There are several very important reasons why strength training is good for weight loss – but most people have never heard of them.
For the longest time, the benefits of strength training seemed to pale in comparison to cardio for weight loss.
Now we know that was a HUGE mistake.
The former logic was that:
- Cardio elevates your heart rate and requires energy, thus burning calories and resulting in weight loss, AND
- Lifting weights just causes muscle gain (and, if anything, will make you look bulky)
But this just goes to show that strength training has looooong been misunderstood. And it’s time to get the facts straight.
There are lots of reasons why lifting weights is not only amazing for weight loss – it’s possibly even better than classic cardio!
While steady-state cardio shouldn’t be completely replaced by weight lifting in your workout plan, these reasons are compelling enough to earn weight lifting a spot in your exercise routine at least 2x per week.
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5 Compelling Reasons Why Strength Training is Good for Weight Loss
1. Lifting Weights Burns Calories Too
Classic cardio isn’t the only way to burn calories. In fact, you’re burning calories anytime you move your body.
Calories are a measure of energy, and “burning calories” is a measurement of the amount of energy you use to complete an activity. If someone burns 100 calories running for 10 minutes vs 50 calories walking for 10 minutes, it means the running required more energy from the body.
I think where people get hung up is thinking that classic cardio is the best way to burn calories.
Rather, any activity that requires you to push yourself physically is a great way to burn calories.
To quote Adam Campbell in his book The Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises, “The term cardio doesn’t just mean ‘aerobic exercise.’ After all, cardio is really short for cardiovascular training.” Aka, training your heart and lungs…which weight lifting certainly does.
Strength training is no joke!
Just complete one of the workouts in my 30 Day Weight Loss Kickstart program and you’ll know haha.
I often find that exercises such as push-ups, squats, and lunges get me even more out of breath than going for a run (classic aerobic exercise).
When many people think of strength training, they tend to imagine moves that hit only one muscle/a small group of muscles at a time, such as bicep curls and floor chest presses. In reality, there are a lot of full-body moves you can do that make strength training very demanding and effective. Instead of just a bicep curl, complete a squat followed immediately by a bicep curl. And instead of just a floor chest press, complete a hip raise followed by a floor press. By working multiple muscle groups at once, you increase the demand on your body and burn more calories.
RELATED POST: Insanely Effective Full-Body Exercises to Get Fit Fast
But the takeaway here is that strength training burns calories too, and certain types of movements can burn even more calories than classic cardio.
2. You’ll Lose More Fat Than Muscle
Yes, lifting weights does help build muscle. But when you’re in a caloric deficit (expending more calories than you’re taking in, which is needed to achieve weight loss) it’s actually difficult to increase muscle mass.
Rather, the big thing to know is that people who strength train tend to burn more fat than those who only do classic cardio.
Multiple studies prove this time and again.
A combo of aerobic exercise and strength training leads to most of your weight loss coming from fat loss. Whereas aerobic exercise alone means a lot of your weight loss will come from muscle too. Yes, the scale numbers will decrease – but your toning and muscle definition will as well.
To lose weight – with nearly all of it coming from fat loss alone – perform both classic cardio AND strength training regularly.
3. It Keeps Your Body Resilient
When you lift weights, you improve your overall fitness level. Just by doing the exercises, you increase flexibility, decrease your risk of injury, and keep your body resilient.
The more strength and stamina your muscles have, the better you will feel day-to-day. And the more likely you can stick to your workout routine.
A lot of people think the opposite – or even that weight lifting increases your risk of injury.
Well it certainly can if you aren’t using proper form and well-rounded workouts. It’s true that nearly anyone can slap together a workout with no rhyme or reason and throw it on the internet. So you definitely need to be careful who you’re getting your information and workouts from.
But weight lifting, when done correctly, is an amazing way to keep your body resilient so you can keep working out long-term (and hit those weight loss goals!).
4. More Muscle Means More Calorie Burn
You may have also heard that the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn every day.
But do you know why?
Here’s the rationale:
“Muscle is constantly being broken down, recreated, and synthesized. All these processes require energy. And the more muscle you have, the more energy it takes for this process,” says Noam Tamir, C.S.C.S. in a Women’s Health article.
So yes, good news for those with muscle! The more muscle you obtain or retain from strength training during weight loss, the better poised your body is to burn calories all day long.
5. Your Calorie Burn Stays Elevated Post-Exercise
Here’s another good incentive to get in a workout today.
Resistance training burns more calories after the workout ends than steady-state cardio. This effect is called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).
Think about it like this: EPOC is the amount of oxygen it takes post-exercise to restore your body to it’s resting state, or resting metabolism.
A high EPOC (amount of oxygen needed) means you completed an intense workout. This is why even compared to circuit training, heavy resistance training boosts EPOC the most.
The EPOC duration and amount of calories burned varies a lot based on the individual and the workout completed, but some studies suggest an approximate range of 60-100 extra calories over the next day.
While at first glance it may not seem like a ton, remember that those are extra calories are sort of like passive income; you do the work once and then the benefits follow without you having to lift another finger.
Definitely not a bad perk of strength training.
So now you know why strength training is good for weight loss, it’s time to incorporate it into your exercise routine. If you’re not sure how, my 30 Day Weight Loss Kickstart program is a great option.
The program has a full workout schedule with follow-along strength training workout videos.
As a NASM-Certified Weight Loss Specialist, I understand just how complex weight loss is. To achieve it, you need to master your nutrition, your mindset, and your workouts – both cardio AND strength training.
If you’re struggling with weight loss and ready to commit to a plan that puts health at the forefront, take a look at what the 30 day program involves. I’ve done all the planning for you – you just need to get started.