Cardio has always been seen to be the best way to lose fat, but strength training is far more effective.
The weights area of the gym probably seems like a daunting place, full of testosterone and grunts as people pick up and throw down the weights. (A pet hate is people who throw down weights each time they do a set. You can pick it up, so put it back down!) So it doesn’t seem like the most inviting place and the treadmills are much easier, right? It may seem easier, but strength training has many benefits, for both the mind and the body.
Everyone knows that weight training helps to improve strength and build muscle. This isn’t about your looks. It can help you as you get older, improving your bone density and reducing your risk to injury during old age. Bone density decreases as we age, creating brittle bones and a chance of osteoporosis. Strength training is a good way to combat this.
Strength training causes your body to continuously burn calories for hours after you’ve finished your workout. Cardio is seen as a way to burn more calories and lose fat because you can count how many calories you’re burning at the point of exercise. Although you can’t count the calories you burn during a weight lifting session, you will burn a similar amount, if not more, due to the ‘after-burn’ effect. As I explained above, strength training builds muscle. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism so you will be able to shed far more pounds by building up these muscles.
Weightlifting works on your central nervous system, as well as your muscles. This makes faster connections between your mind and your muscles, allowing for faster reactions and progress in your lifts. Lifting weights can also improve your confidence by showing you just how capable your body is. With cardio your goals are more than likely going to be time or distance, but with weightlifting there is a much wider variety of goals to set yourself. It could be an extra rep on a deadlift, or a heavier weight on your squat, for example. And these goals can be set and achieved within the same week. Weightlifting is constantly challenging and never boring because of this wide variety of goals. Personally, I find it much more interesting than cardio because even an extra rep on my pull up, although small, means that I am continuously improving.
The best way to begin your training is to head into your local gym and speak to one of the instructors. Your goal could be to lose weight, to gain muscle or to improve your performance, your trainer will be able to set you up with a plan to focus on those goals.
So head into that gym and show yourself what you’re capable of!