If you’re looking to lose weight, weight training is your new bestie.
Weight training will help you to increase the lean muscle mass on your body and therefore, your metabolic rate. Your caloric requirement will then be increased to support that muscle integrity. The accumulation of adaptive responses that occur as a result of weight training promote a higher metabolic rate as well as a more aesthetically toned physique.
It’s important to note that increasing lean mass does not happen as rapidly as some people fear or some would like. It occurs with consistent and proper training accompanied with a supportive diet to properly fuel the tissue growth and fat burning. Muscle bulk is not something to be feared as it requires just as must strategy as those looking to get smaller but tone up.
What is weight training?
It is a method for strengthening which uses the tools of absolute weight to add the variable of load onto the body. As fitness professionals, we often use the terms weight training, strength training, and resistance training interchangeably. Some tools we may incorporate may be machines, dumbbells, kettlebells, free weights, body weight, bands. We load the body with additional weight or resistance while it performs movement patterns as to elicit physiological adaptations resulting in denser and stronger tissue.
First, your body must perform a movement pattern properly. Next, make sure it can perform it properly with repetition. Finally, we can add the variable of load as it performs the movement pattern. There are other variables we must take into account when determining how to progress in a program such as order of movements, time under tension, recovery periods. You can see how we creatively toggle some variables given different circumstances in this blog post.
Do you need to use actual weights to weight train?
Eventually, yes. Bands and body weight are great tools as well, but there is no substitution for an absolute load that comes from the equipment we utilize in programming. This allows us to control a very important variable in a program. But it is important to remember that a tool is only as good as a person’s ability to properly utilize it. You can use a hammer to build a house or as a weapon to hurt!
How often do I need to weight train?
We often find the average individual needs to weight train at least twice per week. Sometimes, three times per week is more ideal but we must also be realistic in our approach. Twice per week weight training sessions allow us to split the body up in focuses for an appropriate training protocol. This means it allows us enough time to work the major muscles and joints with a minimum amount of volume and intensity for optimal results in a logically feasible plan.
How do I approach a weight training ‘split’?
There is more than one way to skin a cat and while it is important to see what works best for a unique body, we can look to a few simple starting points. A ‘split’ basically refers to how you divvy up the muscle groups in a particular work session. Two day splits could be constructed as an upper body day and a lower body day. Sometimes we program as a full anterior (front) body one day and full posterior (back) body the second day. Three day splits could be upper, lower, full body.
Some folks prefer and need more weight training sessions and their focus shifts to include back/bi, chest/tri, shoulders/arms, legs. There are so many different ways to structure the weight training splits but it all begins with how many training sessions per week and the volume and recovery needed. It’s also important to note that more is not always better, better is better!
There is no such thing as spot reduction in terms of exercises and fat loss in specific areas.
Your body dictates where and how it stores its fat and your body will dictate where and how it loses its fat. Working on particular muscles will help to improve their integrity (density and strength) but will not reduce the fatty overlay. That comes with the overall body’s lean muscle integrity and the fuel you provide with your diet.
Which weight training exercises are best for weight loss?
Focus on compound movements first. These are exercises that require more than one muscle group and more than one joint to perform. Why? More bang for your buck! Compound movements work larger muscle groups and more groups in one exercise. The largest muscles require the greatest energy to support and it’s all about being efficient with your time and energy systems.
You’ll waste time and energy if you focus on the trouble areas like inner thighs with abductions, tricep extensions for the bat wings (underarms), the love-handle crunches primarily. These are what we call isolation exercises and are best placed toward the end of a lifting day, if time and energy permit.
Compound Exercise Examples:
Pullup or pulldown
You should also incorporate some auxiliary movements – those that support the larger movements. These are often single sided compound movements because the stronger each unit the stronger the whole.
Lunges or step-ups
Single leg RDL or hip hinge
Single arm pulling movements
Moral of this story is that weight training is a highly prioritized component of a fitness regimen.
Weight training requires the most physiologically, provides a great amount physiologically, and is the most complex of the different fitness components.
Yes, cardio work is still wildly important but we can more easily outline those ideal parameters and most people understand the general concept of cardio work more easily. It is for this reason why Performance Fitness Training trainers program and teach our clients the specific cardio work, mobility, flexibility work that needs to be done and facilitate the weight training with our clients.