If you’ve ever attempted to lose weight before, you’re probably familiar with the steps that need to be taken in order to do so. The two most common methods for losing weight are diet and exercise. More often than not, this exercise is cardiovascular in nature (walking, jogging, running, etc…) While cardiovascular exercise is an excellent way to shed excess pounds and inches, it’s not the only way. Many people don’t think of strength training for losing weight, but you may be surprised at just how effective it actually is.
In my experience as a personal trainer, many of my first time clients come to me with a weight loss goal. Often times, they’re under the impression that we are going to do mostly high-intensity, bodyweight moves. While high intensity exercise is an effective weight loss tool, I always incorporate strength training into my clients’ routines, as well.
Strength training utilizes resistance (bands, dumbbells, cables, etc…) to place your muscles under a certain amount of stress. In response to this stress, they will firm up, strengthen, and even grow. While weight lifting is mandatory for building muscle and increasing strength, there are a number of other significant benefits that can come from it as well.
Benefits of Strength Training
- Increased Metabolism – Greater muscle mass means more calories burned during exercise and even at rest!
- Healthy Bones – Placing consistent resistance on the body will strengthen more than just your muscles, it will force your bones to become stronger as well.
- Better Balance – Weight training can benefit every muscle in the body, including those responsible for stability. This can prevent injury in the future.
- Decreased Stress and Anxiety – Exercise, including strength training, releases endorphins in the body. These feel good chemicals improve mood and decrease feelings of stress, anxiety, and even depression.
- Better Sleep – Weight training will help you exert pent up energy and frustration, making it easier to fall asleep.
- More Energy – Along with better sleep, weight training will provide you with more energy by boosting your mood, increasing circulation, and improving brain function!
- Boosted Confidence – When you like the way that you look and feel, you gain more confidence! Plus, becoming stronger is incredibly empowering.
5 Fantastically Effective Strength Training Tips
1. Don’t Skip the Warm-Up
The warm-up itself will help burn a few extra calories, but there’s more to it than that. Warming up is an integral part of any workout routine. It will prime the neuromuscular system to perform better. When your body is properly prepared to handle the stress that weight training places on it, your chance of injury decreases significantly. Increased performance will lead to even better results. You can warm-up by walking, jogging, running, or performing body weight exercises like squats, lunges, and pushups.
2. Prioritize the ‘Big Lifts’ Over the Smaller Isolation Exercises
Big lifts like Squats, Deadlifts, Bench Press, Rows, Shoulder Press, and Pull-Ups have a greater effect on muscle growth (toning) and fat metabolism. Because these big lifts use multiple muscle groups, they will burn a significantly larger amount of calories when compared to isolation exercises (single muscle group). You’ll get a bigger bang for your buck by building muscle and burning fat, simultaneously. Isolation exercises are a great way to improve the big lifts.
3. Go Heavy and Rest Up
It’s okay to perform fewer reps when you’re lifting heavy. It’s recommended, actually. The amount of weight obviously differs from person to person. There’s no magic number. If it feels heavy for you, then it will work. Perform 3 sets of 10 or 5 sets of 5 with a longer rest period (2-3 minutes). It’s always important to focus on proper form over anything else. Lifting heavy weight will maintain and build lean, toned muscle. In comparison, cardio burns both fat and muscle, which can actually slow metabolism. A greater percentage of lean muscle mass will burn more calories through a higher metabolism.
4. Perform Active Rests if Lifting Lighter Weight
If for some reason you don’t have access to heavy weights, it’s okay to lift lighter. Keep in mind that you should still be performing the big lifts with your lighter weights. One thing that I make almost every one of my clients do is perform active rests in between sets of light strength training. Active rests will get your heart rate up, allowing you to burn more calories. For instance, in between squat sets, you will do 30-60 seconds of jumping jacks or high knees. It’s important to note that when lifting lighter weight, your rest periods should be shorter than if you were lifting heavy (no more than 60 seconds).
5. Stay Consistent
One of the biggest mistakes that people make is not sticking with the program long enough. It takes time to build muscle and lose weight. It will not happen overnight. Consistency is the key to success! Lifting weights multiple times per week will allow you to safely progress by upping your weight and amount of reps slowly over time. Remember, this should be a complete lifestyle change, not a temporary solution.
When you combine eating clean, performing consistent cardiovascular exercise, AND strength training, you will get some serious results. If you’re not lifting weights at least 3 times per week in your current routine, you need to reevaluate your program. It’s never too late to strengthen your bones and muscles, boost your confidence, and shed excess fat! We have countless workout plans for you to follow. Today is the day to make a change! Try one or all of these strength training routines to get started on your fitness journey:
- 21-Day Body Toning Workout Plan for Beginners
- Workout to get Toned & Firm Without Bulking Up
- 15-Minute Circuit Workout to Tone & Shape Your Whole Body