Recently, many individuals, particularly women, are hitting the dumbbells to get into shape. However, for every woman who hits the weights, there is an equal number who avoid them due to stereotypes and inadequate information that leads them to believe that weightlifting will result in them becoming bulky or too masculine, or won’t help them to lose weight. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Strength training can help anyone lose weight and is a critical part of how you can shape your body into the lean machine you’ve always dreamed of! So pick up the weights and discover how strength training can not only help you lose weight but become a healthier you!
The Science Behind Strength Training
For starters, strength training can most certainly help any man or woman lose weight in their pursuit of becoming a fitness guru. For instance, the fact is the more muscle you have, the more fat you burn, as research indicates the body expends energy, known as calories, just to maintain muscle, and the more muscle density you have, the more energy the body needs to support it. Just having muscle burns calories, and even if you believe you will not be using a significant amount of energy for a significant caloric loss by just building muscle alone, it is enough for you and others to start noticing the difference. A recent study concluded individuals who participated in strength training from eight to fifty-two weeks showed an increase of 2.2 to 4.5 pounds of muscle mass, and this increase in muscle mass increases the resting metabolic rate by fifty kilocalories per day.
The Science Behind Strength Training Continued
Well, this small change does help to reduce the energy gap between energy intake and expenditure, which means the more muscle mass built, the higher demand for energy, since the muscle gained will need to maintain itself during both rest and physical exercise. To put it simply, building muscle can help you raise your resting metabolism, which in the long-run will help you lose weight and keep it off. For fitness novices who are new to strength training, or even enthusiasts who want to learn more, one fact remains that shouldn’t frighten you: strength training may actually make you gain weight. This is because fat cells are large, light, and fluffy, while muscle fibers are small and very dense, but when comparing the two, there is no competition. Muscle might weigh the same as fat, but it is much leaner and occupies less space within the body.
Using Strength Training To Lose Weight
If your goal is to shed a few extra pounds or even just to become healthier, a balanced routine of cardio and strength training is your best bet to get into the best shape of your life. Cardio alone will not help you keep the weight off. Yes, it is fantastic for allowing an individual to lose a couple of pounds and become leaner, however, through strength training and by building muscle, you will be able to not only shed the weight but also keep it off for good. You can’t just hit the treadmill or elliptical if you want the best results! If you wish to double up with solid cardio and training, it is recommended you do cardio after hitting the weights because cardio depletes the body of energy and can set you up for a severe injury, especially if you are lifting heavier weights after.
How Often Should I Be Training?
Fitness experts recommend, on average, an individual should perform their strength training routine three to four days per week and ensure they are not doing routines back to back, especially if the person is doing a full-body routine. Individuals should always give their body time to rest and rebuild the muscle tissues they have ‘torn’ while working out, and give themselves a day in between training for the muscles to recover and grow. This is a classic example of more is not always better, so ensure you are giving your muscles the proper rest they need for you to see the results you want to achieve. If a muscle group is still sore from the last workout, it more than likely needs a more extended rest period to recover. Experts and trainers alike also recommend individuals always warm up and cool down during a workout, as both of these actions protect the body from possible injury and allow you to stay active.
Why It’s Better Than Just Cardio
While cardio does burn calories and fat, a high rep strength training regime has high EPOC or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, which describes how long your metabolism is elevated after exercise. Research shows a well-planned strength program can elevate EPOC or metabolism for up to thirty-eight hours after a workout, and the body will continue to burn calories long after strength training. In comparison, once you’ve completed a cardio workout, the calories stop being burned. Strength training builds lean muscle that burns calories at a higher rate, even while you are at rest.
Technically speaking, an individual might burn fewer calories during a one hour strength training routine than running for an hour, but the lean muscle built during that workout creates an elevated burn that lasts between twenty-four to forty-eight hours after you’ve completed the workout. This means an individual who solely uses cardio to lose weight will need to consume fewer calories just to maintain their current weight leading to yo-yo dieting, whereas an individual will struggle a lot less with strength training, as the body will need those extra calories due to the extra energy expelled.
The Benefits Of Both Forms Of Exercise
Besides the fact that strength training helps you lose fat, it also provides a multitude of health benefits. These include increased bone density, improved coordination and mood, better balance, stronger ligaments and tendons, and a decreased risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, obesity, depression, and anxiety. Research has indicated it is essential for every fitness level and age to exercise regularly due to the numerous health benefits, which should include some form of weight lifting and cardio. Don’t let this persuade you that cardio workouts are outdated, as cardio workouts are incredibly important for your health as well.
Cardio has been proven to release feel-good hormones such as dopamine, encourage healthy blood flow and circulation, is crucial for heart health, and can help with improving bone density, and decrease the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and more health-related issues. Moderation and variety are critical when it comes to working out and to also prevent you from becoming bored with your workout regime, which is why a combination of strength training and cardio is the best plan for any individual to follow. Remember, building muscle is a great thing, and is an investment into a higher metabolism, which is necessary if you want to burn off body fat and make it much easier for you to stay a lean and healthy machine!
Examples Of Strength Training Workouts
There are numerous workout programs and strength training exercises that anybody can perform. One example of a solid workout plan for a beginner is to start with altering days between strength training and cardio. For instance, you can do strength training exercises focusing on particular body parts on certain days, such as Monday for upper body, Wednesday for core training, and Friday for lower body. Cardio is incorporated on Tuesday and Thursday, and the weekend can be used for rest or participating in another fun, healthy activity, such as yoga or pilates.
Some examples of strength training exercises for the lower body are regular, plie, or pistol squats, regular or Bulgarian split lunges, calf raises, and donkey kickbacks or fire hydrants with resistance bands. Examples of upper body exercises are bench press, biceps curls, tricep dips, and arm raises. Core strength exercises include mountain climbers, weighted crunches, plank side-crunches, bicycles, spider crawls, scissors, and a weighted plank. Remember all of these exercises should be done with the right weights for you, and don’t overexert yourself as it takes time to build up to a higher weight.
Now that you’re armed with the proper knowledge about strength training hit the gym and don’t be afraid to pick up those weights, as they are the secret to you losing weight and keeping it off for good.