Cardiovascular exercise has long been thought the holy grail of weight loss. While committed gym goers achieved goals, the scale never measured overall body composition. Traditional cardio exercise not only burned fat, but it also burned precious muscle. Within the last decade, however, many have come to discover the critical importance of strength training beyond its aesthetic properties.
In the past, weightlifting was rarely thought of as a vehicle for weight loss. However, with proper planning and progression, weightlifting can be a very effective tool for melting fat. This is extremely beneficial in a culture that is ever-pressed for time.
Weightlifting or resistance training increases muscle size and improves muscle quality. However, its effect upon metabolism and the amount of calories burned at rest was rarely emphasized. A fast or efficient metabolism is significant because most calories burned throughout the day are burned away from the gym. Therefore, it is more sensible to improve the body’s ability to burn fat at rest.
An efficient metabolism also moderates the appetite. In order to properly manage weight, reduce fat and maintain muscle integrity, it is essential to provide the body with regular energy intake throughout the day. When you have a healthy amount of muscle, your body will remind you to put in healthy food throughout the day, it will use those nutrients properly.
Advanced weightlifting programs that utilize compound movements such as deadlifts, squats, pull-ups and the standing overhead press recruit the large muscle groups of the body and demand copious amounts of oxygen. These movements utilize the same energy system required for sprinting and can exhaust the body in just a few minutes, making it possible to achieve a significant workout in very little time. These movements also deplete glycogen stores within the muscle making it necessary for the body to replenish glycogen before it stores extra energy as fat. Compound movements increase growth hormone levels for hours after a good, weightlifting workout. Growth hormone is directly responsible for biological processes related to youth, appearance and the body’s ability to manage fat.
Weightlifting or resistance training may also be performed in a circuit fashion that allows very little down-time between movements. There are many ways to design a circuit training program. A well designed, progressive program significantly reduces the amount of time needed to sufficiently challenge the body, allowing you to see results more quickly.
While weightlifting and cardiovascular exercise address different exercise needs of the body, they are complementary, and when used properly can allow you to get better results in less time. The better the quality and volume of your muscle, the more calories you burn at rest, and the easier it is to lose excess body fat.
Resistance training must be done in a progressive manner. Beginners can train within the safety of their own body (using body weight) or weightlifting machines. The human body can be a very effective gym and provides an excellent platform to develop technique as it reduces the likelihood of injury. Machine weights can provide a safer environment for beginners because the machines limit movement to a small number of muscles. However, used in combination, free weights, machine weights and body weight can generate an endless variety of exercise programs designed to keep you motivated and get results.