Now, more than ever, researchers and trainers are studying effective methods to combat obesity. In the past decade, obesity rates have skyrocketed through the roof due to inactivity, overeating, or not enough exercise being performed. In the past, individuals have turned to low intensity cardiovascular exercise for caloric expenditure purposes, thinking that doing it is the best method for weight loss. However, there are far more superior methods for weight loss than low intensity cardio. Resistance training not only builds muscle and boosts your metabolism, but it also contributes to burning calories. It is a form of high intensity intermittent exercise which is known for favoring fat burning during recovery periods. High intensity exercise burns more total calories per minute, which means more carbohydrate and fat calories are being utilized for energy. Moreover, intensity is related to decreased rates of obesity and lower waist-to-hip ratios. Resting energy expenditure has been reported to be elevated for 24-48 hours after a high intensity workout with a caloric expenditure of 100-200 kilocalories. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests that individuals can burn up to 200 calories during 30 minutes of resistance training.
One of the reasons weight training is so effective at burning calories is because it creates a great metabolic disturbance which includes muscle breakdown, an increase in core temperature and hormone levels, and carb depletion. The greater the disturbance, the more your body has to recover from. In the recovery periods during and after the exercise bout, the body must store as much carbs and energy as quickly as possible, so it has to use fat for energy to fuel the recovery process. The best methods to create this disturbance are workouts that are designed to build strength and muscle mass. One of the best protocols to use for this is as follows:
- 6-12 repetitions
- Challenging weight (as much weight as you can handle)
- 3-5 circuits
- 30-60 second rest periods
- Compound exercises (i.e., squats, bench press, rows, deadlift)
- Circuit training, superset, or tri-set format
- Mix in body weight cardio exercises
A second benefit of resistance training is that it changes your body’s shape. In one study, twenty-four women performed a twenty-week resistance training program for the lower extremities. They worked out 2 days per week performing 3 sets of different lower body exercises, using a 6-8 RM to failure. At the end of the trial, the women experienced an increase in isometric strength, a decrease in body fat, and an increase in lean mass without any overall change in thigh girth. This shows that women can lift heavy, lose fat calories, gain muscle, and don’t have to worry about “bulking up”. In another report, researchers examined 2 groups of women over a 6-year period. They were assigned multi-joint exercises at different intensities. The women that lifted 70-80% of their maximum for 8 repetitions had greater weight and body fat loss. Resistance training is needed to transform your body. Using light weight and lots of reps will not give you the body that you want, nor will it do much as far as boosting resting metabolism. If you want a lean and muscular body, then you must lift heavy. Supplying your muscles with an appropriate overload enables the muscles to grow and become more compact. This gives you the lean physique that you desire.
Another reason weight training is effective is due to the cardiovascular effect that can be added when short rest periods are utilized. Using short rest periods maximizes testosterone, growth hormone, and catecholamine release which aids in muscle building as well as torching calories. These events help in boosting metabolism so that you are burning calories well after the workout is over. Using short rest periods also helps to increase lactic acid levels, which leads to a concomitant increase in growth hormone levels. Lactic acid is also used during recovery so that the body can use fat to fuel the recovery process. The more lactic acid you build up, the more fat calories your body can use during recovery.
It is necessary that you lift heavier weight to prevent muscle wasting while in a caloric-deficit state. High reps can create too much volume which can cause an increase in protein oxidation, a decrease in cell volume as well as a decrease in leptin production, which leads to muscle loss. Muscle loss causes the body’s metabolism to slow down and catabolic hormones to drastically increase, which leads to more muscle tissue breakdown. So in order to maintain muscle and decrease volume, you must lift heavy.
It is so important to have an effective resistance training program as part of a weight management program. When used properly, it can build muscle to increase resting metabolism as well as burning calories during and after the workout. Resistance training is needed to change your body’s image by making you appear leaner and tighter. It also helps to maintain muscle mass during periods when your body is in a deficit. So, if you want to lose weight and keep it off, add resistance training to your bag of tools. You’ll be much happier and successful in the long run.