The 5 Body Shape PRIORITIES #4
Why you should LIFT WEIGHTS prioritising the Compound Lifts.
Look, technically anyone can lose weight if they want to but have you ever seen those folks who go on Bear Grylls ‘The Island’ program? They lose a ton of weight but at the end of the show, look skinny, malnourished and far from healthy!
Obviously, their weight loss was through a severe calorie deficit via lack of food and an increase in activity from foraging and surviving.
But it proves that with a big enough calorie deficit we can all lose weight - but looking and feeling great alongside the weight loss, now that takes some ‘body shaping’ via exercise.
Not just any old exercise though.
If we take the most commonly compared extremes of a marathon runner vs a sprinter, we see huge differences in physique shape and muscular structure.
The marathon runner is built for endurance, they are strong for sure as their bodies are trained to go for long distances but their bodyweight is usually slight due as a result of training for hours on end among other reasons.
Whereas an all-out sprinter trains for an event that is maybe 10 to 30 seconds long depending on distance.
They train for explosive power which requires the combination of strength to move a large load quickly and speed to put the power generated down on the track in rapid succession.
Their body shape is that of a typical ‘athlete’. Hugely defined musculature and minimal body fat.
“But I don’t want to be a sprinter” I hear you say.
And I get that, I’m just explaining in a long winded way that weight loss and body shape are two different things.
It helps to show off a great body shape with less body fat for sure. If you look at some strongman competitors who’ve been at the top of their game then decided to lean up a bit through dieting, once they drop some body fat they are actually in great shape despite looking overweight when at their heaviest.
So back to the sprinter, we can take a few things away from how they train and apply that to shaping our own bodies.
They will typically focus on weight lifting that increases their strength and to get the most bang for your buck there needs to be some of the bigger lifts being trained regularly.
That means getting to grips with a Barbell usually, and using good form to squat, press, row and deadlift.
We can also use bodyweight as the resistance, especially if you’re just starting out on your lifting journey but there comes a point where you can do multiple reps of a bodyweight movement and there’s no really ‘strength’ stimulus, it just becomes a muscular endurance exercises.
So, let’s get back to basics. Here’s what you should focus on within your training sessions if you want to begin shaping the body regardless of if you’re male or female.
Quickly, I’d just like to bring up the most common question we get fro the girls when we suggest lifting weights “Will I get bulky if I lift weights”?
Ummm, no. Unless you’re an eastern block weightlifter from back in the day who takes a ton of testosterone supplements, women are unlikely to bulk up from weight training.
What will happen though, is you start to tighten up and tone those muscles that are working hard to lift the weights.
And those lifts should include as previously mentioned, push, pull, lift and hinge movements that stress the body through lower rep ranges than your typical circuits class using 2kg dumbbells.
Weight training done at the right intensity should be almost an interval session of work rest, work rest, work rest etc…
and IF the intensity is right (weight lifted is correct to just make it through the planned reps and sets, still with good form) then you’ll be safe in the knowledge you’re loading your body with shape-changing exercises.
Where do the isolation exercises come in? You know, the bicep curls, ab crunches, calf raises, tricep extensions etc…
Well, they can be done at the end of a session once you’ve gotten a ton of work through the larger muscle groups. Reason being, if you did bicep curls to failure first, then tried to do some bodyweight chin ups, it’s likely your arms would give in way before you got near any back muscles got a workout.
What we do in our Conditioning sessions is a mixture of moderate to heavy weights, usually in timed interval sets along with a conditioning element also.
However, in our Advanced sessions we structure heavier lifts that we can help to coach correctly first, before adding proper load to the exercise.
Doing these exercises regularly and making sure there is some progression in the programme is key to achieving the shapely body you want.
Whether you’re a guy looking for a V shaped upper body and strong legs to match or a girl after toning the legs, bum and midsection, there is a place for heavier weights in your weekly workout routine for sure.
Don’t be put off by the misconception of weights bulking you up if you’re a woman or that you only need to train the ‘mirror muscles’ if you’re a fella (you know, the ones you see when you check yourself out in the mirror, namely chest and arms!!).
If you’re currently doing basic circuit sessions with light weights and are not seeing the shape changes you think you should be, perhaps it’s time to step it up a gear.