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Build not Burn

Every top real estate coach from John McGrath to Josh Phegan, Claudio Encina and others insist you look after your body so that you can perform at your peak. Weight training is recognised by many as the most effective form of exercise in terms of results. Emily Schofield explains how you can change your body composition for the better.

RECENTLY SO much great literature has come to light showing the numerous benefits of weight training, ranging from improved sleep, reduction in chronic pain and reduction in blood pressure to improved heart function, disease prevention (particularly cancer and diabetes) and improved bone density, to name a few.

And if you want to improve your body composition and therefore overall fitness, weight training coupled with interval training – short sprints and short rest intervals done in a repeated fashion – has shown to be significantly more effective than traditional aerobic work.

It is a common misconception that everyone must do significant amounts of aerobic work to attain the best results. I always advocate exercising to ‘build’ not to ‘burn’. Individuals who focus on building muscle always look better than those who focus on burning calories. This is not only because a toned athletic build is more aesthetically pleasing, but because having more muscle equals more calories burnt at rest. People with more muscle require much less exercise to maintain their physique.

In my experience, men and women should have very similar approaches to training when fat loss or improved body composition is the common goal. Women need not be concerned about ‘bulking up’ – having one-sixteenth of the amount of testosterone as men, we do not have the ability to build muscle to the same degree under natural conditions. The women I work with who lift heavy weights are often the clients in the best shape and would not be described by anyone as bulky or muscular. I find that even individuals who have never taken a liking to exercise previously can often really enjoy weight training because of the variety and challenges it involves.

The hormone insulin is another factor to consider in the importance of weight training. Insulin health refers to how sensitive your cell receptors are in taking up nutrients and energy. Insulin plays an important role, as it is the key that unlocks the gate to the cells to allow nutrients in. When we eat carbohydrates and our blood sugar rises, the pancreas secretes insulin which allows the cells to take up the fuel and use it as energy.

The western diet today tends to involve overconsumption of carbohydrates, and not necessarily the right carbohydrates, which leads to your cells becoming resistant to insulin. Instead of the carbohydrates being used as energy, they have a greater tendency to be stored as body fat. This leads to a myriad of problems, including slow metabolism, poor energy and focus, inflammation, acceleration of aging and an increased risk of developing diabetes.

If you are overweight and have a poor diet, it is likely you have some degree of insulin resistance. Strength training is a well-known strategy for diabetes prevention and improving this resistance. Recent studies have shown improved blood sugar management with weight training contributes to a healthier insulin response.

The prevention of falls, broken bones and general injury is imperative as you get older. Weight training is the perfect form of exercise to keep your muscles and bones in good shape as you age. If you are sedentary, loss of muscle and bone density will occur at a much faster rate. Studies show consistent weight training has translated to a 50 per cent lower fracture risk in men, and 20 per cent lower in women.

It is not important at what level of fitness, strength or age you start; you just need to start. I have worked with men and women in their 60s and 70s who would put 30 year olds to shame, because they made a start and worked hard to improve their strength and health. I have seen how it pays in endless dividends, through an improved quality of life and being able to maintain a strong level of independence as you age.

Everyone can benefit immensely from weight training in a variety of ways; it is definitely worth investing in for your long-term health and quality of life.

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About The Author
Emily Schofield
Emily Schofield is an Exercise Scientist, having completed a Bachelor’s degree in Sport and Exercise Science. She is a Personal Trainer at Vision Personal Training, North Sydney. For more information visit visionpt.com.au/studios/north-sydney.