Weight lifting doesn't have to mean turning into a body builder. In fact adding weights to your exercise regime can not only improve your muscle tone and body shape, it could also help you to lose weight. Here's how and why.
Easy calorie burning
We're not suggesting the actual lifting of weights is easy, but what could be simpler than burning calories as you sit on the sofa? Strength training forces your muscles to repair and recover, and that requires energy. Researchers from the US Department of Sport and Movement Science found that resistance exercise such as weight training increased the metabolism for as much as two days afterwards, and that means you can just keep on burning those calories.
Blast body fat
Cardio exercise like running or cycling is clearly good for you, and it'll certainly help you to lose weight. But a study by the University of Alabama found that dieters who lifted weights not only lost the same amount of weight as those who did not, but they burned off more fat than their cardio counterparts. In fact a similar study by Penn State researchers found that those training with weights lost an impressive six pounds more of fat than aerobic-only slimmers, who lost both fat and muscle. It might not show on the scales, but it'll definitely show in the mirror.
You might imagine that a run would shift more calories than resistance training. The truth is that a simple eight-minute circuit of weights, using eight different moves, can burn anywhere between 159 and 231 calories - and that equates to running at 10 miles an hour for the same duration.
Gain muscle, burn more calories
According to Robert Wolfe, Chief of Metabolism and Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Texas, "every 10-kilogram difference in lean mass translates to a difference in energy expenditure of 100 calories per day, assuming a constant rate of protein turnover". What that means is that for every kilo of muscle you gain, you'll burn roughly 10 calories more per day, or five calories per pound. Okay, so it's not a huge amount, but every little helps, right?
We all know exercise releases those feel good hormones, but adding resistance training could really boost your mood. In a study at Harvard study, women who embarked on a 10-week strength training programme reported a greater improvement in the symptoms of clinical depression than those undergoing counselling. And since stress, anxiety and depression can often cause us to reach for the comfort food and the high-fat, sugar-loaded eats, it seems weight training could help you to slim down by lifting up your mood.
Has resistance training helped you to lose weight? What advice would you give to other dieters about getting started? Leave your comments below...