Why Strength Training Is Better Than Cardio For Fat Loss
Most people believe that doing cardio is the only physical way to lose fat and reshape their bodies. Cardio helps reshape you when combined with a diet, but with no change in diet it only serves to strengthen the body holistically rather than change its appearance. If your goal is to run a marathon, do it! But if you want to decrease your body fat levels, reshape your physique, and be the envy of everyone at the beach, you need to work on your muscle groups.
Benefits of Strength Training
Although only about 20% of women incorporate strength training into their workout routines two or more times per week, I am sure more would dive in if they realized the benefits. The basic facts behind building muscle is that fat cells take much more space pound per pound than muscle cells (nearly 20% higher volume), and muscle burns more calories throughout the day. This means that adding strength training to a cardio-focused exercise program can help you to reach your weight loss goals even more quickly.
1. Increased Metabolism
Strength training helps to build muscle leading to an increased metabolism and decreased inches. Your muscles quickly use up calories in order to keep themselves healthy and strong. This increased use of calories results in fewer calories remaining to turn into fat. So, the more muscle, the higher the use of calories.
Additionally, when we exercise our body looks within itself for fuel. When we engage in aerobic exercise, our bodies use energy from both fat and muscle resulting in muscle loss, which then leads to a decreased use of calories. Research has shown that the only way to reduce or avoid muscle loss during dieting and exercising and to keep the increase in your metabolism is to incorporate strength training.
Remember: Studies have proven that regular strength training can increase your metabolic rate by up to 15%.
2. Burn More Calories After Workout
Increased metabolism means burning more calories, but the key is to understanding why. When you build muscle, you aren’t simply burning calories; you are building a stronger body that will continue to burn additional calories even after you’ve finished your workout. The intense focus on certain muscle groups results in your muscles needing to repair themselves. Your muscles burn calories even after your workout is complete as they make those necessary repairs to make your body stronger. The additional calories aren’t needed only for repairs; muscles need more nutrients to keep them healthy and working optimally.
Remember: At rest, muscle burns more calories than fat – 50 calories per day for 1 kg of muscle vs 3 calories per day for 1 kg of fat.
3. Increased Muscle Mass
Strength training is for everyone, not just for those who want to pull cars, run a tough mudder, or compete. Strength training can simply mean that you want a toned body with tight biceps, glutes, abs, legs, or any other part of your body. Building muscle mass also doesn’t directly equal an increase in size, so your added muscle may actually make you look smaller while your body is burning more calories than before.
Remember: Focusing work on muscle groups will help you build mass and may also decrease your measurements in certain areas.
4. Improved Mood
Research has repeatedly proven that a minimum of three workouts per week improves overall mood, reduces anger, relieves anxiety, can reduce depression, and improves attention span. Much like focused meditation, strength training helps us to be mindful and able to truly understand how our body is supposed to feel and function.
When we exercise intensely, our body changes how it works. The feeling of elation after a good workout leads to finding ourselves smiling despite being sore. This is all a result of how your body releases “happy hormones” when we exert ourselves – epinephrine, serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins.
Epinephrine is the chemical that is needed to help our bodies react during stress or dangerous situations. It is a powerhouse that helps us make decisions quickly.
Serotonin helps with our overall sense of wellbeing and satisfaction. Anxiety and depression are typically the result of low levels of serotonin with can also lead to fatigue and irritability.
Dopamine helps to regulate body cycles for being awake and sleeping. Dopamine fluctuates with serotonin and higher levels of both of these brain chemicals keep our body functions regular.
Endorphins are our body’s own painkillers. They create that great sense of euphoria or the natural high we feel during and after our workouts or happy events.
Remember: As we exercise, we help our body not only physically, but also release happy hormones that will keep us feeling more positive.
Making time in your schedule to work on your body can help in countless ways. Improving your mood, making your clothing fit better, staying healthy, and having better focus are all direct results of exercise and staying fit. Increasing your fitness level can give you more confidence even if others don’t notice the changes you feel.
Talk with your personal trainer about your goals. Be honest with your feelings about your body and any changes you want to see – particularly those you want noticed. Your trainer can help you select strength exercises to pinpoint any of those problem areas that are bothering you. Working as a team, you can lose the fat that your current routine hasn’t touched. The extra bonus of building muscle and toning is that you can feel better about enjoying that frozen margarita while you are sunning on the beach.
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