Does this sound familiar: you’ve tried losing a few kilos, but the scale just doesn’t seem to move. So you’ve gone back to the gym or you’ve hit the streets to get in a few more minutes of running.
Believe it or not, you may be experiencing one of the common pitfalls of trying to lose weight – only opting for cardio.
We have a possible solution: try strength training for weight loss as a part of your workout routine. Better yet, combine cardio and strength training to see some long-lasting results.
Here’s how to give it a go this year:
What is Strength Training?
Strength training is a type of exercise that refers to your muscles contracting against an outside force. Usually, the outside force is some form of weight, like a weight machine, a barbell, or dumbbells. But it can also be in the form of resistance, such as body weight, resistance bands, or resistance straps.
Strength Training vs. Resistance Training
Resistance training involves pushing or pulling against the resistance of a force. This can be resistance bands or straps, or it can be your body weight. Your muscles still contract against this force, just as they do with strength training.
Strength training, on the other hand, refers to using large amounts of muscle tissue to increase the weights you lift. That said, resistance training can fall under the umbrella of strength training and they are often used interchangeably.
Benefits of Strength Training
Like many forms of exercise, strength training is ripe with benefits for your physical and mental health. This makes it one of the best forms of exercise you can adopt.
Some of the many benefits include:
- Strengthening your bones
- Improving mental health
- Reducing the risk of injuries and falls outside of working out
- Creating a better quality of life
In our complete guide on strength training, you can discover in-depth reasons as to why it’s heralded as one of the best workouts for your body, including fat loss.
Strength Training for Weight Loss: How Does It Work?
You may be wondering just how strength training helps with weight loss. After all, we’ve been conditioned to believe that spending hours on the treadmill is the key to burning calories and losing body fat.
However, research and studies have shown us that strength training for weight loss is just as effective as cardio. And of course, when you remove the idea of “cardio vs. strength training for weight loss,” and instead combine the two, you can really see results.
So here are the top three benefits of strength training for weight loss:
Burn More Calories at Rest
Cardio is known to burn calories and fat during your workout. But strength training burns calories well after your workout. How does this happen?
Strength training is directly related to building muscle mass and muscle burns more calories at rest than other tissues, such as fat. That’s also how you inevitably alter your basal metabolic rate (calories your body burns while resting) and many studies have shown that changing your BMR is key to losing weight.
Feel the “After Burn” Effect
Similar to changing your resting metabolic rate, strength training for weight loss is often ideal because your body burns more calories in the hours following your workout than it does after cardio.
Some reports even show that your metabolic rate stays elevated for 24-72 hours after weight training. Those results have not been documented with a cardio workout.
Many health and fitness experts call this the “after burn” effect. If you’re trying to lose weight, then you may want to take advantage of these extra calories burned during strength training (and after!).
Improve Blood Sugar Management
For many people trying to lose weight, managing blood sugar is a hidden necessity. It’s not directly visible, so often, people don’t think about it when building their workout routine and weight loss plan.
Yet, strength training is recommended as part of a well-rounded exercise regime by diabetes associations around the globe.
Why is that? That’s because insulin resistance is often a leading cause of higher body fat percentages. It’s also one of the leading causes of visceral fat (belly fat).
Lifting weights helps your body use insulin more efficiently. Since your muscles use glucose (sugar) for energy during your workout, consistent strength training also trains your muscles to efficiently move sugar from your bloodstream to your muscles.
As you build muscle, you allow them to absorb more glucose, which can help lower blood sugars. Helping your body naturally manage blood sugars is one of the key ways to lose weight.
Many doctors and experts also recommend combining 150 minutes of moderate intensity cardio exercise (such as brisk walking or jogging) per week with 2-4 strength training sessions each week.
Debunking Common Myths Around Strength Training For Weight Loss
As strength and weight training has gained popularity in recent years, many common myths have popped up. These myths often keep people from adopting this form of fitness method or worse, face disappointment when the results don’t match their expectations.
Myth 1: Strength Training Will Outperform Your Diet
According to this myth, you can train by lifting weights and eat practically whatever you want, and still see a change in your body composition.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case. And it may be one of the reasons why people don’t see results from their physical activity. No matter what training program you adopt, if you’re trying to lose weight, you’ll still need to be in a calorie deficit.
That means your calorie intake needs to be lower than the amount of calories you burn to see the number on the scale drop.
Myth 2: Strength Training Makes You Bulky
This myth probably came from the days when massive bodybuilders were taking the world by storm. And that has unfortunately kept many people (especially women) away from weights altogether.
The truth is – strength training has the potential to make you bulky. However, this is only if you’re eating massive amounts of the proteins and lifting extremely heavy weights to help you build larger muscle mass.
Another thing to remember is that adding muscle mass on top of body fat can make you appear “bulky.” To counteract that, you’ll need to refer back to our debunked myth #1 (eat in a calorie deficit)!
Get Started with Strength Training at Aura Leisure
Taking the first steps in your weight loss journey can be one of the most difficult. And it becomes increasingly tough when there’s a new method of training involved.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with where to start, don’t worry! We’re here to help.
Aura Leisure Centres are fully equipped to help you get started with your fitness journey, including strength training. With the help of our exclusive programmes (which are free for members!), Fit for Life and Lean3, we’ll help you see the results you’re looking for.