Cardio-free fat loss…. Sounds like a bit of an oxymoron right? WRONG. In the next few minutes I’m going to attempt to change your whole perspective on the idea of ‘optimal physical health’ and liberate
your minds from the nonsensical, anecdotal, research-free… almost, and occasionally just plain stooupide (an aerobics instructor helped me with the spelling on that one) information that’s forced down the figurative throats of our nations unsuspecting citizens on a daily basis.
I know what you’re thinking. It’s bound to be one of these three responses:
1) “This guy’s an idiot… weights make you fat and bulky. I’m going for a run”.
To you my naive, and most likely extremely bored friend, all I can say is “good luck”. There are some people in this world who will struggle to accept change, even in the face of overwhelming evidentiary support for the contrary. Trying to change their mind equates to digging your way out of prison with a rock hammer: Even if you somehow pull it off, it’s gonna take 25 years. They will fool heartedly defend their beliefs to the death and, to be honest, I just plain don’t have time to deal with them.
2) “This sound’s interesting, but I’m not sure. It’s probably just some type of sales pitch or scam”.
I assure you I won’t profit from this post in any way… as I have no product to sell. As far as my scam artistry status goes, I’d say such a suggestion is rude and downright offensive! To repair our tattered relationship, I simply ask that you transfer $10.00 Au to Account no. 4560 0… KIDDING.
3) “Hmmm, this is not what I’ve been led to believe by the mainstream media for the most part, but what do I have to lose by reading a few lines”.
For you, my friend, I need only to quote Forrest Gump’s drill instructor: “God damn it, Gump! (that’s you) You’re a god damn genius! This is the most outstanding answer I have ever heard. You must have a goddamn I.Q. of 160. You are goddamn gifted!” But in all seriousness, if I’m able to positively influence even 1 from every 6 readers of this post (which realistically is probably an accurate hypothesis of my actual audience… hi mum) then my goal has been reached.
So to you (reader number 3) I’m simply going to explain to you my top 5 reasons for advocating weight training to those who seek fat loss, lean body mass gains and optimal physical health… Doesn’t sound too bad right? Ok, lets get started:
1) It’s simply the most effective method to lose fat.
When manipulated correctly, weight training increases insulin sensitivity, basal metabolism, and also our body’s production of the biochemical product ‘growth hormone’, all of which are essential factors in successful fat loss programs.
Studies show that particularly after the age of 21-31, growth hormone levels decrease drastically which leads to typical signs of aging (fat gain, muscle atrophy, wrinkles etc). That means, for those of you who have, uhhh, a bit more life experience… you’ve just stumbled upon your own personal fountain of youth. For the younger generation of trainees who don’t give a hoot about the aging process, boosting your growth hormone levels also increases lean muscle gain, accelerates fat loss and has many other benefits such as enhanced quality of skin texture.
Increased insulin sensitivity allows our body to make use of glucose more efficiently as a potent muscle fuel rather than a potent fat storage fuel. Diet comes into play here as well, but there’s no denying weight training plays a part.
Boosting our basal metabolism simply means our body ‘burns’ more energy throughout the day,
increasing our fat loss.
2) You gain lean body mass.
Every kilogram of muscle you have on your body burns 25 times the amount of calories per day as one kilogram of fat.
One of the biggest floors in the idea that low intensity cardiovascular training is the best way to go for fat loss is that it simply doesn’t stress the body enough to produce gains in lean tissue. Quite the opposite actually, prolonged low intensity cardio will strip off your hard earned muscles in a feeble attempt to make the body lighter.
Unfortunately, in the long run (no pun intended) this training methodology often causes more health-related problems (in the way of lingering injuries and weakened support structures throughout the body) than it prevents. Weight trained individuals build lean muscle and lose fat simultaneously. It may not be immediately more effective for “weight loss” (as you might lose a kg of fat but gain a kg of muscle), but it’s certainly more effective for “fat loss”.
3) Increased health of bodily support structures.
I somewhat alluded to this in point number 2 when I highlighted the negative body compositional effects associated with excessive low intensity cardio (LIC). So I guess we can think of LIC as the aliens from Independence Day, and the weight training as Will Smith, coming to show his suave superiority and save us from destruction!
The bearing of heavier than normal loads forces an adaptive response from the body in an effort to 1) prevent itself from being injured, and 2) make said task easier next time it will be undertaken.
