Here is a simple fact for you – If your training program doesn’t have, at its core, a well-rounded weight training routine, regardless of your sport, regardless of your fitness or physique goals and regardless of any physical limitations you may have (or in many cases think you have!) you will not reach your full potential.
I would like to tell you about two common statements I hear as a personal trainer:-
1. Female – “I don’t want to do weights because I bulk up really easily and I look like a man.”
To this I politely explain that I find this hard to believe. There are few women with drive and genetics to build a serious muscle. You need the mental toughness and the ability to push to the extremes it takes for a woman to build muscle, as well as above average levels of testosterone and a very clean diet.
I don’t wish to be rude, but women who think they are going to become a pro body builder by doing weights 2 or 3 times a week are more often than not overweight and the truth is building a little muscle burns a lot of fat. Building muscle will really aid weight loss as well as support the rest of your exercise schedule.
2. Male – “I used to do weights and was really strong (he rattles of some facts and figures regarding post training glories), but now I have a bad back so I don’t want to do weights because they are bad for my back. Also my doctor says I should only do cardio and abs exercises.”
This man has got some bad advice. Not only is not exercising the back (usually the lower back) incredibly bad, long term, doing abdominal exercises will compound the problem and in the not too distant future he won’t be able to do anything let alone exercise! A balance needs to be struck.
As a personal trainer men and women often approach me and say I would like to train two or three times a week, but I have a bad back and I have been advised to leave it well alone. I want to do cardio, abs and tone up my arms. I have to explain that 99 out of 100 bad backs are fixable with exercise. Pain is often a result of weakness in the lower back and an imbalance between the lower back and the abdominals. The best way to correct this is by using dumbbells and barbells.
You can build strength using bodyweight, bands, kettlebells, medicine balls etc etc. All of these are effective methods and should be used, BUT the vast majority of good physiques are created by traditional weight training. You may love kettlebells and so you should, but you can’t just train using kettlebells day-in-day-out. You should cross train using weights following a sensible split routine throughout the week.
Obviously if you have a bad back and you are reading this don’t rush into the gym and hit the weights in an attempt to fix yourself. You need to consult a professional, like myself, who will put together a training plan that starts with light weights and gentle floor exercises in order to build a solid base. Then over the weeks and months you can increase the intensity until you are exercising normally and have confidence in your ability to perform all of the important compound exercises correctly.
The bottom line is any training goal, including weight loss, will be met better by incorporating a weight routine into your program. Limitations arising from injury, such as a bad back are not an excuse to shy away from the weights. Weights are just what you need to improve the situation.