How Can Strength Training Help You Lose Weight?

People who want to lose that extra few pounds mostly do cardio. While it’s definitely true that it will get your heart rate up and help your body burn those unwanted calories, what’s really going to give you that extra boost is proper strength training. Strength training exercise could strengthen your bones, improve your balance, benefit your heart, and help you lose weight. If you thought that it’s all about bodybuilders lifting weights to chisel their bodies in the gym, you were wrong, because it can benefit people of all ages, especially those with certain health issues such as heart condition and arthritis.

strength training

Incorporating strength training into your workout routine is crucial if your goal is losing weight. These are just some of the benefits of strength training for weight loss.

1. Burning calories

When it comes to burning calories, cardio gets a lot of credit, but you can still burn a fair number of calories during an explosive strength-training session. To maximise your burn, you need to move quickly during each set, move faster between exercises, increase your reps, don’t rest between sets, and choose heavier weights (but don’t risk injury by going too heavy). You can also add a cardio burst between strength moves by jogging or sprinting on the treadmill for 5 minutes.

By training like this, your heart rate will increase, which means an increase in your need for fuel. The greater the need for fuel, the greater your body’s demand for calories is. This intense workout routine leads to EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) going up, which means more calories are being burned after your training (this is known as the afterburn effect).

2. Building lean muscle

Aerobic exercise is not the best for increasing lean mass and burning fat as it is in losing weight. By doing just cardio, you’ll losing both fat and muscle, while adding strength training to your workout plan will counteract this. Otherwise, you will be slowing your metabolism down, you won’t be revving up your metabolism and you will lose lean mass (muscle) instead.

Resistance training is much better for building muscle than a routine solely comprised of cardio exercises. When lifting weights, your muscles adapt (to be able to lift more weight) by increasing their myofibrillar size (in other words, the contractile units of the muscle). Strength training stimulates muscle growth and leads to an increased muscle mass over time. This increase is not as great with aerobic exercise as it is with strength exercise.

3. Increase in base metabolic rate (BMR)

The human body burns more calories at rest when it has more lean muscle. Your everyday BMR, or base metabolic rate, is increased if you have more muscle. This rate determines the number of calories your body would burn if it did nothing but keep itself running. Why? Well, muscle mass is known to be a more metabolically expensive tissue, and the metabolic demand for a pound of fat is lesser than it is for a pound of muscle. This means that, just by sitting around, the amount of energy needed to maintain a pound of fat per day is lesser than that of a pound of muscle. To put it simply, you burn more calories throughout the day when you have more muscle.

Muscle tissue is constantly being broken down, recreated, and synthesised. All of these metabolic processes require a certain amount of energy, and it takes more energy for it when you have more muscle. By burning more calories at rest and increasing your BMR, you increase your calorie deficit which is essential for weight loss. Also, don’t feel dissatisfied if the scale doesn’t show much difference in results. Muscle is more compact than fat, so just go by how your clothes fit. It doesn’t mean that you’re not losing as much weight as you thought you would – you’re building muscle in the process as well, and that newly built muscle greatly influences your decrease in body fat.

4. Incorporating strength training into your weight-loss plan

In order to lose weight, you still have to burn more than you take in. Resistance training can help keep that up long-term, but you still need to combine it with a challenging cardio routine to maximise your results and help your caloric deficit. Don’t do just cardio, or just strength training – do both. So, gear up with some quality gym clothes for both disciplines, wear what will allow you to move freely, reduce the risk of injury, and make you feel comfortable, and hit the gym.

Perform strength training sessions 3-4 times per week for up to 60 minutes, because it will enable you to endure more during your cardio training. It will take you less effort to complete your aerobic exercise once you start getting stronger. For example, if you have strong glutes, you’ll be able to run faster for longer periods of time (which means burning more calories). By strengthening your core, you’ll be able to maintain your form for cycling.

The moral of the story is: don’t underestimate the power of strength training when it comes to weight loss. It will help you build lean muscle, increase your base metabolic rate, burn calories, and make you stronger for your cardio sessions. By combining cardio and strength training exercises, you will ensure to maximise your results – losing weight, as well as getting stronger, leaner, and healthier.

If you do not know where to start when it comes to strength training, our Physical Trainer Joel Quek, is more than happy to take your enquiries and even work out a fitness regime based on your fitness level.


Photo credit: Pexels and Pixabay

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