All too often people head to the gym’s cardio exercise equipment in order to lose weight. Studies have shown, however, that strength training is just as important a part of your training regimen in order to lose weight. In fact, some fitness professionals believe that proper strength training can result in burning as much fat as spending hours chugging away on the treadmill.
Cardio certainly does burn fat while you’re exercising, but strength training allows the body to continue burning fat long after you’ve finished exercising. This is called “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption” or EPOC. Studies have shown that your metabolism or EPOC can remain elevated for up to 38 hours after your workout! This means, that during that time, your body is continuing to burn calories. With cardio, once you stop moving you stop burning calories and fat.
The best way to achieve weight loss is to combine cardio with weight lifting or strength training, in addition to a low carb diet. This combination is called “cutting up” in the fitness industry. It is simple; the more muscle you have, the more fat you’re going to burn.
Strength training doesn’t mean you have to hit the free weights in the gym. You can work on it at home by using resistance bands or even your body’s own weight. Push-ups or squat exercises will help you gain muscle without any fancy equipment.
The fitness equipment at the gym, however, is going to give you the most well rounded workout. Exercises like the overhead press or the lat pulldown are great examples of exercises that can be done using the fitness equipment at the gym. The pec deck or fly machine offers another great workout, as does the abdominal machine.
Strength training is going to do more for your body than just losing weight. Having lean muscle will reduce your chances of getting osteoporosis or injury, and it can boost your stamina. Studies have also shown that strength training can also reduce depression and arthritis symptoms, and it can have a beneficial effect on diabetes.
Always check with your doctor before beginning any fitness program. The key to a successful strength training program is doing the exercises correctly. If you’re unsure, consult a personal trainer. A personal trainer can make sure that you’re doing each exercise properly to maximize your training benefits and to ensure that you don’t get injured while using the equipment or weights.
Barbara Strasser and Wolfgang Schobersberger, “Evidence for Resistance Training as a Treatment Therapy in Obesity,” Journal of Obesity, vol. 2011, Article ID 482564, 9 pages, 2011. doi:10.1155/2011/482564