Welcome back to the second instalment on the benefits of weight training. In this post we talk about the health and confidence benefits that can be derived. Let’s start with health.
Most people don’t realise the hormonal benefits of weight training. Weight training increases both testosterone and growth hormone, two fantastic hormones for improving body composition. They both increase muscle, reduce fat and improve vitality.
Testosterone is generally considered a male hormone, but it’s crucial for women too. Women have around 8 to 10 times less testosterone circulating around their bodies but what little they do have has many important functions. It helps maintain sexual desire, helps with maintenance of a more desirable body composition, improves energy levels and vitality and improves mood and concentration, amongst other things. In general, the same sorts of lifestyle choices shown to optimise testosterone levels in men also improve levels in women.
It’s worth noting that the production of testosterone is impaired by obesity. That makes weight training an even more important tool in the weight loss arsenal for obese people.
Weight training also improves insulin sensitivity. Insulin is the hormone that helps keep your blood sugar stable and shuttles nutrients into muscles and other cells. If you lead a sedentary lifestyle you can become insulin resistant, which means your blood sugar is not controlled within the normal ranges, leading to numerous health problems. Left unchecked, this insulin resistance can lead to type 2 diabetes. It is in everyone’s interests to improve insulin sensitivity. All exercise will help with this, but weight training is especially effective, in part because of the retention or increase in muscle mass.
- Fat loss
Weight training is great at improving body composition. It has a lasting effect on metabolism due to the ‘after burn’ associated with it. Done intensely it is as effective, if not more so, than HIIT at creating the after burn. This is a major reason why, done consistently, weight training is so effective for weight management.
The more weight training you do the more you can benefit from it, for two reasons. First, the stronger you are the more work you can do in the gym and the more calories you can burn. Second, the long term effect of weight training is increased muscle mass. This extra muscle burns around 6-10 calories per pound compared to fat which burns around 2 calories per pound. So, if you lose 3 stone of fat and replace it with a stone of muscle, you’ll be burning the same number of calories despite having to carry around 2 stone less in weight. This ‘muscle burns calories’ effect is not as big and significant as is often reported but is nevertheless a factor.
Finally, the reason a lot of people weight train is to achieve a better shape. As well as helping you lose fat, it can help you bulge in more desirable places. It will give you better overall tone or, if you want to tone particular areas, you can target those muscles specifically.
Not only will weight training help with bulging in the right places, it will help you hold and carry yourself better. It can improve your posture and your gait, creating a better impression in social and business situations. And because weight training strengthens and tones the core, it can help you maintain a flatter stomach.
One final aspect of appearance not generally appreciated comes from weight training’s effect on hormones. Because regular weight training boosts testosterone and growth hormone, it can help you stay looking and feeling more youthful. Weight training will also protect the joints and strengthen the muscles to help you feel youthful as you age.
The main overall value of these effects on appearance is that it will improve confidence. Not just body confidence, but overall confidence. You may get compliments, you may feel better for it, you may lose weight or you may feel that being able to hold yourself better has knock on benefits in to your work or social situations. There are numerous reasons why weight training will lead to better self confidence.
So you can see that weight training is a must-do activity for both men and women of all ages. Now that said, as mentioned earlier, there are ways of weight training that are better than others for reaping all the benefits, and there is also some know-how associated with improving posture. Add to this any biomechanical constraints, injuries or medical conditions and you can see why a lot of people are not sure what to do in the weights room.
At Life Force we have a huge amount of experience in prescribing weight training and fat loss programmes that work for everyone and we know exactly how to incorporate it into an overall fat loss or body conditioning programme for optimal results.
If you’re interested in starting one of our programmes then give us a call on 01604 289 190 or fill in one of the contact forms on this website.