Why Lifting Weights is the Way to Go
When you decide it’s time to try and lose weight, what’s the first thing you do? If you’re like most people, you put yourself on a diet of some kind and start a new exercise regimen. The type of workout you chose makes a tremendous difference in how successful your weight loss will be. A popular choice among people trying to shed pounds is cardio: walking, running, the elliptical, and so on. While an exercise routine heavily emphasizing cardio is likely to help with weight loss, it overlooks the importance of strength training. Incorporating weight training into your weight loss strategy is vital for success.
Weight training builds muscle mass.
Obviously, you might be thinking. But here’s the thing: after puberty, we start to lose muscle (and bone) mass1. The number on the scale might stay about the same, but the ratio of fat to muscle starts to tip more and more on the fat side. And don’t fall into the trap of thinking strength training will make you look like a body builder (unless that’s what you want, of course)! Moderate amounts of weight training will actually be your secret to getting that toned, athletic body all the cardio in the world will never sculpt for you.
More muscle equals a faster metabolism.
The best part about building muscle is how much it boosts your metabolism. Muscle burns more calories than fat does. Thus, increasing your muscle mass equals increasing the amount of calories you burn without even trying. Strength training has been proven to increase your metabolism by about 15%1 for around 39 hours after your workout2. So while cardio might help you burn more calories while you’re exercising, strength training increases the amount of calories you continue burning after your workout.
Weight training burns fat, not muscle.
This is huge. One study2 comparing the weight loss of three groups of people (no exercise, only aerobic, or aerobic combined with weight training) showed that while all three groups lost about the same number of pounds, the group incorporating weight training lost 40% more fat than the other groups. The unfortunate downfall of too much cardio is the result of losing muscle mass with fat. Adding strength training to your aerobic routine minimizes this damaging result.
Weight training keeps you in better shape.
Aside from gaining a toned body, weight training offers a range of additional benefits: you’ll have better balance, improved coordination, more energy, a better mood, and a healthier heart. Strength training can decrease your risk of falling by up to 40%1, and studies have shown this form of exercise to reduce your diastolic blood pressure enough to lower your risk of heard attack by 15% and stroke by 40%2!
Weight training is a long-term weight loss solution.
Maintaining hard-won weight loss is often more of a struggle than losing the weight itself. One study1 revealed weight training just three times a week significantly helped participants maintain their goal weight.
Adding strength training to your exercise routine is easy. Because you’re putting more strain on your muscles, they need time to recover in-between sessions; weight training 2-3 times a week is a good goal. As far as intensity, you want to do an exercise until your muscles feel exhausted. This means you do those pushups until you reach the point of not being able to continue doing the exercise in proper form. Be careful to not overextend or injure yourself, but the point of strength training is to push yourself to the limit each time. Don’t restrict yourself to just weights, either: free weights, machines, exercise bands, and resistance exercises (pushups, planks, etc.) all qualify.