How Strength Training Helps Weight Loss

A lot of people think of aerobic exercises for weight loss-- burning off those calories by racking up hours on the treadmill, aerobicizing, or riding the stationary bike. While it is true that these heart-healthy, fat-burning, oxygen-pumping exercises are great for weight loss, you shouldn't overlook the other type of exercise: anaerobic. Strength training can only give a boost to your weight loss efforts.

What is Anaerobic Exercise?

Anaerobic exercise is usually shorter but much more intense. It’s not as direct a way to burn fat as it is a way to build muscle. When you practice anaerobic exercises like strength training, you are building up lean muscle mass. In the long run, this actually helps you burn fat and lose weight more efficiently. The more lean muscle mass you have, the more calories your body will burn.

In addition, when you practice strength training, it helps to tighten and tone your muscles. As you are losing weight, this effort is instrumental in re-shaping your body, making you look leaner and trimmer than if you just practiced aerobic exercises.

Another benefit of strength training is that it will serve to increase your strength and stamina so you’ll be able to sustain aerobic-type activities for a longer period of time. Overall, this will give you much more energy.

The Best of Both Worlds

You don’t actually have to choose between aerobic and anaerobic exercises—they work best when practiced together. While you can practice aerobic exercises daily (sustained exertion, such as walking, jogging, dancing, bike riding, skating, jumping rope, aggressive house cleaning, etc.) you can add strength training to your regime every other day or so. Strength training need not take up much additional time, because they are shorter, more intense forms of exercise. An additional 20 minutes three times per week or so is all you really need to get into the habit and benefit from these exercises.

Strength Training Exercises

There are different ways to get your strength training in. If you belong to a gym, your gym no doubt has nautilus equipment or free weights for you to use. Add a couple of repetitions to tone all your major muscle groups in your arms, legs, back, chest, stomach, and buttocks.

If you don’t belong to a gym, you might consider getting free weights for lifting at home. You can also add exercises to your routine that don’t require equipment at all, like short-distance sprinting, pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, and squats. Any exercise that builds muscle is going to benefit your weight-loss and maintenance efforts while making you look and feel your best.

Photo: Pexels

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