"If you don't have good muscle, you don't have good health." It's hard to argue with advice from David Marshall aka The Bodydoctor, who is the trainer to the stars and is responsible for getting Kate Moss, Sophie Dahl, Lily Allen and Rachel Weisz in shape.
Every so often the fitness world gets a new darling to rave on about - last year it was the importance of resistance training, and while that is still the favourite among personal trainers, this year the spotlight is on weights.
Specifically the importance of doing them, and what part they have to play in losing weight, getting toned or simply getting strong.
Celebrity trainer and former UK's Strongest ManRob Blakeman says: "Only weight training will improve your shape and give you that Hollywood style tight biceps and buns. All the aerobics and calisthenics in the world may improve your cardiovascular system and increase flexibility, they may even help burn a few pounds off but if you start out as a pear shape you’ll end up a slightly smaller pear shape. New, improved curves will only come with progressive and intense weight training."
Ladies, this one is for you too - as we've heard the lament go round the office about the fear of getting bulky. Nia Shanks on her website sums this up perfectly: "the true culprit that gives a woman a bulky appearance is excess body fat. Period."
How often should I work out?
If you work out on Monday at 7 p.m., your body is in muscle-growth mode until Wednesday at 7. p.m. After 48 hours, though, the biological stimulus for your body to build new muscle returns to normal. That means it's time for another workout.
Similarly, Women's Health reported: "A recent study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham compared dieters who lifted three times a week with those who did aerobic exercise for the same amount of time. Both groups ate the same number of calories, and both lost the same amount—26 pounds—but the lifters lost pure chubb, while about 8 percent of the aerobicisers' drop came from valuable muscle. Researchers have also found that lifting weights is better than cardio at whittling intra-abdominal fat—the Buddha-belly kind that's associated with diseases from diabetes to cancer."
We asked the experts about the best reasons to do weights. Here's what they had to say:
The more lean muscle you have, the more fat you burn - especially if you are exercising at the right intensity.
David Marshall says: If you want to burn fat and you want to get to your destination, you need to use your muscles to push, pull and stretch. When people just do cardio – invariably they go out running - they just send shockwaves through the body. Your heart doesn’t differentiate whether it’s beating however many times a minute – it just understands there is a demand for oxygen and blood.
More energy, better posture
"These are the changes you and everyone else will notice," says Rob. "Loads more energy, improved posture, more strength, (as opposed to more muscle wastage) better pain-free joint movement, fewer colds and flu, better recovery, less stress (because you now have a real workout to channel it through!) less tiredness and greater concentration. The longer you continue your regime change, the more profound and noticeable the improvements."
Muscle training prevents osteoporosis
Weight training helps protect your bones and prevent against fractures. David says: "For the purposes of general health, resistance work does the trick every time. You have to do a full body workout and expand it without hitting your body with stress factors."
It protects against injuries
Caroline Ciavaldini, world class athlete and North Face athlete says: "While climbing you always work on your biceps, much less the antagonist muscle, which could lead to a disbalance, and injuries. Doing weights is a protection against injuries."
It helps with anti-ageing
"Building new lean muscle tissue is the ultimate in anti-ageing," says Rob. "It will also reduce drastically the chances of serious illness such as Heart Attacks and Strokes if performed regularly and consistently."
It's great for relaxing
"As much as I love climbing because of its complexity, it is sometimes enjoyable to go to the gym to just make very simple exercises, like weight lifting," says Caroline. "It's a little holiday for your brain!"