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4 reasons you should lift weights to lose body fat and achieve optimal health (and why you won't look like a bodybuilder if you do!)

Lifting weights to lose body fat is fast gaining acceptance in mainstream media and fitness publications, which is great.

Coaches have known this for a long time but, with the mainstream publications finally catching up, that message will be broadcast to a wider audience which is only going to be a good thing for our health and wellbeing.

Here are 4 reasons why you should lift weights to lose body fat and achieve optimal health.

Weight Lifting to Lose Body Fat

1. You will burn more calories and lose more body fat

For years the message has (had?!) been to do cardio for fat loss. We’re not denying cardio can work for fat loss but the reality is we work with busy people who don't have time to do hours and hours of cardio to look great. The good news is lifting weights will help you shed excess body fat quicker and more efficiently than cardio.


Although cardio burns more calories whilst performing the exercise (45 minutes jogging burns around 670 calories compared to only around 250 for 45 minutes lifting weights) it is what happens after you finish exercising that is important.

After you finish jogging your energy expenditure quickly drops back to normal. 

But after you finish a weight training session your energy expenditure stays elevated. This is due to the fact that when you weight train, assuming you're using the right weight (our coaches will make sure you are...), you create metabolic stress through microscopic tears in your muscles which the body then heals. This healing process requires energy which results in an increased metabolism (and hence fat burning) for anything up to 36 hours after training.

2. You'll strengthen connective tissues and bone

It’s normal for women to gradually lose bone density from the age of about 35. But after menopause bone loss speeds up.

Women can lose up to 20% of their bone density in the five to seven years after menopause. This makes post-menopausal women more at risk of osteoporosis and fractures.

Lifting weights is particularly important for improving bone strength and helping to prevent osteoporosis. This is because they place stress on the muscles and bones, which helps to strengthen them.

3. You'll look toned rather than 'skinny fat'

How many people do you know who have lost weight and looked dreadful?

We've seen quite a few instances where before and after photos have been put next to each other and the common consensus was that the person in question looked better in their before photo. How soul-destroying!

The 'skinny fat' look is common amongst runners and is what happens when you lose weight without incorporating weight training as part of your exercise programme.

Achieving a toned look is all about building lean muscle. Obviously, you have to remove the layer of fat over the top but it is the muscle that provides you with the sleek, curvy, sexy look rather than that bony, like you need a good dinner, look.

4. You'll earn your carbs!

Carbohydrates aren't good or bad. They are a source of fuel, as is fat. The difference between carbs and fat as a fuel? Carbs are used for immediate energy whilst fat provides slower steadier energy reserves.

Simply, if you have just weight trained then you have (assuming you haven't just moved a 3kg dumbbell around in a token effort) used your stores of carbohydrates and so your body is actively wanting you to take in carbohydrates. When you do your muscles will act like a sponge and soak up that energy, refilling their gas tank.

If your muscles gas tanks are full and you don't use that energy (no dog walking won't use that energy, sorry...) then your body has no option but to store it in fat cells.

So if you like your carbs start weight training and your body will be able to use them instead of just storing them in your fat cells. Jogging won't have the same effect as weight training as it uses, for the most part, a different energy system.

But I don't want to look like a bodybuilder...

I hear this a lot, it's like people think if you lift a 5kg dumbbell 3 times they'll suddenly look like a bodybuilder. Here's the reality:

You won't.

For a few reasons.

The first and main reason is you don't have enough testosterone in your body. Even post-menopause or with PCOS you won't have enough testosterone to build muscle like a bodybuilder.

The second is you won't be eating like a bodybuilder or training like a bodybuilder. Bodybuilders, if they are training right, will lift weights in a very different way to you and will eat a lot more. You'll be lifting weights in a way to make you look lean and toned whilst eating specifically to get and stay slim.

Thirdly, I seriously doubt you will have the dedication that bodybuilders do. Are you going to train twice a day? Are you going to restrict your food choices focusing specifically on foods that will grow your muscles? Are you going to forgo going out with friends or if you do take a Tupperware box of food with you and stick to tap water? Are you going to count every calorie that passes your lips with religious fervour?

I doubt it, and nor should you. Your goals are different. You want to look and feel good in a dress that's a few sizes smaller than your current one, they want to cover themselves in fake tan and stand on stage in a pair of budgie smugglers.

Different goals, different diets, different approaches to life and different ways of training with weights.

So don't be afraid of weight training. There are huge benefits to basing your exercise programme around 2 or 3 good quality weight training sessions a week. In fact, if you're a woman aged 35 or over we'd say it would be madness to do otherwise.