Strength and conditioning - the benefits of weight training

Weight training, or resistance training as it is commonly referred to, is my absolute go-to for helping clients achieve great tone and condition.  In fact, it’s actually my go-to exercise for nearly every type of goal my clients have.  Whether you want to age gracefully, create beautifully toned muscles, lose weight, reduce the impact of stress on the body, improve insulin sensitivity, manage and improve depression, enhance sleep, increase fitness – yes, you read that right! I even use weight training as a primary tool to increase a person’s fitness. Strength and conditioning is my secret weapon.

Below is a huge list of reasons for you to consider weight training if you have not already.

  1. Tones your muscles, which looks great and raises your basal metabolism, causing you to burn more calories 24 hours a day. You will even burn more calories while you are sitting down.
  2. Can reverse the natural decline in your metabolism (ability to burn calories) which begins around age 30 and can be a major cause of weight gain for people as they age.
  3. Has a positive effect on almost all of your 650-plus muscles and this is especially important when you remember the saying “use it or lose it”.
  4. Strengthens your bones, reducing your risk of developing osteoporosis.
  5. Improves your muscular endurance allowing you to keep doing the activities you love for longer.
  6. Makes you strong, and strength gives you confidence, making daily activities easier.
  7. Decreases your resting blood pressure as well as your risk of developing adult-onset diabetes.
  8. Decreases your gastrointestinal transit time – a factor in preventing bowel cancer.
  9. Can improve your posture, balance and coordination, and make you less prone to lower-back injuries.
  10. Improves the functioning of your immune system.
  11. Lowers your resting heart rate, a sign of a more efficient heart.
  12. Elevates your mood and helps you keep that spring in your step.

Now I don’t know about you, but after reading that list, I am always keen to get out and do a little weight training myself and I like to keep things simple and short – life with two toddlers is super busy so short is the operative word here for me.

Most people will think 20 minutes is not long enough to get in a workout that offers great benefits. They think a great workout requires up to an hour, and even more, so they don't bother to train when time is short.  This is a big mistake, whatever your goals; weight loss, increase fitness, improve muscle tone… Just 20 minutes can definitely do some serious work towards your goal.  In fact, 20 minutes not only makes sense for a busy schedule, but current research shows it's plenty of time to stay, or get, in shape - if you actually work out, that is.

I have also created a couple of simple, quick and super effective programmes you can try out, which use either dumbbells or your own body weight to provide resistance.



Goal: Ease into weight training with basic exercises, focusing on developing correct form.

Overall strategy: Work the core and major muscle groups - legs, back, chest and shoulders - but keep it simple. Focus on form, movement and breathing.

  • Perform 1 set of 12 of each exercise with 30-45 seconds rest between each exercise
  • These are common exercises and easy to find videos and images on the internet
  • Keep the weight light to start and increase as you go
  • Rule of thumb: if you cannot do more than 8 reps, the weight is too heavy for you, if you can do more than 12 then the weight is too light for you


  • Chest Press
  • Basic Squat
  • Press Ups
  • Leg Press
  • Standing Shoulder Press
  • Running on the spot for 60 seconds
  • Lying Leg Raises



Overall strategy: Perform complex exercises that work large muscle groups; do high reps and take very little rest between exercises. This approach produces immediate short-term calorie burn and builds maximum muscle mass, which in turn generates long-term calorie burn.

  • Perform 2 sets of 15 of each exercise with only 10 seconds rest between exercises
  • These are common exercises and easy to find videos and images on the internet if you’re unsure
  • Keep the weight light to start off and increase as you go
  • Rule of thumb: if you cannot do more than 8 reps, the weight is too heavy for you, if you can do more than 15 then the weight is too light for you


  • Lunge                                      
  • Dumbbell Bicep Curl
  • Dumbbell Squats                                   
  • Dumbbell Shoulder Press
  • Press Up
  • Side Lunge
  • Bench Press       
  • Bicycle Crunch   
  • Superman          


Remember to warm-up and cool down for a few minutes on either side of the program when exercising.

Consult your doctor if you are unsure about beginning an exercise program

Please stop and consult your doctor if you feel unwell at any time during your exercise program.


Lee-Anne Wann is a fitness specialist, nutritionist, presenter and author. She currently runs a health and fitness consultancy business providing companies and organisations with health, nutrition and wellness solutions and content, she also runs a private nutrition practice and was a television host for TVNZ’s ‘Kiwi Living’.