How Strength Training Can Help You Manage Your Weight
An important variable in any weight management equation is calorie burn. While what you eat significantly affects how many pounds you carry on your figure by controlling calories in, how you exercise makes a difference in calories out. Certainly cardiovascular activities, like walking, running, cycling, and swimming can burn quite a few calories, particularly when performed at high intensities, but strength training also offers significant benefit when it comes to slimming down.
Muscle tissue constantly burns calories, even when you’re not moving. Unfortunately as we age, we lose somewhere between 3 and 8 percent of our muscle mass per decade, beginning at about age 30, and calorie-burning declines. Strength training, of course, builds muscle, and more muscle means increased metabolism. Several studies show that regular resistance training on two or three nonconsecutive days can increase muscle mass whether you’re 25 or 105. One large-scale study of women and men between the ages of 21 and 80 who participated in a 10-week combined strength and aerobic activity program found a mean increase in muscle tissue of nearly 3 pounds (1.3kg) by the end of the 10 weeks.
Strength training offers a secret weight management bonus. In addition to the calories torched during a resistance workout plus those flamed by a higher metabolism, you can add in the results of the after-burn: performing resistance exercises creates some micro-trauma to muscle tissue, so during the 72 hours post-workout, your body is busy working to repair the damage. Work requires energy and energy production burns calories. Based on the results of several studies, experts estimate that regular resistance training may boost resting metabolism to burn an additional 100 calories (418 kJ) a day.
Several studies of strength training have shown that with gains in muscle, there are corresponding shrinkage in fat tissue. One large-scale study that looked at changes in body composition in men and women who participated in a 10-week program of combined exercise and resistance training on non-consecutive days found, at the end of the 10 weeks, a nearly 3-pound (1.3kg) increase in lean tissue and a 3-pound-12-ounce (1.7kg) drop in body fat. Not only have you shrunk dormant fat tissue and gained metabolism-raising muscle, but lean tissue takes up less volume than fat does, so you may look thinner even if you’ve dropped only a little bit of weight.
Facilitates Physical Activity
The stronger and fitter you are, the more likely you are to increase activity as it becomes easier, enjoyable, and more enticing. Maybe the stronger version of you will decide to run a local 5K. Maybe you’ll set a goal to hike a hard trail at the nearby state park. The more physically active you are, the easier it can be to keep your weight where you want it. It’s a chain reaction that may lead to a slimmer, healthier, happier you.