If you’re a cardio enthusiast who is convinced that the only way to burn real calories and lose fat is by running, walking, swimming or cycling, read on.
Strength training and weight lifting are just as necessary for achieving a lean, supple body as any cardio routine, and the benefits echo far beyond the hour you lift weights. Plus, you see such immediate results it keeps you working out.
The Best Reasons to Add Strength Training to Your Fitness Regime
1) More Bang for Your Buck
Everybody that works out wants a payoff. And while cardio can keep you trying to lose the same 20 pounds for a long time, weight lifting produces fast results that keep people working out longer, harder, and more often. When you can see visible results after just one week of effort, and feel new tone on your body, you want to create an even more fit body. Combining strength training with cardio produces even more benefits for health including weight loss, lean muscle building, and improved cardiovascular fitness.
2) Strength training makes you burn calories long after you exercise
One of the top benefits of strength training is that you keep burning calories long after you exercise, in fact, much more calories than you burn at rest than with cardio. In fact, after strength training, you can burn calories up to 36 hours after a workout. Plus, the lean muscle mass you build will burn calories on its own, because muscle burns calories as opposed to fat. So if you want to burn major calories while watching TV after a workout, strength training is the way to go.
In fact, if you’ve been seeing heavy-looking kettlebells everywhere lately, that’s because research shows that lifting heavier weights actually increases calorie burn for hours after you lift. Studies are showing that lifting higher weights and doing lower reps doubles your calorie burn.
However, if you’re going to attempt lifting heavier weights than usual, you may want to fortify your system with a pre-workout energy drink full of electrolytes and nutrients. And always use a spotter when attempting to lift really heavy weights.
3) Increased Self-Confidence in Everything You Do
Not only does strength training help you burn fat and calories, there is the added benefit of how it makes you look as well. Nothing beats looking in the mirror and seeing a more attractive, fitter you every single day for boosting self-confidence and motivation to really throw yourself into your new fitness program. As Tom Nikkola, CSCS, CISSN, says about strength training, “building muscle often builds self-esteem” that leads to more confidence in your personal life, career, and everything you do.
4) Strength Training Helps You Lose Weight and Keep It Off
Strength training is more effective for long-term weight loss than merely dieting or dieting plus cardio. Why? Because you’re building muscle not just losing fat, and muscle burns fat all by itself. In fact, one pound of muscle alone can burn up to 30 calories a day at rest.
So, if you weigh 200 pounds and have around 60 pounds of lean muscle mass, you’re burning an extra 1,800 a day! Plus, because you’re building muscle, the weight will stay off.
Why? With dieting, what you do is shrink a fat cell. You cannot make fat cells disappear, really. You can merely shrink them. Dieting leaves you with unhealthy fat tissue still on your body because you haven’t developed any muscle. When you turn that fat tissue into muscle, it will not regain fat, if you keep strength training.
5) Strength Training Gives You Improved Brain Function
One benefit of strength training that not many people know about is how lifting weights and strength training benefit the mind. In fact, strength training helps increase long-term memory by as much as 10%. And that’s just 20 minutes of weight training.
Exercise, in general, helps the brain to release proteins that help stimulate brain stem cells and muscle satellite cells to create new neuron paths and muscle cells in the brain, boosting brain activity and enhancing brain strength.
And new studies are showing that even light resistance training helps prevent degenerative brain function as we age. So strength training helps us keep not just the body tight but the mind like a steel trap as well.
6) You Lose More Belly Fat than with Regular Exercise
Although core exercises and cardio can help you lose weight and slowly trim belly fat, lifting weights strengthens the entire body overall, producing fast results for abdominal fat loss. In fact, studies show that engaging in resistance training for at least 20 minutes a day can help prevent putting on weight around the middle and can accelerate fat loss when combined with cardio. And of all exercises that burn belly fat the fastest, high-intensity strength training produces the fastest results.
As you can see, strength training can provide tangible benefits to the body, the mind, and to your health. Combing cardio with weight training has proven to be the most effective of all forms of exercise in achieving maximum benefits from your exercise program.
Although yes, you want to build strong muscles, strong bones, lose weight, turn fat into muscle, and keep your metabolism revving with strength training, combining it with heart and respiratory-benefitting cardio is the best way to go for overall health and maximum weight loss payoffs.
Author Bio: Gerry Morton is the CEO of EnergyFirst, holds an MS in Nutrition and is an experienced athlete who has competed in 30+ marathons and 4 Ironman triathlons. Gerry is an excellent source of information on nutrition, supplementation, and exercise. http://www.energyfirst.com is known for offering the world’s best tasting, highest quality, all-natural, premium nutrition products such as pure whey protein isolate powder, energy bar, green drinks etc. Read his blog at http://blog.energyfirst.com Follow on Facebook & Twitter @EnergyFirst