When you think of the most effective ways for you to burn fat, what comes to mind? Running, or aerobics, or maybe a fast-paced basketball game? Heck, according your fitness tracker, calories fall away like leaves off your cottonwood when you do hard cardiovascular exercise. And the harder and longer you work, the more you lose. Yes, cardio is key when it comes to burning calories and building endurance.
However, it doesn’t have to end there. Have you ever wondered why your trainer is so insistent on you spending so much time on weights, when all you really feel like doing is burning calories, calories, and more calories? The truth is that weight training is key for the most successful exercise program, especially if your goal is weight loss or strength building.
It matters in the short term. For one, a weight lifting session yields a higher rate of calorie burn post-workout. This means that as you go about the rest of your day, and in some cases up to over 30 hours after your trainer session with weights, your metabolism is revved higher than it would be after doing a standard cardio workout.
It matters in the long term. As you use weights on a regular basis, your body’s percentage of lean muscle mass will increase. And as this percentage goes up, your long-term resting metabolic rate will go up, too. This is because muscle burns fat at a higher rate than fat does. Plus, muscle tissue is maintained fairly easily, as long as it gets stimulated on a regular basis. Bottom line: the more you lift weights, the more muscle you’ll build, and the more fat you’ll burn on a continuous basis.
It matters for your body shape. You’ve seen it before: someone works hard with diet and cardio, loses a gazillion pounds, and their transformation is awesome. However, while they’re smaller and healthier, you can tell that their muscle tone is a little soft or saggy. Utilizing weight training to build muscle will help your body’s natural, healthy shape to shine through with more definition.
Your gender matters. Women are often wary of using weights heavier than 10 pounds or so, afraid that they’ll bulk up to an undesirable state. While it is possible (and often attractive) for women to gain a considerable amount of muscle mass, their naturally lower levels of testosterone will generally prevent truly massive muscles from developing.
Your trainer has good reason for insisting that you hit the weights in addition to the treadmill (and no, contrary to what you may think, it’s not just to see you suffer). Adding regular sessions of weight training is like adding a turbo-boost to your regular cardio routine. And while you may not notice a difference in the appearance of your muscles right away, your body can start benefiting from weight lifting the very first time you do it.