Will muscles turn to fat when you stop weight training? Is weight training better than cardio for weight loss? A PT clears the air once and for all.
Weightlifting equipment such as dumbbells, barbells and kettle bells are a common sight at gyms, but some of us are still hesitant to pick them up, or take on heavier weights, due to some preconceived notions. Jaka Tuvshintugs, a personal trainer at TFX, sheds light on common weightlifting misconceptions.
“Using weights will make me big and bulky.”
This is a common misconception that most women have. With our female genetics and hormones, our bodies produce less testosterone, and therefore it is not as easy for women to grow big and bulky like men. It is important that this myth is debunked because there are lots of benefits for women to do weight training, which includes lifting dumbbells and barbells, and also body weight exercises such as burpees and plank-to-push-ups (where you use your body weight for resistance). Weight training helps you to improve body posture and alignment, boost your energy levels, immune system and metabolism. More importantly, it helps combat osteoporosis by strengthening your bones.
Physically, weight training helps you achieve a toned body and leaner waistline, which improves your appearance and builds confidence. Muscles use a lot more energy than fat, so having more muscles improves your metabolic rate, thus helping you burn more calories, even at rest.
Weight training also maintains and builds muscle mass which you lose as you age. It is important that you maintain strength and muscles to carry out daily tasks effectively (pushing, lifting, balancing). You also reduce the risk of injury while moving around day-to-day (e.g. when you are able to break a fall when you trip).
Learn more about the awesome benefits of strength training here.
“For lean muscles, it’s better to do light weights and higher reps, than heavier weights and fewer reps.”
The choice of weight and reps really depends on your fitness goals. In general, if you are new to exercise and looking to tone up, starting with light weights and higher reps helps your body build strength and endurance. You can increase the weight gradually as your body gets stronger.
Higher reps can increase fat loss as the fatigue caused to the body creates a muscular response. However, it is not necessarily the weight or number of reps that causes one to burn the most fat, but the intensity of the workout. Challenge yourself with a workout containing an optimal number of reps with less rest time to achieve more powerful metabolic and caloric burn.
“I should focus on cardio instead of weight training if I want to lose weight.”
Doing any kind of cardiovascular activities helps you burn calories. However, to lose weight effectively, it is important to incorporate both cardio and weight training into your regimen. Weight training builds muscle and boosts metabolism, which in turn helps you burn more calories, even at rest. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) can also provide similar benefits over a shorter period of time.
Your fitness programme should incorporate these four components:
- Metabolic Conditioning: Helps improve your energy and burns calories even after completion of activity
- Strength and conditioning: Improves your fitness and helps prevent injury
- Variability Conditioning: Improves your mental and physical stress, involves movement-based training which give less stress on joints and connective tissues, and helps prevent you from hitting a plateau
- Restoration conditioning: Improves recovery, flexibility, mobility, fascial and movement ability.
“My muscles will turn into fat if I stop weight training.”
Muscles and fat are different tissues and cells that do not convert into each other. When you stop weight training over a period of time, your body’s muscle mass reduces due to decreased metabolism. The atrophy of muscles creates the impression that your muscles have turned into fat.
“Weightlifting is bad for joints and may cause injury.”
If someone is experiencing joint pain and injury through weight training, she needs to look into several issues around her weightlifting sessions at the gym.
Firstly, ensure that technique and form for complex exercises are correct and that the weight is not too heavy to handle. Secondly, do warm-ups and stretches to mobilise joints. Always train safely. Weightlifting actually improves overall musculoskeletal fitness, from increasing bone density to stronger muscles and joints. If one has a medical history of previous injury and feels that she has not fully recovered, it is best to consult a doctor and professional coaches for advice before starting a weight training regimen.
Hopefully, you’ll feel more empowered at the weights section after this. Remember to ask a qualified trainer for help if you aren’t sure how to use weights. It’s the safest way to go when it comes to protecting yourself from workout injuries, which are one of the worst things that can happen.
Wondering how much and how often to lift weights? Find out here.