When it comes to exercising for weight loss, people have always been told to run, swim, cycle or do some other cardio exercise — because they use up the most calories.
An army of trainers and exercise professionals, however, are now recommending weight training for shifting the pounds — for both men and women. Why?
Although the typical 45 minute cardio workout will probably use more calories than the average weights workout there are other factors that will affect your rate of fat loss — not least your metabolic rate.
After a weights workout, your body’s metabolic rate (the rate at which you burn energy) remains elevated for about 36 hours while it rebuilds muscle and makes other adaptations. After cardio it returns back to normal after just a few hours.
In the long term, both cardiovascular and weight training will increase your metabolic rate if they are performed at the correct intensity, and as long as you eat and rest right.
Weight training, however, stimulates more muscle growth — and muscle uses energy even when it’s resting. This is vital for helping protect you against long term weight gain.
Along with helping you to reduce body fat levels directly weight training can also change your body shape.
And just in case you are a woman and are thinking “But I don’t want to end up looking like a bodybuilder”, you have no need to worry. Packing on a large amount of muscle tissue requires a highly targeted exercise and nutrition plan — even for men.
Men also produce around 20 times as much of the muscle-building hormone testosterone as women, making it almost impossible for women to naturally get as “big” as men.
Adding a bit more muscle mass will improve your definition, again giving the impression of a slimmer physique (although this doesn’t apply in people with very high fat levels, in which case the overall effect is purely one of bulking up).
A significant difference in the effect of weight training and cardio is the hormonal changes they promote within your body.
In both men and women, weight training stimulates the secretion of extra testosterone and growth hormone, boosting recovery and fuelling further muscle growth.
Low testosterone in men is associated with high levels of body fat, diabetes, decreased libido and other health conditions. This issue is more pertinent after the age of 30, whereupon men’s testosterone drops by about 1% each year.
Follow these tips to maximise the weight loss results gained from your upper body weight training sessions:
Weights also have other proven health benefits: