First and foremost in order to understand the benefits of strength training for weight loss, we must first uncover a few myths and misconceptions associated with strength (resistance) training.
Myth (1) Lifting weights will make you bulky.
The most common misconception or myth women think of when it comes to lifting weights and strength training is that it will make you bulky or make you look like a “man”.
Women who lift weights will become stronger but obviously not as strong as a man as they have a fraction of the natural “muscle building hormone” aka testosterone that men, which is required to build a big bulky physique.
The exception is of course anyone – male or female – who injects themselves with testosterone or an anabolic substances can go beyond their natural muscular development, therefore becoming “bulky”.
Myth (2) Strength training can help you lose weight from certain areas
Don’t believe the products that promise to help you lose “stubborn tummy fat”, unfortunately we have no control over where we lose fat from or have the ability to reduce fat from certain areas of your body.
Some people may lose fat from where they carry it most eg: their tummy, thighs or bum. These are considered their “problem areas”, so it’s more noticeable. However for most others, they lose fat everywhere else first, rather than their “problem areas” which are particularly stubborn.
So what do we have control over? We have control over where we add lean muscle mass to. Thus making you appear tighter and firmer, even if you haven’t lost body fat from that particular area. The more muscle you have the more fat you will burn (we will cover this in the following point).
Myth (3) Cardio burns more fat than lifting weights
By increasing your lean muscle mass you end up burning more energy & calories during the day by doing everyday things like walking, shopping, cooking, hanging up the washing, breathing…. You get the point.
More muscle you have, the more it enhances your metabolic functions throughout the day & during rest periods. Your metabolism continues to work at a higher pace hence burning more fat throughout the day..
That’s where strength training fits in, it exponentially increases your ability to build lean muscle and burn unwanted fat even while you‘re sleeping so make sure to add strength training into your your cardio routine.
Myth (4) Weight lifting is dangerous
Everyone must start off as beginner, not matter what the subject is, whether it’s riding a bike or snowboarding or water skiing or weight lifting, we aren’t born experts.
As with all new activities there is a degree of danger and the risk of injury. Not all risks can be eliminated but majority can be reduced following simply and easy steps before beginning any strength training program eg: Ensuring you select a program that matches your ability, comfort level, conducting proper warming up and stretches and understanding correct lifting techniques. This can be learnt by either hiring a personal trainer to show you correct form and technique or by following YouTube videos and ensuring you start with a reasonable weight and not trying to lift too heavy too quickly.
Myth (5) strength training isn’t good for older women (60 years and above)
It’s a must for older women to participate in some form of activity designed to strengthen the larger muscle groups, as the aging process makes muscle and bone deteriorate and slows their metabolism. By conducting strength based activities targeting these large muscle groups it will help maintain their health & lifestyles performance. In developing stronger bones, healthier joints, better balance, improved risk of falls and decreased risk of insulin resistance and diabetes.
Now that we have covered a few of the misconceptions and myths associated with strength (resistance) training. Let’s take a look at the benefits!
Benefit (1) You WILL lose body fat
The more lean muscle you stack on the more your resting metabolism increases, allowing you to burn calories all day long as opposed to limiting yourself to burning calories when you’re running on the treadmill. For each pound of muscle you gain, you’ll burn 35-50 more calories each day which definitely adds up.
The biggest advantage of weight training and losing body fat is that you can burn fat after exercise. You continue to consume additional oxygen in the hours and even days that follow your training. When your body consumes more oxygen, it requires more caloric expenditure and an increased metabolic rate.
Benefit (2) Healthy Heart
It’s said that 45 minutes of moderate intensity strength (resistance) training can lower your blood pressure by up to 20%. Strength training can also reduces heart disease risk factors such as large waist circumference, high triglycerides & elevated glucose levels and by adding cardiovascular exercise into your routine will, maximize the benefits on your hear
Benefit (3) You’ll drop a dress size or three!
The more muscle you gain, the more fat you will lose therefore you will be smaller in size.
You can drop one to two (or more) dress sizes even knowing your body weight may go up with strength training. Try to avoid the scales, muscle weights more than fat, focus on what your clothes feel like. As you build muscle, your body will begins to take a nice hourglass shape.
Cardiovascular exercise will helps you lose weight and that weight is usually made up of both fat and muscle tissue, this isn’t the goal you should be aiming for, if you’re losing both fat and muscle, you lose that lovely shape. Where as strength training can help you create and maintain that shape and figure.