Imagine that your body is a motor vehicle. Your muscles: use energy to produce movement (like an engine); absorb impact forces that otherwise could destroy your bones, connective tissue and joint structures (like shock absorbers); and provide the framework that enables you to function physically (like the chassis). Just as mechanics know that proper maintenance keeps your car in good shape, researchers are finding that weight training plays a vital role in keeping your muscles well-tuned.
Weight training also plays a crucial part in your weight loss efforts and more importantly helping you to maintain your weight loss results. One of the biggest mistakes people make when starting a weight loss or body transformation program is not including weight training with their cardio-vascular exercise and eating regimen. This is unfortunate, because when you cut calories without weight training for an extended period, you can lose muscle as well as fat. And when you lose muscle, your body becomes a lot less efficient at burning fat. However, when you gain muscle, your body will burn more fat, 24 hours a day!
The benefits of weight training for weight loss include…
Weight Training Increases Your Metabolism
Your resting metabolic rate represents the amount of energy you need on a daily basis to sustain the function of your body. Even at rest, muscle is very active tissue. Consequently, muscle loss results in a reduction in your metabolic rate. Because less muscle means lower energy requirements, calories that were previously used for muscle maintenance are now stored as fat. Sensible weight training is the best means of avoiding decreases in muscle mass and metabolic rate, and guarding against the obesity creep, i.e. weight training will maintain or increase your metabolic rate, which in turn helps you to maintain or decrease your body fat levels.
Weight Training Improves Glucose Metabolism
Researchers have reported a 23% increase in glucose uptake after four months of weight training. Because poor glucose metabolism is associated with increasing body fat and adult onset diabetes, improved glucose metabolism is an important benefit of regular weight training.
Weight Training Helps Neutralise Age-related Muscle Loss
Most adults that do not do weight training lose between 2.3 and 3.2 kg of muscle per decade. This equates to a decrease of 2-5% in metabolic rate every decade. At rest, 1 kg of muscle requires 13 calories per day for tissue maintenance, and during exercise, muscle energy utilisation increases dramatically. An InBody Scan (or other similar test) will help you monitor changes in your lean muscle mass.
Weight Training Improves Daily Function
Increased functional strength from weight training does wonders to help you with activities of daily living such as house work, working in the yard, moving furniture, and carrying bags of groceries, without gasping for air and tiring within minutes. If you have a medical condition such as arthritis or multiple sclerosis, lifting weights can also be a great help. The greater efficiency in performing general activities due to increased strength can also lead to an increase in the use of body fat as energy thereby helping with fat loss.
Weight Training Improves Posture
When your body is stronger (including your core), you are better able to hold yourself with good posture, your back aches less, there is less stress in your neck and your legs feel strong. You simply function better! Most people who increase their strength, also report an increase in self-confidence.
How Much Is Enough?
Although a personal trainer can help determine the best program for you, as a general rule benefits can be achieved from training 2 – 3 non-consecutive days per week for a minimum of one set per exercise for each major muscle group. You should use enough resistance to fatigue the muscle group by the end of each set.
Training your muscles does take some effort, but no matter what age you are, you’ll find that strength training will fuel a healthy lifestyle and help you function better in all aspects of your life.