more muscle mass can be equally, if not more effective, at burning unwanted fat than running for hours on a treadmill.
What is Weight Training?
Also known as strength or resistance training, weight training is a term for any physical activity that increases muscle mass via the use of weighted objects such as barbells, kettlebells, or “weight machines” that you would find in a gym.
Another muscle building strategy that’s emerging as a popular technique now being used by personal trainers is bodyweight training; a form of resistance training that allows the individual to use their own bodyweight as the primary means of resistance. The allure of bodyweight training is that it allows you to build muscle mass without needing to use any additional equipment. For example, pushups, squats, and certain forms of yoga can all be considered bodyweight exercises.
Weight Training: A Wide Array of Benefits
One thing our trip to Canary Wharf revealed is that the benefits of weight training go much further than larger-sized biceps. When we include muscle-strengthening exercises in our fitness routines, it inevitably leads to an improvement in all the ways that our body physically functions. We simply feel better. In fact, by including weight training actives in our workout regimen, we enjoy an almost a 20 percent lower risk of suffering from ailments like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, even cancer. Hell, studies even show that weight training is a contributing factor to living a longer life.
It’s hardly a secret that weight training can do great things for our physicality, but our personal trainer friends in London asked us to stop and consider how good exercise feels, especially once we’re done. After all, there’s a reason someone coined the term “runner’s high.” Based on our research, we learned that weight training can be powerful strategy for enhancing our mental health as well.
A closer look at the benefits of weight training reveals connections to lower levels of depression and anxiety, and suggests that weight training can also play a role in improving our self-confidence.
However, if you’re among the 52% of the global population that’s actively trying to lose weight, you’re probably most interested in how weight training can help you burn fat.
Weight Training for Weight Loss
Sorry cardio advocates. There’s plenty of evidence to show that weight training is no less effective than aerobic exercise in terms of helping people shed those unwanted pounds.
Here’s the science: weight training increases the amount of muscle mass in our bodies, and that means our bodies are burning more calories throughout the day, including while we’re at rest. In other words, adding muscle mass via weight training stimulates our metabolism – a huge factor in sustainable weight loss. This is especially true when our weight training is augmented with a nutritious diet that focuses on getting the proper amounts of the macronutrient protein.
If you’re still not convinced, consider a report that shows how our resting metabolism can stay elevated for nearly 40 hours after strength training, while no such increase was apparent with cardio exercises.
Quite simply, if you build more muscle mass with weight training, your body burns more calories all day long.
Our bodies are engineered to function at their best when all the individual muscles and joints in our bodies are properly aligned. This is especially true when we consider our spine. Unfortunately, society’s lack of focus on improving posture often leads to neck and lower back ailments which can subsequently impact our mood and mental health. That’s why focusing on improving our posture should be an essential part of our efforts to stay fit.
The good news is that weight training is an excellent means of correcting your posture and can even reverse the effects of deteriorating muscles that have been neglected. For example, when we slouch, we’re not using our muscles efficiently which has a weakening effect on them. Weight training corrects this damage by stimulating muscle growth and improving bone density.
This is also an example of how enlisting the assistance of a personal trainer can yield remarkable results. When you work with a personal trainer, a crucial part of their job is to assess how you move and perform your exercises to ensure that you’re doing them correctly which contributes significantly towards improving your posture.
Nutrition: The Secret to Successful Weight Training
Quite literally, we are what we eat. Unfortunately, that’s not saying much today. In fact, the personal trainers we talked to said that our diets and poor nutrition can be huge liabilities when it comes to sustainable fat loss. Fortunately, this is a problem that’s very much in our control.
The benefits of weight training are much more profound when we focus on nutrition at the same time, including getting the proper amount of protein: a key macronutrient that’s made up of amino acids. Amino acids are what our bodies need to build muscle mass and strong bone tissue. In fact, protein can also be used by our bodies as an energy source.
Not only can weight training be a powerful weight loss strategy, but it’s also important to understand that you can really accelerate your results by eating protein-rich foods like yogurt, lean meats, poultry, eggs, and peanuts.
If you want to experience the full benefits of weight training and muscle building, it’s always a good idea to connect with an expert like a personal trainer who can help you avoid common mistakes. Remember to keep it fun while also sticking to a nutritional diet that prioritizes protein sources.