I often get asked why I stress so much on strength training when putting my clients on an effective weight loss program. Strength training over the past few years has become increasingly popular and has proven to be more effective than cardio machines, more efficient, and for most a lot less boring! I’ve put together some of the best reasons (but certainly not all!) why weight lifting is essential for fat loss.
First and foremost, the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism will be. Muscle mass burns fat for energy and you simply cannot build muscle mass with cardio.
The faster your metabolism is, the more food you either get to eat, and/or the more calories you will burn while resting. Yes, you can burn calories while watching TV!
When weight training, calories are burned for up to 36 hours afterwards. So if you train 3 to 5 days a week, your body is CONSTANTLY burning calories. More calories being burned = faster weight loss! Getting the picture?
Another reason to weight train is to actually CHANGE your body composition. When you do cardio, you are actually breaking down muscle, thus becoming a smaller version of yourself. When you weight train, you are building muscle. Muscle is more dense than fat. A pound of muscle takes up less space in your body than a pound of fat. Most programs recommend NOT stepping on the scale in the first weeks of a new training program. When you begin strength training, the number on the scale does not drop as quickly as if you were only doing cardio (i.e. not building muscle). Your weight may actually go higher, but don’t stress. In essence what you are doing is turning your body into a fat-burning machine by decreasing your fat stores and increasing your lean mass. You are on your journey to become a tight, toned, lean machine.
Weightlifting enables you to metabolize fat, not muscle.
When people are dieting, they are in a calorie deficit. While its very hard to build new muscle while dieting (except for those new to weight lifting) there is good reason to continue to incorporate strength training into your program. The reason I have clients lift heavy is to preserve their muscle mass. When in a calorie deficit, the first place energy is taken from is the muscle. This is why people who do only cardio become skinny and eventually saggy. They never achieve the look most people strive for (the shapely arms, the V taper back, the small waist and the shapely legs). If you continually lift weights even when dieting, you will hold onto as much strength and muscle mass as possible along the way.
Of course, fat loss comes from a balance of proper nutrition as well as strength training and effective cardio. Make sure to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your diet. You will see changes in just a short time.