Cardiovascular exercise on machines such as treadmills and bikes burns more calories than lifting weights, so is it just a waste of gym time to add strength training to your workout?
The simple answer is no. Working your muscles as well as your heart and lungs can improve your health and help you drop inches faster.
While cardiovascular exercise is a great way of burning the fat, adding a little strength training to your workouts will burn extra calories every day. You’ll even be continue to burn calories while you’re sleeping or sitting on the couch watching TV.
Aerobic exercise may burn a few hundred extra calories for dinner, but for every additional pound of muscle you gain, your body burns around 50 extra calories every day of the week.
Research has shown that regular resistance training can increase your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) by up to 15%.
Do not be disheartened if initially you seem to be staying at the same weight or gaining slightly.
Muscle is less dense than fat, so whilst your weight might not be dropping very quickly, your clothes are feeling baggier and you are seeing a healthier, slimmer and better toned you in the mirror. That’s far more important than anything those nasty scales have to say.
Weight training is just as suitable for women as it is for men. Many women are wary of taking it up for fear that increased muscle means increased masculinity, this is not the case.
Testosterone is a very important factor in the development of muscle shape, so as women have very low levels of this hormone their muscles develop differently, meaning a little resistance training will not lead to a bulky, butch physique.
Building a little extra muscle can actually reduce the risk of injury.
Strong muscles, tendons and ligaments are much more capable of withstanding stress, and the improved flexibility gained by strength training also reduces the likelihood of pulled muscles and back pain.
Weight training is an excellent way of combating several symptoms we all face as we get a little older.
Resistance exercise can reduce bone deterioration and build bone mass, preventing osteoporosis.
Working your muscles can also inhibit the affects of sarcopenia, the age related loss of muscle mass, strength and function. After the age of thirty there is a loss of 3-5% of muscle mass per decade, making day to day tasks gradually harder to perform and slowing down metabolism – increasing the risk of weight gain.
Recent research has shown that weight (or resistance) training can greatly reduce a number of health risks.
It has been proven to have a positive affect on insulin resistance, resting metabolism, blood pressure, body fat and gastrointestinal transit time, factors that are linked to illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Research shows that just two 15-20 minute sessions a week is enough to gain all the potential health benefits of strength training.
I’m not talking about lifting 100 kilos above your head or chest pressing the weight of a bus. Start slowly and work your way up.
in your next session, use exercises that work all the muscle groups and do 8-12 repetitions. Be sure to use a suitable weight so that the last rep really feels like hard work. Don’t overdo it and make sure that you leave a day or two to recover in between sessions. Muscles grow while resting, so pushing yourself as hard as you can seven days a week won’t do you any favours.