Author- Dayna Hicken
When most people think of weight loss workouts their minds usually jump to cardio. Pounding out mile after mile on the treadmill or cycling ‘till you drop. These are solid workouts and, by all means, are great for you. But if weight loss is your goal, a different approach is needed.
Strength Training Is Where It's At
Now, I know as soon as I bring up strength training many women shy away and automatically assume they will become “huge” or develop rippling muscles and appear masculine. Well good news for the ladies, you simply don't have enough testosterone naturally in your body to develop that degree of musculature. Besides, in order to build that type of muscle, even with the right amount of testosterone, you would need to eat a ton of food, which most women don’t do anyways.
Working at a gym has given me a chance to observe exercise patterns of some “New Years Resolution” members. In general, they come to the gym and walk or jog on the treadmill for an hour and then leave. Now everybody has to start somewhere, but if weight loss is the goal, they are going to end up losing the wrong kind of weight.
Aerobic cardio exercise is in fact the best and most effective in weight loss, but what most people don't realize is that while they are “losing weight” , most of the weight is water weight and a decrease of muscle mass. Clearly, this is not the healthiest way to go about losing weight. By losing muscle, they are actually slowing down their metabolism rather than revving it up, which is key in weight loss.
Strength Training Is Better At Building Muscle With Weight Loss Than Cardio-Only Routines
Basically, when you lift weights the muscle is overloaded and it does its job to adapt to be able to lift more weight. The muscle adapts by increasing its myofibrillar size(the contractile units of the muscle).
Strength training helps stimulate this growth which will lead to an increase in muscle mass. Increasing muscle mass will increase your everyday base metabolic rate, (Which is basically how many calories your body burns just to keep itself going if you did nothing all day). Aerobic exercise can also stimulate this process, but not nearly as great as with resistance exercise.
Muscle mass is a more metabolically expensive tissue than fat, which means a pound of muscle burns more calories then a pound of fat while the body is at rest. Muscle is endlessly being broken down, rebuilt, and synthesized. So the more muscle you have the more calories you burn throughout the day.
At the end of the day the key to weight loss is ultimately burning off more calories than you consume. Watch portion sizes, focus on the food you eat and try to avoid empty calories. The foods you put in your mouth can have an even larger effect on your weight loss than working out, so be careful. An intense cardio workout can definitely help with that calorie deficit. So when trying to lose weight, don't completely give up on the cardio, but make sure to always include strength and resistance training about 2-3 times a week. You will begin to lose body fat instead of losing your hard earned muscle at the same time.
Remember, muscle is good. Muscle keeps your metabolism high and keeps you looking and feeling healthier. So don't focus on the pounds. If you focus on how you feel instead, your weight loss journey will be more effective and enjoyable.