A modern day gym or fitness centre has many training options available, from cardio equipment, to functional training areas. Each of these various training methods has its own benefits; however, weight training has always been PT Steve Watson’s preferred means of exercise for good reasons. Below he lists the many benefits associated to weight training, explaining the reasons why it’s important incorporate weight training into a fitness regime:
Improved muscle strength and bone density
It is somewhat of a fallacy that weight training is for ‘young bucks’ and that the older populations should seek exercise elsewhere. If anything, the aging population should focus more on weight bearing exercise. This is because as we age, our body begins to lose bone density and muscle strength due to cell degradation. One of the best ways to prevent this from happening and even reverse these ill effects is by putting the body under appropriate strain, to signal that you do in fact still need strong bone and muscle tissue. The best way to do this is progressively increasing the resistance that you place your body under – perfectly achievable via the use of weight training!
Increased testosterone and growth hormone
A healthy body is reliant on a well-oiled endocrine system, regulated in perfect balance to deliver the correct hormonal levels for day-to-day activity. The regulation of both testosterone and growth hormone is key for energy, mood, metabolism and sex-drive. Exercise in itself is great for the up-regulation of both these hormones; however, weight training is particularly beneficial. Craig et al. 1989 study demonstrated such benefits, with subjects’ serum testosterone and GH level increasing as a result of 45 minutes resistance training. This further proves the benefits of this form of training for anyone looking to gain muscle mass, whilst keeping body fat low.
Although conventional wisdom for burning fat points you in the direction of running and cycling (which are great and certainly do lead to a reduction in calories), however weight training can also be used to burn off even more fat!
In order to get such results, it is important to reduce the rest time between sets whilst you are weight training or even eliminating rest completely. Some of the best fat-loss clients and myself have achieved is from weight training regimes in a circuit training format: moving from one exercise to the next over a 20-30 minute course of time. This can lead to 2-fold fat loss benefits: the first being the enabler to boost your metabolism during the exercise and the fat burning effects experienced up to 48 hours post-exercise. This is caused by excessive post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), elicited by training at a very high intensity and considerable oxygen demand. Weight training puts the body into a big oxygen deficit, ultimately leading to EPOC and more fat reduction.
For all the points above, the desired effects increase if you focus on performing multi-joint, compound exercise such as squat, deadlift and bench press. These are exercises that recruit the most fibres and put the body under more strain, leading to better results. Prior to implementing a new weight training regime it’s advisable to contact a fitness professional such as a strength and conditioning coach or personal trainer to ensure technique is being executed safely.
Craig B.W. et al. 1989. Effects of progressive resistance training on growth hormone and testosterone levels in young and elderly subjects. Mechanisms of aging and development. 49 (2).
Written by TPW Writer Steve Watson (BSc Exercise Science) @ste_watson_fitness