When health experts speak about weight loss, the key word is “cardio,” and the more of it the better. However, cardiovascular activity has a long-neglected but very useful cousin — weight training for weight loss.
Far too many people neglect weight training at the expense of cardio when trying to achieve weight loss, and are disheartened when they hit a plateau where the scale refuses to budge. Strength training for weight loss can give you the necessary boost to keep you going on your weight loss journey.
Read on to learn more about the benefits of strength training for weight loss and for a healthy lifestyle.
Obesity—Just How Widespread Is It?
It’s no exaggeration to state that obesity is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, health epidemic of our time. In the United States alone, two-thirds of the population can be classified as overweight, according to the body mass index.
The body mass index is the standard measure that health experts use to determine if an individual is underweight, normal weight, overweight, obese, and morbidly obese.
In even more dire news, as many as one-third of U.S. citizens are obese. This is a category that places them at great risk for a multitude of health conditions.
Although the United States and Mexico are currently leading the world in obesity statistics, many other countries, especially in Europe, are beginning to jump on the bandwagon with their own expanding waistlines.
While the causes behind the obesity epidemic are frequently debated, the most often cited ones are the increasing availability of junk and fast foods and lack of exercise.
The Health Consequences of Obesity
The health consequences associated with obesity cannot be overstated.
According to the Center for Disease Control, obesity is directly correlated with Type 2 diabetes, a condition that shortens the lifespan of many individuals.
Other conditions that are positively correlated with obesity include
- coronary heart disease,
- high blood pressure,
- sleep apnea,
- reproductive problems, and
If that list isn’t bad enough, health experts also associate obesity with a greater risk of colon, breast, endometrial and gallbladder cancer.
However, the physical symptoms that come as a consequence of obesity only tell a portion of the story.
There are a variety of emotional problems that can come as a result of obesity, as society can be cruel to those who struggle with excess weight.
Strength training for weight loss builds muscle mass
The primary reason that strength training is so vital to weight loss is due to the fact that it builds muscle mass. It might be difficult to make the connection between muscle mass and weight loss at first, but it’s really quite simple. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you are capable of burning. This means that you can burn more calories with each cardiovascular workout you engage in. Not only that, but you also will burn more calories when you go about your daily activities, and even when you’re merely resting!
Strength Training increases endurance
Any marathon runner can tell you that, in order to achieve the amount of endurance necessary to reach the pinnacle of their success, they needed to build muscle in their legs.
Weak leg muscles simply won’t carry you as far as you need to go, regardless of the condition of your legs and heart.
In fact, having those well-toned legs will make life easier for your heart and lungs when you work out by taking some of the stress off of them. The simple fact is, the longer and more intense your cardio workout, the more calories you will burn, and the quicker you will see results.
How Do I Get Started with strength training to lose weight?
If possible, the best way to get started with lifting weights is at a gym, preferably with the assistance of a personal trainer.
However, not all of us can afford the one-on-one assistance of an expert, so we have to make do with the best we can. If you are able to afford a gym membership, you can get started by utilizing the many weight machines that will be available to you.
Weight machines are great for beginners because they provide you with the stabilization and proper form that most people lack when you start out lifting weights. However, eventually you will want to progress to free weights, where achieving your own stability and form is part of the strength training process.
When beginning a strength training regimen, remember that less is better. Try working out one set at a time, with only 12 to 15 repetitions.
Also, when choosing the amount of weight you’re going to begin with, moderation is key.
You want to find a weight that challenges you without overwhelming you. Many weight lifting novices think they’ve found the perfect weight after only a few repetitions, but as they keep lifting those weights, they find that it becomes far more challenging as their bodies become more fatigued. It’s much better to err on the side of lighter weights than heavier weights.
Try to lift weights at least three times a week, but remember that your days off are just as important as your strength training days. Your muscles need time to recuperate between sessions, as recuperation is a vital part of the strength-building process. For an even greater weight loss boost, you can use those rest days to focus more heavily on your cardio sessions.
By utilizing a good, rigorous strength training program, you’ll soon begin to see results with a sleeker, trimmer body and a BMI that’s well within a healthy range. Any weight loss plateau can be overcome with just a little bit of ingenuity and creativity, and using strength training for weight loss is just one of many ways you can put yourself back on track on the road to healthy living.