In other words, your body goes “what the hell man! That was ridiculously hard… stupid brain’s off its rocker making me go around lifting cylindrical metal poles… Oh well if he’s gonna have me lifting this stuff all the time I’m gonna have to toughen up”. As such, weight trained individuals (along with exhibiting gains in lean muscle tissue) have been shown to demonstrate increased bone density, as well as increased tensile strength of ligaments and tendons.
This is a big reason weight training should be a staple part of life for elderly individuals.
An 80 year old can return to a muscular biological age of a 50 year old in 3 months with resistance training – Charles Poliquin (world famous industry leading strength coach)
4) Lowered risk of injury.
This one always surprises people, as our natural intuition tells us the opposite should be true. People think that weight trained individuals can only lift for a certain amount of time before their joints disappear into a puff of smoke like the villain in a bad cartoon. This is not so. Why? I shall reveal all in the next paragraph Kemosabe.
Injuries such as ACL strains, shoulder impingement and spinal injuries plague our community like a lingering bad smell or a terrible T.V show (such as big bang theory… bleh!). I’m sure everyone out there has either experienced it themselves or “known a guy/gal” who has thrown their back out/dislocated their shoulder etc.
It’s bad enough that old Dale down the road hurt his knee playing touch footy, but these injuries are even commonplace among professional athletes. Are they always preventable? No… If a 120kg front rower lands on your knee during the footy grand final it’s never going to end well I’m afraid. But in many cases,
these injuries are a result of a muscular imbalance around the joint caused by no, or poor, training methodologies.
One common cause of knee injuries for example, is an imbalance between quad strength and hamstring strength. You see, the stronger your muscles are, the tighter their pull around a joint. If you train well, strength levels increase on an even keel and your joint will be bulletproof (NOTE TO READER: I’m speaking figuratively here, don’t come sue me after you test this out with your mate’s rifle).
But if your entire fitness regime revolves around bouncing up and down within a limited range of motion (for example, in a body pump class) hammering your quad muscles and completely ignoring your hamstrings, don’t cry to me when you change directions one day and your knee explodes like the death star… I warned you.
Unfortunately most people have no clue how to effectively test for, locate, and repair these muscle imbalances… Fortunately for those of you who’ve elected to train with me, I do know how to locate them J.
5) It makes you stronger.
Yes I know exactly what you’re thinking – that one could fit into Eric Bana’s ‘great derr’s of history’
right… 3, 2, 1, “DERRRRRR!”
But in all seriousness, this is a huge benefit of weight training and one of which the importance is continually understated. Too often people misconstrue the benefits of strength building to be limited to sports stars, or lame 30-something men who are trying to prove that their bench press is superior to that of the other single 30 year old man who enters the gym at the same time as them each week.
Increased strength has a myriad of benefits for the average Joe (or Joanne). Actually, I’d go as far as saying there isn’t a person on earth who couldn’t benefit somewhat from being a little stronger.
For people in physically demanding jobs (labourers, fitters, removalists etc) it can make your day much easier, as well as less stressful (another huge health factor which I may discussing detail in future articles).
For self-defence, as well as those employed in security or law and order based jobs it can be the difference between life and death. If I’m tussling with a would-be criminal over my gun, personally I’d like to be the one with superior forearm strength… wouldn’t you?
For the elderly, increased strength can prevent falls and loss of balance and effectively prevent serious injury or worse. In some cases the benefit can also be as simple as being able to complete day to day activities without assistance.
I’m just getting started here… there’s still things like increased speed, corrected posture, decreases in muscle atrophy, improved self esteem yada yada yada. The list could go on forever.
I’ll simply leave you with this. A study at Tufts University in Boston set out to discover the top predictors of longevity – in other words they wanted to figure what makes us live the longest. Any guesses what the number one predictor turned out to be? Strength levels and muscle mass (see number 2 on my list).
So there we are: Ryan’s top 5. If you’re not convinced yet… it’s unlikely you will ever be.
Keep in mind that I’m truly only scratching the surface here… I originally was going to put my top 10, but I realised it was getting slightly out of hand and most people don’t have 4 hours to sit around reading internet articles written by some extremely handsome young go-getter.
Hopeful as I am that I’ve convinced you that most of the ab-toning, spin-class, shake-weight (really… they must know it just looks like a penis), zumba and pump class farcery is simply a profit based ideal
which will not provide many (if any) long term health benefits…
I still know there’s a few of you that will ignore it and continue on your merry way. Again, all I can say is “good luck, maybe I’ll see you in 25 years”.