Do you want to reduce body fat, increase lean muscle mass and burn more calories? That’s exactly what you will accomplish when you include strength training into your fitness routine. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, strength training, also called resistance or weight training, is physical activity designed to improve muscular fitness by exercising a specific muscle or muscle group against an external resistance including free weights, weight machines, or your own body weight.
Strength training is an essential component to overall health and wellness for everyone. Here’s why:
Weight Training for Weight Loss
In my last article, I covered the role of nutrition in losing fat while building muscle and why it’s critical to do both. Cardio is essential for strengthening your heart and building aerobic capacity. The importance of a strong cardiovascular system should not be underestimated. But what about cardio-only for weight loss? Cardio will shrink you, that’s for sure, but let’s consider how it will shrink you.
A recent Duke University study showed that aerobic exercisers lost more weight in less time than strength trainers. The key word here is “weight”. In a separate Penn State study, dieters lost 21 pounds over a specific time-period whether they were doing cardio exercise or strength exercise. However, nearly one-third of the weight loss for the cardio group came from muscle loss. The lifters lost almost exclusively fat while maintaining and even building muscle. Weight training not only favors fat “burning” but it also allows you to keep the muscle you have and even build more which translates into sustainable fat loss. Cardio alone will favor both fat and muscle burning which doesn’t help us reach our body composition goal of losing fat while building muscle.
Not Just for Body Builders – 6 Reasons Why
The benefits to weight training are far broader than fat loss. Building lean muscle is crucial for several important reasons:
1) Overall quality of life improves when you are strong and are able to participate in a variety of activities from recreational to competitive sports, to lifting the 50-pound bag of dog food into the trunk of your car. A strong body is better at everything.
2) The more muscle you are carrying around, the higher your basal metabolic rate, or BMR, so you get to burn more calories just existing! In other words, when you have a bigger engine, you require more fuel.
3) You are at reduced risk for injury when you have good musculature because your bones and joints are protected by strong stabilizers. Your body mechanics improve with weight training as well, which means better balance, coordination and posture.
4) More muscle means higher bone density.
5) A muscular body looks great! Lean muscle makes the body look more toned and defined.
6) Weight training can help boost energy levels, improve mood and self-confidence.
So, there you have it. Weight training is paramount to attaining a fit and healthy body. A personal trainer is a great resource for developing a resistance training program that is specific to attaining your goals, as well as assuring that you are doing the exercises with proper form and technique. Using proper form and technique are critical in order to receive the most benefit from the workout and to keep you safe and injury free.
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