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The importance of weight training in weight loss

importance-de-la-musculation-muscle

For decades, “cardio” was thought to be the best way to lose weight. After which, weight or strength training was praised as a way to increase metabolism and burn calories post-workout. However, today we know that a combination of both cardiovascular and muscle exercises is the best way to improve body composition.

Although a cardio session may generate a higher calorie burn, the fact of introducing weight training to one’s exercise routine will increase the chances of losing pounds and maintaining an ideal weight long term. Over and above weight loss, the benefits of weight training are many.

That being said, remember that exercise in it of itself, regardless of what type, will not lead to significant weight loss. Balanced nutrition must also be part of the equation.

Losing FAT, not MUSCLE

When weight loss is the goal, what we really want to lose is fat. However, when we lose weight, we don’t only lose fat, we lose water and muscle.

One of the functions of our muscular system is to help reduce and even prevent loss of muscle mass.

If you only depend on nutrition as a source of weight loss, your muscle mass will tend to decrease. And, if we lose our muscle mass, we are less efficient in our daily activities as well as in our cardio workouts. Burning calories therefore becomes more difficult and we feel more tired for the same amount of effort.

How muscles affect your metabolism

It is true that muscle is a relatively active tissue, this is to say that it consumes calories (energy) continuously, if only for the muscle tone needed for good posture. After a loss of muscle mass, our metabolism would be reduced, resulting in a diminished calorie burn at rest, making additional fat loss more difficult.

The decrease in metabolism, however, is normal with weight loss. By being lighter on our feet, we expend less energy when we move around and we have fewer cells to “feed”.  However, without exercise, your metabolism continues to decrease and the risk of putting the weight back on increases over time.

The muscle allows to burn more calories

Beyond its effect on metabolism, the presence of muscle on the body allows us to accomplish more in our daily activities, therefore allowing to burn more calories without feeling more tired. Weight or strength training also facilitates cardiovascular workouts, as stronger muscles help increase our ability to sustain the effort.

By including weight training in your routine, you will improve both strength and endurance. Having stronger muscles will help you move through your daily activities with greater ease and the impulse to exercise will become more natural. A workout after a day’s work, a walk after dinner, a bike ride on the weekend are just some of the activities that will become part of your routine and will contribute to maintaining your weight. Ultimately, we move more, we burn more, we’re in better shape, and we feel so much better!

Building muscle doesn’t mean building bulk

Fat is bulkier than muscle tissue and takes up more space under the skin. Thus, although they may weigh the same, a more muscular body will have a smaller circumference than a body with more fat. Hence the importance of aiming to improve body composition rather than fat loss alone. The long-term benefits will be far greater.

More reasons to lift weights?

When you include weight or strength training to your workouts at least 2 to 3 times a week, you will enjoy all the other benefits that comes with it: better bone density, reduced joint pain, better posture, better balance, reduced insulin resistance, regulation of blood pressure, reduced risk of depression, reduction in certain cancers, and much more.

In conclusion: the perfect recipe for weight loss?

Clearly, you could include strictly weight or strength training sessions to your exercise routine or you may choose combined sessions like circuit training or Bootcamp which are a great way to work both the cardio and muscular aspects and burn serious calories.

To sum up, if you want to lose weight, remember that nutrition is important, in addition to a well-planned workout program tailored to your fitness level which includes the proper balance of cardio and weight training exercises.

Don’t hesitate to ask for the help of a nutritionist AND a personal trainer to help guide you through your lifestyle changes. At Nautilus Plus, our professionals are trained to work together to generate the best results, all the while keeping your objective and success in mind.

References:

Author
Karine Larose, M.Sc.

Karine Larose is a kinesiologist, director of communications and Spokesperson for Nautilus Plus and specializes in fitness motivation. She authored The Guide to Healthier Living, also penned the book 10-4 The Healthy Way to Lose 10 Pounds in 4 Weeks, and recently released her third work called Zero Diet: Delicious and Healthy Recipes for Success, all by Les editions du TRÉCARRÉ. Karine has launched a series of exercise DVDs entitled 30 minutes par jour pour Vivre Plus. Many TV shows and radio stations regularly request Karine’s point of view on physical exercise issues and points of interest.


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