There is the common conception that best way to lose weight through exercise is by doing cardio – and lots of it. While this is true, cardio alone probably won’t give you the results you’re looking for. Sure, it’ll make the number on the scale go down, but if you want to make your clothes fit better and improve your overall appearance and health, you need to incorporate strength training into your workouts.
Strength training will help you burn fat, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be losing weight. You may actually gain a little weight in muscle, but you’ll notice an improvement in muscle tone and you’ll appear leaner. Strictly doing cardio will burn fat, but it will also cause you to lose muscle. In fact, 25% of the weight you lose through cardio is muscle. Strength training, on the other hand, burns fat while building muscle, so 100% of the weight lost is fat.
Another great benefit of building muscle is that it ultimately raises your basal metabolic rate (BMR). It can boost your metabolism up to fifteen percent. This is an extremely important factor when it comes to maintaining weight loss. If you want to lose weight, do cardio. If you want to lose weight and keep it off, lift weights.
Larger muscles require more energy to function, which means they burn more calories and fat. Even at rest, lean muscles burn more calories than body fat does. Studies have shown that for every three pounds of muscle you gain, your body burns an extra 120 calories every day without you having to do anything extra.
After a strength training workout, your body requires energy to repair your muscles. This means your metabolism can stay elevated for up to 39 hours after lifting weights. This is called Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption. If you just do cardio, this doesn’t happen and your metabolism returns to normal when your workout is over.
Here are a few tips if you’re just getting started with strength training:
- Lift three to four times a week on nonconsecutive days.
- Focus on lifts that recruit the most muscle groups, such as squats, deadlifts, and presses.
- Alternate between upper and lower body exercises.
- Start light and work up to heavier weights while keeping safe exercise form.