Incorporate weight training into your weight-loss program.
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When losing weight, many people turn immediately to cardiovascular exercise and look to drop their calorie intake to facilitate fat loss. One aspect that is often overlooked, however, is weight training. Lifting weights may be associated more with gaining strength and bulking up, but it is actually a highly effective tool in any weight-loss program and will give you better results than cardio alone.
When losing weight, you must burn more calories than you consume. This is known as a calorie deficit and forces your body to burn your stored fat for energy, which leads to weight loss. Cutting your calorie intake will help create a deficit, as will training. An hour of weight training burns between 365 and 545 calories, if you weigh between 160 and 240 pounds. You'll burn slightly less than this if you're under 160 pounds and slightly more if you're heavier than 240 pounds. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least two days of strength training each week, which would burn roughly 730 and 1,090 calories.
Your metabolism is the driving force behind your weight-loss success. A fast metabolism means you process calories quickly and lose weight faster, while a slow metabolism has the opposite effect. As you age, your muscle mass decreases, causing a drop in metabolic rate, according to Dr. Len Kravitz of the Idea Health and Fitness Association. By building muscle mass with weight training, you can increase your metabolism, helping you to burn calories more efficiently and achieve greater weight loss.
One of the big advantages weight training has for weight loss is its post-workout effect. After a weights workout, your body has to work hard to repair the damaged muscle tissue caused by lifting and in doing so, it increases your uptake of oxygen and your metabolism speed. This is known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC. Weight training has a significant effect on EPOC, with high-intensity weight training being superior to low-intensity weight training, according to Chantal Vella of Idea. You get a bigger after-burn effect lifting two sets of eight reps at 85 percent of your eight-repetition maximum than you do performing two sets of 15 reps at 45 percent of your eight-rep maximum.
If you've never lifted weights before or are coming back after a long lay off, you may initially gain some weight due to increased muscle mass as your body becomes accustomed to a new training stimulus. However, for anyone who isn't a complete beginner, building muscle requires a calorie surplus, which is the complete opposite of what you need to lose fat, so gaining weight should not be an issue. Combine your weight training with a mixture of low to moderate steady-state and high-intensity cardiovascular exercise for best results. Pick moves that work multiple muscles to burn more calories, such as squats, lunges and clean and presses, and work out in a circuit-fashion to further elevate your heart rate and calorie burn.