There is a widely believed misconception that cardiovascular exercises are the best way to reduce body fat. Running miles and miles, sweating buckets and quivering knees are all signs the scale will move in the direction we want it to, or so we have been led to believe.

Strength training is often overlooked as a vital component of an effective and sustainable weight loss plan. It is important to note that both forms of exercise are important for different reasons.

  • Cardio sessions typically do burn more calories per session which is why it has been promoted heavily for individuals seeking a change in weight. Cardiovascular exercises target your vascular system and can be thought of as a workout for the heart and lungs.
  • Strength training, however, plays a part in long-term weight management. As you build muscle and strength train, your resting metabolic rate (RMR), which is how many calories your body requires to function at rest increases. Simply put; your body will burn more calories while at rest due to the increase in lean muscle tissue.

The Science Behind It

There is growing evidence from the Health Science community, such as findings from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine study, that suggests resistance exercises can regulate fat cells even at a molecular level. Weight training may also shrink fat and change the inner workings of fat cells according to a recent study in the FASEB (Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology) Journal. Little bubbles of genetic material are released that can flow to fat cells which ignite the fat burning process. In addition, strength training provides other excellent health benefits to our bodies including improving bone mineral density, lean mass, and muscle quality.

How it Works the Body

Strength training exercises ideally will engage the largest muscle groups and should involve two or more joints at a time and are often performed standing. As the body works harder, the amount of muscle and RMR will increase. An effective program will be intense enough that you feel challenged during the workout. It should also combine intensity, volume (the number of sets and exercises), and the progression of both as you gain muscle. Taking time to recover from strength training sessions is important as well, as this is when progress is truly made, during rest.

We are often misled by the number on the scale, however, it is important to remember that this number includes everything in our bodies, not just body fat. Using more accurate body measurements to determine things like body fat will provide a better understanding of your body’s composition and how to structure our workout programs.

As we strength train, we increase the size of our muscles which in turn can result in a number on the scale we just don’t understand, therefore it is important not to be guided only by that number. How you feel, how your clothing fits, your energy levels, in addition to an accurate body fat percentage, are all great indicators that progress is being made.

The short answer to a very complex question is yes! Strength training or resistance training using your body weight should be considered a fundamental part of working out. Its benefits, along with weight loss, are invaluable to the longevity of our bodies and the way we age. The interconnection between aerobic and resistance exercises is being understood in new ways that prove the two do not have to be mutually exclusive when we hit the gym.

Breaking your week up between the two or even incorporating something such as a HIIT workout (High-Intensity Interval training, which combines resistance and cardio) will provide you with lasting results. In addition, living an active lifestyle combined with a nutrient-rich diet are crucial to any results you may hope to achieve.

Consider a Personal Trainer

If you find yourself feeling stuck or bored with your workout routine consider hiring a personal trainer to help evaluate your fitness goals and create a plan to reach them. At Body and Way of Life of Fitness, our trainers have the experience of working with women, men, and children to help them attain the body goals they desire. It takes work and desire, and if you’re ready to move forward we invite you to try one session out today.