Weight Lifting for Weight Loss and a Healthier Heart

Very often people avoid weight training for fear of ending up looking overly pumped. However it has been proven that weight training can result in more weight loss per workout than a cardio session. If (for women) it is a fear of looking too muscular, then just remember that due to low testosterone levels women cannot put on large muscles like their male counterparts, instead these muscles become more defined. Also it’s worth bearing in mind that weight training and body building are completely different things.

So, what are some of the lesser known benefits of weight training? According to Charlotte Anderson of ‘Shape’, adding just two sessions of weight lifting to your week can reduce body fat by 3%, without reducing calories. One of the greatest benefits of weight lifting is that it continues burning up those pesky calories for up to 24 hours after the weight training session. You can also lose that extra tyre around your waist more effectively with weight lifting than with cardio. A study done at the University of Alabama showed that women who lifted weights lost more intra-abdominal fat (deep belly fat) than those just doing cardio. And lets face it – the belly weight is the killer for most of us, both literally and aesthetically.

In a journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercises, they say women who lifted heavier weights with lesser reps for the same amount of time burned nearly twice as many calories. So get down to kettle bells or get into the gym and begin to increase the weight of your lifts gradually for a more effective workout. Lifting weights is used not only to build strength, but to help prevent injury by protecting the joints with an increase in surrounding muscle. Consistent weight lifting also helps to maintain bone density in the fight against osteoporosis.

Weight lifting may help reduce Metabolic Syndrome by up to 37%, which according to Science Daily is a cluster of risk factors linked to heart disease and diabetes. The risk factor signs for metabolic syndrome are – large waist (more than 40 inches for men and 35 for women), high triglyceride levels, reduced levels of HDL (good cholesterol), elevated blood pressure and high glucose levels. People showing three or more of these risk factors are considered to have metabolic syndrome.

So how do you avoid injury while weight lifting? On topendsports, Michael Stefano advises some important things to remember when lifting weights. The first is to apply perfect form. Get reliable instruction to this effect whether it be from a trainer or a book. Move slowly and avoid jerky movements. Keep the core strong and don’t lock the joints. Keep the negative phase twice as long as the positive phase. Also, in order to work to the right level of intensity within your workout, always work to some level of muscle fatigue.

Your entire work out should be no more than 10-15 sets of reps. Do a warm up of a five minute walk or run before your sets. Keep a recovery time of one minute or less between each set to keep your heart rate up. In order to allow the body rest and recovery time, keep at least 48 hours between each workout, so on average three sessions a week. Do exercises that work on more than one muscle group at a time for greater calorie burn.

Considering all of these benefits, the next time you’re at the gym perhaps you’ll think twice before you decide to leave the dumb bells to the body builders!

Kathryn Reynolds