Mark Bohannon, Certified Personal Trainer, and Director of Experience at Ultimate Performance, said:


When most people want to lose weight, they’re confronted by the age-old dilemma of whether to opt for a cardio-based workout programme, or to lift weights.

If I had a pound for every client I’ve trained who has come to me and said: ‘I’ve been hitting the treadmill seven days a week, and going to endless spinning classes, but I can’t shift the weight’, then I would be a very rich man indeed.

Unfortunately, the belief that cardio is the be-all and end-all when it comes to burning fat is all-too common and it’s a mistake. But, if you’ve tried endless cardio before and not gotten the results, then I’m preaching to the choir because you’ll know that cardio is not the best exercise modality when it comes to body composition.

My advice to anyone who has just joined a gym – regardless of age or gender – is to look past the cardio machines and head for the weight room, because lifting weights can dramatically help you achieve your fat loss goals and sculpt the body you’ve always wanted. Here’s why:

It can help you live longer.

As we get older, our metabolism naturally slows down, leading to weight gain. The best way to combat a sluggish metabolism and speed it up again is to increase your muscle mass. And the way to increase your muscle mass is to lift weights. In fact, the highest risk factor when it comes to how long people live is the amount of lean mass that they have. So, for longevity, you want to increase your muscle tissue, which you do by lifting weights.

Recent studies have shown that the best way to decrease your risk of all-cause mortality – dying from some sort of medical issue – isn’t giving up smoking, or giving up drinking, or doing cardio to improve your VO2 (which is the maximum rate of oxygen your body is able to use during exercise), it’s about the amount of lean body mass you are carrying. And that all comes back to my original point about strength training.

It burns more calories than cardio.

People like to physically ‘see’ the calories they are burning on the treadmill or static bike.  But, in reality, that’s just looking at one individual snapshot of that day. The second that run, or cycle, stops, the calorie burning also stops.

However, your resting metabolic rate (RMR) – which is the number of calories you burn whilst at rest – has been shown to remain higher, for longer, after an intense weight session when compared to jogging on the treadmill. So, by lifting weights, you will continue to burn more calories long after you’ve left the gym. Win-win.

If you were to get 100 people in a room right now and you took their blood work, the number one indicator of them having good blood work is going to be how much visceral and subcutaneous factor they carry. And that is going to come down to lean body mass, which is going to be dictated by the amount of strength training they do.

It can improve your bone density.

Strength training is really important as you get older. As you get older, we face conditions like osteoporosis and sarcopenia and that kind of thing.

When you weight train, it helps to increase bone density. You don’t get that from running. You don’t get that from Pilates and yoga in the same way you would do from a structured strength training program.

It is better for body composition.

I’m generalising slightly, but when most people join a gym, it’s because they want to feel ‘firmer’ or ‘more toned’. But to achieve this, the goal needs to be one of fat loss, not weight loss. The problem with endless cardio is that you’re more likely to start burning through muscle rather than fat, resulting in the dreaded ‘skinny fat’ look. However, strength training encourages the body to retain muscle and tap into fat stores. So, if a leaner, more-shapely look is your goal, weights are your friend.

So, next time you hit the gym, ask yourself: “What am I looking to achieve? What’s my goal?” If your goal is to lose bodyfat and a more athletic physique, then hopefully I’ve given you food for thought to head straight for the weights room!


Mark is one of Ultimate Performance’s most experienced, and most respected, leaders. He is currently U.P.’s Director of Experience, overseeing all aspects of U.P.’s global operations.

Mark came to Ultimate Performance in 2015, after running a successful solo personal training business for eight years, both online and in person, and working in a mixture of both commercial and independent gyms.

Mark’s professional qualification was an Advanced Diploma in Personal Training, which he obtained in 2007 from YMCA Fit. YMCA Fit is the UK’s first, and foremost provider of fitness education.

Wanting to progress his career, Mark rose rapidly through the ranks as both a trainer and a Gym Manager. He has worked with clients from across the spectrum, including a number of high-profile celebrities, and is regularly quoted in fitness publications and websites across the world.

His passion and knowledge, combined with his commercial acumen, has seen Mark’s career continue to develop as a business leader off the gym floor. Before taking up his current role, Mark has been the Regional Manager for Ultimate Performance’s entire estate of gyms based in the North of the UK and our EU gyms, leading on everything from sales and operations, to ensuring the company’s trainers uphold the world-class service U.P. offers.

He has also worked as U.P.’s Commercial Director for the business’s UK and EU operations, and as a Global Sales Director. Until he took up his current role, Mark was Senior Vice President of North American Operations, based in Washington DC, where Mark spearheaded the effective management and growth of Ultimate Performance’s ongoing expansion in the US.

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