This is the first of a two part blog focused on the benefits of resistance (weight) training. Part 1 will focus on the fat burning properties of resistance training, while part two will cover a range of topics around mobility and disease prevention.
A common misconception among those starting on the journey of a fit and healthy lifestyle is that you only lift weights if you want to be a bodybuilder. Inevitably that leads them straight to the treadmill for hours on end. While this isn’t the worst thing in the world and there is known benefit to the cardiovascular system (heart health, oxygen uptake, etc.) to prolonged, light to moderate exertion on a treadmill, bike or walking, it is not the most efficient use of your exercise time.
In simplistic terms, the formula for “losing weight,” or more accurately losing fat is calories in vs. calories out. Calories are the body’s fuel system and we need them to perform the most basic of bodily function such as: sitting at your computer, breathing, thinking… you get the point. Our bodies extract calories from the foods we eat and then allocate them to the various functions of the body that require them in precise numbers. This process is called metabolism (Oh right, that requires calories as well and it is going on all of the time). If my calories in (what I ate) are more than my calories out (what I burn), then my body is trained to store those extra calories as fat to use at a later time.
You may be thinking, “I eat the exact same as I did 10 years ago and I keep gaining fat, what gives?” Well, as we age our body’s metabolism begins to slow down. This has a couple of effects on our bodies. First, our body is less efficient with the breaking down of food and the extraction of calories and nutrients. The result is unused calories being stored as fats. Secondly, the slowing metabolism is using fewer calories at rest, consistently throughout the day and once again our body stores these unused calories as fat.
So what are we to do if, as we age and our metabolism slows and we are storing more and more fat for doing exactly the same thing we did 10 years ago?
It’s time to kick-start your metabolism!
Since we know that muscle tissue requires more calories at rest than fat (check out one of many studies), a simple solution is to increase the amount of muscle mass on our bodies. Now a funny thing can happen when you take this route, with exercise and a balanced diet you will, more than likely, gain weight initially. That’s right I said gain weight. This is because, as you may have heard, muscle tissue weighs more than fat tissue, which is a large reason why I am not fond of using the scale to measure a client’s progress and success, or the body mass index to measure obesity.
When we increase muscle mass, our bodies are burning more calories at rest than previously. Now with the calorie output increased and a maintained calorie input through balanced diet, the body then finds another source to take the calories needed to fuel these newly developed muscle tissues: that source, the stored fats that have been hitching a free ride.
So if you want to “lose weight,” get out and pick one up (under the supervision of a certified personal trainer).
Check back next week for part two on improving mobility and preventing disease.
About the Author
Justin Vince is the founder of Prototype Sports Performance in Mississauga, ON. In addition to being a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Justin is also a member of the Ontario College of Teachers. Justin is passionate learner and coach, who also enjoys picking up heavy things.