For years now, there has been a big mis-conception that all you need to do to lose weight is start running, or hop on an elliptical for an hour. We are told to burn as many calories as possible during our workout and focus on cardio as our primary form of exercise.
Most of this idea comes from most people not wanting to look like a “bodybuilder” so they often avoid weight training, thinking they will become “bulky” from heavy weights and cardio will get them “toned”.
Don’t get us wrong, cardio plays a large role in losing body fat and keeping a healthy heart, BUT strength training is often the missing puzzle to breaking through a weight loss plateau. Keeping muscles strong and active will increase your RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate), so you will burn more calories at rest.
Building lean muscle mass is truly the answer to losing weight at a healthy pace AND keeping it off! Do you find yourself and people you know doing the yearly cycle of losing 20lbs from doing cardio and eating less, then gaining it all back just in time for the next New Year resolution? Building muscle from strength training can and will be the answer to stopping that cycle.
As stated above, most of us worry that strength training and lifting heavy will give us the “bulky” look when this is not true. Toning means building muscle, you need to increase lean muscle mass in order to “tone” your body – doing only cardio will not offer this benefit.
Losing it in the right places
Another benefit of weight lifting is that you will lose your weight correctly. As a personal trainer, I often see clients pay close attention to the scale when this is not the only measure of progress and can at times fool you that you are losing actual body fat. If you never build muscle on your weight loss journey – you won’t be very happy with flabby arms and “skinny fat” look once you’ve hit your goal weight.
Don’t forget the body has multiple energy stores including body fat, Glycogen, and water. If you have a significant amount of weight to lose and are only doing cardio – often times you will lose Glycogen and water storage which can be a huge amount of weight! Although this is a good thing and you will feel/look different, you haven’t tapped into actual fat storage which is what matters about keeping weight off. If you only lose Glycogen and water – you will most likely gain those pounds back very quickly and easily.
When you lift weights and increase muscle mass, you will again increase your metabolic rate and burn more calories throughout your day – resulting in better long term fat loss. Remember slow and steady wins the race when it comes to weight loss, quit looking for quick fixes and get to liftin’ some weights!