Lift weights to shed pounds
We usually think of lifting weights as adding bulk and building up muscle, but even if 20-inch biceps aren't your goal, lifting weights could help you to tone up, lose weight and be fitter and healthier. In fact, strength training could make it even easier for you to shift that stubborn belly fat!
Lose up to 40% more fat
Research carried out at Penn State University revealed that dieters lifting heavy weights shed more fat than those carrying out aerobic exercise. The group doing an aerobic workout lost fat and muscle, whilst the lifting group lost mostly fat - up to 6lbs more fat than the others! Whilst muscle loss can make you lighter, it isn't going to improve how your body looks. Lifting weights can burn more fat whilst protecting that hard-earned muscle.
Burn more calories
Lifting just gives you a better burn, there's no two ways about it. An eight-move circuit (about 8 minutes) could burn between 159 and 231 calories. Lifting helps you to burn more calories because your muscles need energy to repair themselves after a strength workout, and weight training can help to speed up your metabolism even after the workout is finished.
Aerobic v anaerobic
Aerobic activity helps your body to burn fat DURING exercise, whilst anaerobic activity helps you burn fat AFTER exercise, whilst your body recovers. When you compare how much fat each type of activity burns, you'll find many health and fitness professionals recommend aerobic exercise. However most people simply look at how much fat is burned whilst exercising. When you look at the total fat burned both during and after exercise, you'll find that anaerobic activity comes out way ahead in the fat burning stakes!
After strength training, excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) can help elevate your metabolism and ensure you're burning more calories. With each successive set, you're incrementally burning more fat, so you'll see a great end result. A study in 2003 found that lifting heavy weights can create an EPOC effect which lasts for longer - alternating weight training days with cardio days can help you to burn twice as much fast compared to cardio alone (1).
Healthier and happier
Lifting isn't just about losing weight - it can also help with the following:
- Improve endurance, agility and strength
- Reduce risk of heart disease
- Lower your blood sugar and cholesterol
- Increase bone density and strength
Yet you won't benefit from any of these things if you don't follow a few simple lifting rules. What are they? Time to find out.
Rules for lifting to lose weight
Maintain proper intensity
To increase fat loss, you'll need to ensure you're applying the right degree of intensity to every set. You should always be working until you reach some level of muscle fatigue. This means you'll be feeling slight pain or discomfort in the muscle group you're targeting.
Ensure perfect form
Make sure you're lifting properly and take advice from your personal trainer or somebody experienced at your gym - or use a workout video. Ensure you move slowly through your full range of motion and warm-up properly to avoid injury.
Control your weight, reps and sets
Wondering how much weight you should lift? Again, some advice from your personal trainer can be really helpful here, but you should always be training until you reach some level of muscle fatigue, particularly if weight loss is your goal. So choose a weight that lets you hit fatigue after a pre-determined number of reps. Your total workout shouldn't be more than 10 to 15 sets.
Make sure to take adequate rest
You'll fall at the first hurdle if you don't get adequate rest. Always begin with a warmup and then rest in between sets. Shorter rests help you to tone up, burn fat and build endurance, but if you're lifting heavy weight, you'll need to factor in a longer rest between sets.
Should you start lifting?
Many women avoid lifting, worrying they'll 'bulk up', but there's really no need to stress over this. Lifting is a great way to tone up whilst building your strength and endurance, increasing your flexibility and burning calories at the same time. Introduced as part of your workout regime - maybe try adding it your regular cardio or running sessions - lifting should have a place in everyone's fitness routine. If you need further guidance or advice on proper lifting form, how much weight to lift or how best to train to get your desired results, we recommend searching our directory for a personal trainer in your area. Working with a personal trainer ensures you'll stay motivated and on track to reach your fitness goals, and with proper instruction, you're less likely to develop bad habits and poor form that could lead to injury!
READ THIS NEXT: 10 Reasons women should start lifting weights today