Many people want to lose weight. And if we are being truthful most don’t care too much about what the number on the scale says, as long as their clothes fit well and they are seeing their overall body fat drop. But if you want to lose body fat is doing cardio the best thing to do or even enough? And will lifting weights help you lose weight faster?
Yes, and here’s why.
When you lift weights you are actually improving the overall muscle tone of your body. Not only will you feel stronger day to day, and build up a strong body that will make you resilient health wise, you also will also look more toned.
Muscle tissue is “denser” aka, takes up less space, so if you were to compare two 160lb identical females twins who both worked out….the one who lifted weights consistently would most likely be fitter overall AND look the leanest.
So if you have aesthetic goals, such as looking like you workout, or creating shape to your body weight training is going to be a great tool for you.
Now don’t get us wrong: 30 minutes of cardiovascular training—running, cycling, rowing, swimming etc.—will burn more calories than 30 minutes of weight training.
For example, an online calorie-burning calculator estimates that a 180-lb. person will burn 410 calories through 30 minutes of cycling at moderate intensity. The same calculator estimates that the same person would burn 246 calories through 30 minutes of vigorous weight training.
So although conditioning activities are definitely part of a fat-loss plan they should not be the only thing you do if weight loss is you goal.
Here are two reasons why lifting weights will yield more for your time, and why we think you need to do it minimum 3/week.
Weight Training Builds Muscle, and Muscle Makes Your More Energy Efficient
Muscle is an active tissue. That means that when you are at rest, it will still be working for you in the background. Similar to the body shape example above, if you were to compare these two ladies again, the more muscular 160-lb. woman will burn more calories at rest than the 160-lb. woman who has very little muscle. Fat doesn’t burn a lot of energy, but muscle does. So if you add a little muscle to your frame, you’ll increase your “resting metabolism.” That means you’ll burn more calories simply by being alive.
The number of extra calories burned over the course of a day isn’t extreme, but it’s still significant. Researcher Christopher Wharton estimated 10 lb. of muscle would use up 50 calories on a day without training, while 10 lb. of fat would use just 20. The numbers add up fast: If two people weigh the exact same but one has 30 lb. more muscle, that person will burn 90 calories more during the day than the person without the muscle.
So adding muscle means you’ll burn more calories without doing anything—which is a huge deal when it comes to losing fat.
Muscle Helps You Burn Calories After Weight Training—Not Just During
This is especially true if you work out with intensity like we do at Northern Touch CrossFit.
When you train your body hard, it burns calories as you move. But it continues to burn calories after you stop because your body is working to refuel and recover from training stress. You might hear someone use the term “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption” (EPOC). In simple terms, it means your metabolism is elevated as your body works to recover.
This recovery process burns calories and it can continue for up to 16 to 38 hours after training. Some studies suggest that period can be even longer. So a gym session is really an investment and you’ll reap additional rewards over the next day or so IF you train in a way that supports it.
Some styles of weight training generate greater effects after the workout than others and conditioning activities can also generate a post-exercise calorie burn. It all comes down to the exact activities and the intensity at which they’re performed. That’s where working with trained coaches comes in.
Benefits of Working With a Coach
Figuring out the perfect plan for fat loss can be challenging for the average person, but an experienced coach can help you out.
At our gym, we meet with clients to find out their goals and then prescribe the best plan to achieve them. If your goal is fat loss, you’ll probably receive a program that involves a mix of weight training and conditioning to ensure you move forward as fast as possible.
We’ll also tell you how often you need to train, how long workouts should be and what intensity level is right for you. Finally, we’ll monitor your results and adjust the plan regularly so you’re always getting closer to your goals.
But rest assured that the ultimate fat-loss plan will include some resistance training. It’s a key activity if you want to increase muscle tone and reduce your body-fat percentage.
So does lifting weights help you lose fat? Absolutely—and we can help you stay safe and do the exercises that will get you the best results possible.