How ironic is it that training with weights, resulting in an increase in muscle mass, is a key to weight loss! Why is that?
As it turns out, strength training helps with weight loss in the following six ways.
1) Preventing You from Gaining Back Lost Weight
Many people work hard to lose weight, but unfortunately most of them do not keep it off. You have to burn as many calories per day as you eat to maintain your weight at its present level. One way to burn more calories is to include strength training as part of your physical activity. Not only does the training itself burn calories, but as you build muscle mass your body will burn more calories to keep the larger muscle mass functioning than it did when you had a smaller mass. As far as weight loss is concerned, strength training has a two-fold effect.
2) Reducing Your Risk for Type 2 Diabetes
Adult Onset Diabetes (Type 2) is a loss of the body’s ability to control blood sugar. A new study recently showed the people in the study having the most muscle mass significantly lowered their risk of getting the Type 2 disease. How does this relate to weight loss? People with Type 2 diabetes often gain a significant amount of weight. Reduce the risk by maintaining or gaining muscle mass and you can avoid (or at least reduce) the related weight gain.
3) Maintaining Muscle Density
As part of the normal aging process, we lose muscle mass, known as sarcopenia. Around age 40, an inactive adult loses about a 3% to 5% every 10 years. Around age 70, the loss accelerates. One of the best known treatments to prevent sarcopeni is strength training. If you can maintain muscle mass, your body will burn more calories to maintain the functioning of those muscles than if you have reduced mass. Burning more calories avoids or at least lessens weight gain.
4) Preventing Injuries
Many injuries (especially in older people) are caused by a loss of muscle mass. Prevent the loss and you can reduce your risk for falls and broken bones. Good muscle tone means better balance which can prevent falls. If you can stay active, and not get sidelined by an injury for a long time, you have a better chance of not gaining weight.
5) Improving Function
Strength training increases your ability to function better. Working muscles with weights increases range of motion, keeps muscle tone and helps maintain flexibility. Lose these things and you gradually become less active. Become less active and you will have a harder time maintaining your weight and a significantly harder time trying to lose weight.
And these are only part of the benefits derived from strength training. As you can see, strength training is not an option in your weight loss program – it is critical. If you are not strength training at least two days per week, start now. It is one way to increase your metabolism, a critical part of weight loss.
6) How Often to do Strength Training for Losing Weight
If you are wondering how often you should strength train to lose weight, you need to understand exactly what strength training does first. A basic definition of strength training is any type of physical exertion or exercise that stresses your muscles and causes them to work against either resistance or weight, tearing them down so your body rebuilds them bigger and stronger.
This could include lifting weights, performing body weight exercises, or any other number of activities. If weight loss is your goal, the American College of Sports Medicine believes a minimum of two sessions of resistance training as well as three 20 minute cardio sessions are needed every week to achieve minimum acceptable fitness levels and to begin weight loss.
Strength training to lose weight simply means starting out with those resistance and cardio sessions on a weekly basis, while slowly and progressively adding weightlifting sessions. Muscles need at least 48 hours to repair after they are stressed, so plan your strength training exercises accordingly. Always make sure you warm up before beginning and cool down after your strength training workouts to prevent injuries.
An injury can keep you on the sideline and slow down your weight loss, which is accelerated when you increase your level of lean muscle tissue. This causes your body to burn calories at a higher rate, which accelerates weight loss. Practicing resistance training and cardio will help you lose weight, especially if you have a significant excess, but strength training is far and away the best way to lose weight through exercise.
Strength training three times a week, even if you are a beginner using very light weights, can allow you to schedule even the most intense workouts with 48 hours of rest before your next session. Strength trainers the world over have employed a Monday – Wednesday – Friday workout schedule because this regimen dovetails nicely with the typical Monday through Friday work week.
Whatever schedule you decide upon, make sure you keep properly hydrated during and after your strength training. You should also give your body the necessary fuel to build your muscles, in the form of carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
Intensive strength training three days a week with ample rest between sessions allows your body to heal and prepare for the next workout, and to burn fat. The proper diet ensures that your muscles will continue to grow bigger and stronger as you improve the amount of lean muscle mass on your body, which in turn leads to significant fat weight loss.