Resistance training: essential for weight loss?
When we lose weight, we do not only lose fat, but also water and muscle. The role of resistance training is precisely to reduce or avoid this loss of muscle mass.
By losing weight, we run the risk of being less effective in training and daily life activities. Consequently, we become less and less fit, and burning calories becomes a hard task.
Furthermore, muscles consume energy, even at rest. Unlike fat, muscle is a relatively active tissue. It requires energy at all times; for example, to keep the tonus necessary to maintain our posture. After losing muscular mass, our metabolism is reduced. We therefore spend less calories at rest, which makes losing more fat harder. However, a reduction of the metabolism is normal when losing weight; being lighter, we need less energy to move, and we have less cells to “feed”. On the other hand, without exercise this diminution of the metabolism will be increased along with the risk of gaining weight over time1.
Through resistance training, we can maintain our metabolism at a good level, without having to go through long and exhausting training sessions. Indeed, studies have demonstrated that sessions of about 15 to 30 minutes are enough to stimulate the metabolism4,5. This is without counting the fact that this type of exercise, especially circuit training, burns a lot of calories. The article The 15-minute Workout is a good example of circuit training. In short, integrating muscular exercises to our program increases the chances of long-term weight loss or maintenance.
In addition, an optimal training program should improve our cardiovascular ability, muscular capacities, and flexibility, all at the same time. By including resistance training to our routine, we improve muscular strength and endurance. This way, daily activities become easier, and the need to exercise more comes naturally. In the end, we are in better shape, we move more, we spend more energy, and we lose the extra kilos more easily.
By Mathieu Rousseau
1. Schwartz A et Doucet E (2010). Relative changes in resting energy expenditure during weight loss: a systematic review. Obes Rev. 11(7):531-47.
2. Hunter GR et al. (2008). Resistance training conserves fat-free mass and resting energy expenditure following weight loss. Obesity (Silver Spring). 16(5):1045-51.
3. Ryan AS et al. (1995). Resistive training increases fat-free mass and maintains RMR despite weight loss in postmenopausal women. J Appl Physiol. 79(3):818-23.
4. Kirk EP et al. (2009). Minimal resistance training improves daily energy expenditure and fat oxidation. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 41(5):1122-9.
5. Heden T et al. (2011). One-set resistance training elevates energy expenditure for 72 h similar to three sets. Eur J Appl Physiol. 111(3):477-84.