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Whatever physical gains you wish to obtain, incorporating weight training in your gameplan always yields results that show. The practice of lifting holds a myriad of possibilities for both men and women. Not sure where to begin?

We spoke to Pierre Louw from www.myhealthandfitness.co.za for advice on how to get started.

Get your aim right

As mentioned before, we all have different reasons for hitting the weights. We’ll list four different objectives below, and disclose why it’s possible to achieve them through weight training.

1. Losing weight

Most of us are still under the impression that intensive cardiovascular exercise (think running, swimming and cycling) makes you burn calories and lifting weights makes you build muscle. Seems accurate, doesn’t it? As it turns out, not quite.

With cardiovascular exercise, you’ll have to do a long, intense session in order to burn off fat. While this is certainly effective, those new to the gym might not necessarily be equipped with the fitness levels necessary to handle an hour-long jog or an uphill cycling session.Lifting weights, on the other hand, also burns lots of calories. Think about it: your body needs fuel to lift heavy objects repetitively. Some studies even say you can burn more calories with moderately intense weight training than you would doing cardio in the same amount of time, and many studies have proven that weight training drastically speeds up your metabolism even after the training session is over.

2. Gaining weight

At some point, most skinny people (guys and girls alike) feel the need to put on some mass. Not necessarily bulking up to double their size in weight; simply to look and feel more solid. By lifting moderately to intensely and gradually increasing the weight, your muscles will require more protein and calories in order to keep up with the increased strain they are placed under.

The rule of thumb here, though, is working with a careful strategy. Consult the expertise of both a professional trainer and certified dietician to help you work out a systematic training plan and diet that will aid you in achieving the results you desire.

3. Getting stronger

Whether you are a regular gym-goer, amateur athlete or just struggle to carry your grocery bags to your car, weight training can certainly aid you in attaining more strength.

If you are a beginner, start out light and gradually increase how heavy you lift. But don’t forget: if you want to get stronger, you must be able to lift heavier. Beginners and seasoned veterans, thus, should both have a carefully structured plan through which they plan to up their strength.

You should incorporate compound exercises (movements that target many major muscle groups of the body at once) such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, bench presses and rows in your training regimen and execute them with proper form. But remember to steer clear of stagnating; if your lifting routine stays the same, your muscles will too. Be sure to mix things up on a fairly regular basis – you should keep your body guessing.

4. Becoming fit(er)

Be it that you want to be a better player for your weekend sports team or struggle to get through that last kilometer on your weekly run, there’s certainly something to be said for hitting the weights.

On a biological level, lifting weights increases the amount of blood that is able to be pumped to the working muscles by the heart, which improves cardiovascular capability.

Since your muscles are used to heavy strain being put on them, your body’s ability to face obstacles such as uphill runs, tackles, etc. improves significantly.

A final word

While a foolproof lifting routine and nutritious diet are undoubtedly the core fundamentals when it comes to achieving weight-induced progress, there are a few more things you should consider.

While supplements, such as creatine, glutamine and whey protein will certainly help you in your quest, be weary of anything that promotes a quick fix. True results are achieved through hard work over time.

Also, never fall under the impression that cardiovascular exercise holds little benefits compared to weight training. Think of the two as sleeping and being awake; the two cannot exist without one another, and too little of one always negatively impacts the other.

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