Written by: Elsie Velazquez, cert. Personal Trainer with Prescription Fitness (Cleveland, Ohio)
I am willing to bet that when you think about what the best workout for weight loss is, your mind does not immediately jump think of strength training. Right? Well, you should. While it is true that doing cardio will make your heart work hard and as a result, help your body burn calories, strength training is what’s really going to give you the extra boost you need to lose weight.
If your motivator for working out is to lose weight (it is not the goal for everyone), it is important to set realistic goals and to do it in a healthy way. Seeing results can be incredibly difficult for some…maintaining weight loss may be even harder. Creating a caloric deficit is very important (burning more than you take in). This will require not only being diligent with your diet but will also require regular workouts. With so many factors to think about, it is crucial that you are smart about your workouts. You want to make every minute count!
In addition to weight loss benefits, here are a few additional benefits of weight training:
- Tones muscles
- Decreases your risk of injury while doing daily activities
- Increases endurance and flexibility’
- Protects and can possibly reduce pain in your joints
- Increases bone mass
- Increases energy levels
Incorporating strength training into your routine is an important aspect when it comes to losing weight. While strength training may not give you the instant heart-pounding, sweaty satisfaction of your zumba class or spin class, building lean muscle mass will definitely work in your favor when it comes to your weight-loss goals. Having more muscle means your body burns more calories at rest. Having more muscle also increases your everyday base metabolic rate (BMR). Think of it this way, a pound of muscle has a higher metabolic demand than a pound of fat. If you are sitting around, you will burn more calories doing so if you have more muscle than fat.
Another reason that strength training is beneficial when trying to lose weight is what is called “the after-burn” effect. Cardio such as running or cycling, is great for burning lots of calories at a time and increasing heart rate and lung capacity. But where strength training wins (and you win) is that your body will burn calories for up to 72 hours after the workout. Strength training should be more about making the body lean, toned, and strong instead of how much weight you can lift. Always challenge yourself but be smart – allow your body to recover between intense strength training workouts.
If you fear that giving up cardio will significantly decrease the amount of calories you burn during your workout, don’t be! You can have the best of both worlds by adding some heart-pumping cardio bursts to your strength training routine. There are a few easy ways to do this: move faster between exercises, don’t rest between sets, move quickly during each set, increase your reps, and choose heavier weights.
If you have any questions about cardio versus weight training, contact our fitness staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.