The two main debates that crop up when discussing weight lifting is; weight of muscle vs. fat and ‘I don’t want to get bulky’. So today, in this month’s fitness feature, we want to get to the bottom of it and straighten this up once and for all.

Weight of muscle vs. fat:

Research on dieters who don’t lift shows that, on average, 75 percent of their weight loss is from fat, while 25 percent is from muscle. Lb for lb, fat and muscle weight the same. But muscle is leaner than fat. So if you were to lose 5lbs of fat but gain 5lbs of muscle you would still weigh the same but your body shape and size would be smaller.

Research shows that between the ages of 30 and 50, you’ll likely lose 10 percent of your body’s total muscle. Worse yet, it’s likely to be replaced by fat over time. This increases your waist size because one pound of fat takes up 18 percent more space than one pound of muscle.

‘I don’t want to get bulky’

Everyone has different definitions of what it means to be ‘bulky’, it is a completely subjective term. Weight training does define your body but it does so through fat reduction and tightening and toning your muscles. If you’re concerned with getting bulky from lifting weights what you’re concerned with is increased muscled mass. But the muscular appearance often associated with ‘bulky’ doesn’t happen overnight and requires additional training and a particular diet.

As highlighted above, fat and muscle weigh the same, although the scales will tell you the exact same thing, if you’ve reduced your body fat but increased muscle mass the appearance in your body will be different but it won’t necessarily be ‘bulky’.

If you have particular goals and objectives when it comes to body shape, it is worth booking an introductory session with a trainer and possibly nutritionist. These experts will best equipped to help you achieve your aims in a healthy way around your lifestyle. Once you’ve met your goal they’ll also be able to advise a maintenance programme to help you sustain this.

So why should you lift?

Lifting weights not only helps to define your body, particularly when you reduce body fat. But it helps you to achieve fat reduction as well.

Lifting increases the number of calories you burn while your butt is parked on the couch. That’s because after each strength workout, your muscles need energy to repair their fibres. In fact, researchers found that when people did a total-body workout with just three big-muscle moves, their metabolisms were raised for 39 hours afterward. They also burned a greater percentage of calories from fat compared with those who didn’t lift.

In addition, weight training is an excellent form of cardiovascular activity.

A study found that circuit training with weights raises your heart rate 15 beats per minute higher than if you ran at 60 to 70 percent of your max heart rate. This approach strengthens muscles and provides cardiovascular benefits similar to those of aerobic exercise—so you save time without sacrificing results. Doing a circuit of eight moves (which takes about eight minutes) can expend 159 to 231 calories. That’s about what you’d burn if you ran at a 10-mile-per-hour pace for the same duration.

It’s wins all round.

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