I can't tell you how many times in my career I had to convince a middle-aged man or woman that the best way to lose weight was to start lifting weights on a regular basis. And for a good reason, weightlifting has always been perceived as a way to big build muscles, to get stronger, or to become more athletic. It's always been perceived as something somewhat elite, something done by young guys and bodybuilders. It is not. It’s an awesome tool to become healthier, to age well, to stay strong and mobile, and to lose weight.
First of all, anybody can lift weights at any age and greatly benefit from it. I've had clients in their late 70s who lifted weights many times a week to keep enjoying their quality of life and their hobbies. I've had clients who lost over 100 pounds with the help of regular weightlifting combined with better eating practices and doing cardiovascular work. Lifting weight has helped countless women who had desperately tried to lose weight for 10-15 years in getting results within six months. Weightlifting can benefit anyone at any age, especially for weight loss. Here’s why.
The most direct and obvious benefit of lifting weights is to increase your muscle mass. This is a key component of weight loss for both men and women. You see, the amount of muscle that you carry on your body is like the size of the engine in your car. The bigger the engine in your car, the more fuel it consumes every time you hit the gas. Likewise, the more muscle you have on your body, the more calories you burn at rest and every time you exercise. That is the first benefit of weightlifting for weight loss purposes. Over time, you increase your metabolic rate or, simply put, the amount of calories that you burn each and every day.
When you've been sedentary for quite a while, odds are that you've lost a lot of muscle mass over the years. That's just the way it is with muscles, you don't use them, you lose them. After 30, you can lose over 2% of your muscle mass each year if you don't train. At the age of 50, that would mean a loss of over half your muscle mass. Therefore your metabolic rate would be so low that even if you’d run or go on a stationary bicycle to lose weight, the amount of calories that you would burn would be so low (remember the car analogy with the size of the engine?) that your efforts would be almost futile. You're in that situation? Start lifting weights 2-3 times a week and within a year your metabolism will be much more efficient, and you'll burn many more calories every time you do that same cardiovascular training session.
A lesser-known but nonetheless awesome benefit of lifting weights is also that after a training session, your metabolism stays elevated for up to 24 hours. When you train, you damage your muscles, and they have to repair after. That is how you get stronger. Your muscles repairing and rebuilding will increase your metabolism. That's good news for weight loss, as your metabolism stays elevated the next day, while you're carrying on with your daily activities. Say you lift weights three times a week, every other day for example, your metabolism would be elevated six days out of seven. The math is simple. The more calories you burn each and every day, the better and the faster the weight loss. Weightlifting will do just that with that post-training effect.
Lifting weights improves your insulin sensitivity. When you age and are sedentary, the cells in your body become less and less sensitive to your own insulin. Insulin is the molecule that binds to glucose when you eat carbohydrates. Its job is to remove glucose from your bloodstream by bringing it to tissues that need it. When you don’t exercise much, your cells become less and less sensitive to your insulin. When your cells lose their sensitivity to insulin, you progressively come closer to developing Type-2 diabetes. Thus, Type-2 diabetes is often qualified by doctors as a lifestyle disease. Now, if you lift weights, your muscles are in great need of glucose, it’s their main source of fuel. There will be a greater removal of glucose from the bloodstream AND your cells will regain progressively their sensitivity to insulin. Therefore, insulin can do its job of emptying the glucose from the bloodstream and can improve greatly your glycemia. Please understand that there's the Type-2 diabetes factor to consider here but also that if your insulin doesn't function well, it will make it much harder for you to lose weight. Lifting weights regularly will therefore greatly help in preventing the onset of Type-2 diabetes and will help you lose weight because your glucose removal will be much more efficient.
A couple of years ago, I worked with a client who wanted to lose 50 pounds. He had just received his blood work results and they were not good. He desperately wanted to start running to lose weight, but his knees were in such bad shape that he had a hard time climbing up a flight of stairs. I told him that his weight had taken a toll on his knees and that he would probably be able to start running again when he was at least 25 pounds lighter. But for the moment he would completely destroy his knees at his current weight. I wanted his metabolism to get better as I mentioned at the beginning of the blog but I also wanted him to train intensely because that’s what he was seeking out with running. I convinced him to lift weights three times a week and he was quite surprised by the intensity it required when it was done correctly. He worked hard and finished many sessions exhausted, and he did burn a lot of calories. People who have never lifted weights don't think of it as something that is very intense as an activity that can burn many calories. But it is exactly what happens. Lifting weights is anaerobic (just like sprinting or playing hockey), and it is a very intense and demanding form of effort. Moreover, if your actual condition doesn’t allow you to do cardio at even moderate intensity, weightlifting is probably the only intense type of activity that you can do! A well-designed program is quite demanding to do and for untrained individuals, it can burn more calories in an hour than any cardio activity will do in the beginning stages of exercising.
Now that you know all the benefits there are to gain from lifting weights from a weight loss perspective (there are many more by the way: better posture, better quality of life, decrease rates of injuries), I know that many of you reading this still think that lifting weight is something they couldn’t do. I mean, how do you even get started? There is so much to know, so many exercises to learn. What you need to do is to work with the right material, to get proper coaching and to educate yourself. You need to give yourself time to learn the right methods and a whole new set of skills. Think about it, if you wanted to start golfing, you wouldn’t freak out, you would hire a coach. Our Weightlifting 101 program was created for that very purpose. To coach and educate any middle-aged, beginner, man or woman on how to start lifting weights in the safest and most efficient way possible. Any beginner, with the help of our programs, can build muscle, learn how to perform the exercises correctly without getting injured, and progress with a smart well designed plan for untrained individuals. And you can do it at your own pace. Investing in a program like this could help you get the results you've been longing for in a relatively short amount of time. All you need to do is take the leap, trust us, and change your life for good.