Weightlifting is one of the most powerful types of exercise out there for anyone looking to improve their overall fitness. Weight training is the premier method for building strength and muscle mass. That’s not where the benefits end, however.
Here’s a look at some of the pros and cons of weight training:
Pro: weight training is perfect for fat loss
Studies have shown time and again1 that if you practice weight lifting while dieting, you’ll lose significantly less muscle than those who diet and exercise without any weight training. As a bonus, those who weight train increase strength and sometimes even muscle mass simultaneously.
That’s not all, either. A 2015 study2 from the Harvard School of Public Health actually found that men who weight trained for just 20 minutes a day gained less age-related abdominal fat than men who only did aerobic exercise.
Pro: weight training strengthens the entire body
As you might expect, putting your body under a load of weight not only develops muscle mass but also has a powerful effect in strengthening the skeleton and connective tissue of the body.
A 2011 study found3 that weight training in over 60s not only increased muscle mass in the subjects but also improved the recruitment of motor units in the body as well as increasing bone density.
As a result, subjects enjoyed greater mobility and lower injury risk in old age.
Con: injury is just around the corner
One of the downsides to weight lifting is that if you over-reach yourself or regularly use improper form, injury is highly likely. A 2010 study4 reported more than 970,000 weight training related injuries which required hospital treatment in the US from 1990 to 2007, with a 50% increase in incidents during that time. Injuries in the weight room can range from relatively mild to lethal.
Con: weight lifting may cause heart trauma
A 2012 study5 found that men who performed intense weight training, while being mainly sedentary in their day-to-day lives, were at a significantly higher risk of suffering from ischemic heart disease (IHD).
It’s worth a mention though that men who were active in their daily lives while also performing intense weight training didn’t seem to be at an increased risk.
Heart trauma in professional weight lifters is hardly unheard of. Famed World’s Strongest Man contender Jon Pall Sigmarrsson died of a heart attack in the gym at age 32.
Should you weight lift then?
Weight training is the number one means of developing strength and muscle mass, and it also doubles up as a fantastic fat-loss aid. It additionally strengthens the skeleton and enhances motor unit recruitment, allowing people to stay mobile and fit well into old age.
To avoid injury, be sure always to lift within your limits and observe proper form. Have a spotter to supervise you when there is any danger of dropping a weight. Counteract potential heart issues by staying active when out of the gym, and consult your doctor if you think you may be at risk of an episode.
Shop our Sports Nutrition range.