Many people see weightlifting as a way to build huge muscles and achieve a body builder-looking physique. While this is a motivation for some, weightlifting is something everyone can and should do for optimal fitness. And you won’t end up looking like a body builder, either. It doesn’t matter your age, fitness level, or health goals. Everyone can benefit from lifting weights.
Strength training promotes healthy bone density, skeletal muscle mass, and a healthy body fat percentage. In this way, weightlifting will help you lose weight, boost your metabolism and give you a lean, toned physique.
WHAT IS STRENGTH TRAINING?
Strength training involves using some form of resistance against your body to increase the size and strength of your skeletal muscles.
Forms of resistance can include:
- Resistance bands
- Your own body weight
Weightlifting increases lean muscle mass, and, of course, builds stronger muscles.
HOW DOES WEIGHTLIFTING HELP TO LOSE WEIGHT?
Because strength training increases lean muscle mass, it aids in weight loss. How? Lean muscle mass helps your body burn calories more efficiently. It does this by increasing your Basal Metabolic Rate, or resting metabolism.
Two people could weigh the exact same amount, but the person with a higher muscle mass will burn fat and calories more efficiently. In addition, the person with less body fat and more muscle will look leaner and more toned.
THE AFTER BURN EFFECT OF WEIGHTLIFTING
In addition, weightlifting creates an afterburn effect. This means that it revs up your metabolism for up to several hours after your workout is complete. After a workout, your body has to complete various tasks to recover, repair and build muscle.
One of the ways your body works to recover is via an increase in oxygen consumption. This is called EPOC, or Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption. The duration of EPOC, or the afterburn, depends on both the duration and the intensity of your workout. It can range from a few hours up to a day or so.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOUR METABOLISM?
EPOC causes an increase in metabolism, which yields an additional calorie burn. How many extra calories will you burn? It depends. The longer and more intense your workout, the longer the afterburn; therefore, the more calories you’ll burn.
However, you are not going to turn into a calorie-burning machine. Studies show that even after intense workouts, EPOC yields only a slight increase in metabolism. This means that most people will not burn an exorbitant amount of calories post-workout (think anywhere from 30-200 calories).
Furthermore, you shouldn’t view EPOC as a license to eat anything and everything you want. Nutrition is the key to proper recovery, in addition to losing weight and building muscle. Rather, for optimum results, stick to nutritious, whole foods that are rich in protein. Things like lean meats, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts, and protein powder are all good choices.
Click here to read, “How to Start Eating Healthy and Stick to It” for more on nutrition.
HOW TO STRENGTH TRAIN FOR WEIGHT LOSS
The more resistance you use, the harder your body will work. This stimulates muscle growth, burns calories and boosts your metabolism. Therefore, try lifting moderate to heavy weights. You need to challenge your body to change your body!
If you’re a beginner, start out lifting light weights to acclimate yourself to the exercise. Then, gradually increase the load until you feel challenged.
Your body will adapt to the physical stress of lifting weights, and you will plateau if you always lift the same amount. Therefore, it’s important to gradually increase the amount of weight you lift in order to continue to lose weight and increase your fitness. Don’t worry about bulking up, either. This would require frequently lifting heavy weights plus supplementation.
In addition to how much resistance you use, it’s also important to consider the types of strength training exercises you perform. Full body or compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups will burn the most calories. These exercises can include;
- Sled pushes
These can also include a combination of two exercises such as;
- Bicep curl to overhead press
- Push-up to renegade row
These types of exercises will engage the big muscle groups and increase your heart rate. Therefore, you will burn a greater amount of calories and boost your metabolism.
HOW MUCH STRENGTH TRAINING IS NECESSARY?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week. Or, 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise, or a combination of the two. Preferably, this would be distributed across the week, for least 4 days of exercise. These guidelines also recommend at least 2 strength training sessions per week, using the major muscle groups.
Strength training sessions don’t have to take a long time in order to get the benefits. You can spend as little as 20 minutes lifting weights, or up to an hour or so. In general, the more intense the workout, the shorter it can be. Incorporating full body exercises like squats, lunges, and push-ups will engage the big muscle groups and therefore burn calories, even in a short amount of time.
WHAT ABOUT CARDIO?
Don’t forget about cardio! While strength training is essential to achieving lean body mass, cardio is also essential. Cardio burns more overall calories than strength training, which is necessary for weight loss. However, cardio does not increase lean body mass like strength training does. Therefore, a combination of strength training and cardio will give you optimal weight loss results.
WHAT’S THE PERFECT COMBINATION?
It varies from person to person. But in general, one cardio session for every strength training session will get the job done. Refer back to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans for general exercise recommendations. For more personalized exercise plans, speak with a healthcare or fitness professional to determine your specific needs.
Including strength and cardio, there are 4 Types of Exercise that will transform your body and improve your fitness.
TIME TO GET STARTED
Weightlifting is a critical component for losing weight and transforming your body. Regular strength training will yield a lean, toned physique, as well as improve overall confidence. If you’ve considered beginning a strength training regimen in the past but haven’t yet taken the first steps, now is the time! Get with a personal trainer or healthcare professional to come up with a plan that suits your needs and goals.
For more weight loss tips, check out my post on 9 Surprising Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Weight.