By Tom Hutchison
We all know that doing regular cardio will result in weight loss and that within this weight loss there will be some level of fat loss. The problem is that it is not only fat mass that is lost, but also muscle mass. It is then that we realise that the term ‘weight loss’ is too vague; it is fat that we want to lose, while at the same time trying to avoid muscle loss. Losing too much muscle mass will in the long-run will be detrimental to your fat burning efforts and leave you looking unhealthy and malnourished. You can counteract this by taking part in some form of resistance training, i.e. training with weights, your own bodyweight, or resistance bands. This will help you build and tone up your muscles while getting rid of your unwanted body fat, giving you a lean and healthy looking figure.
The Importance of Resistance Training
While cardio clearly has its benefits, it should by no means be your only or main form of exercise. If you have not already done so, incorporating resistance training into your weekly routine is something you should be doing as soon as possible. Resistance training has many benefits, including the number of calories you will burn in the hours after the session. Although it is true that a session of cardio will probably burn more calories than most other forms of exercise, many studies have found that doing some form of resistance training will burn far more calories in the period that follows the exercise. This may well be because the body uses a lot of energy to repair the muscles that were damaged during the strength exercises.
Resistance training is also a great way to improve flexibility and bone density. Studies have found that the risk of osteoporosis is lower in those who have done some sort of regular strength training. As already mentioned, doing endless sessions of cardio may well result in weight loss, but it won’t just be fat that you will be losing; you will also lose muscle mass over time. Muscle is very important when it comes to burning fat and getting a healthy looking body. So the maintaining and building of muscle is key when it comes to fat loss, and it is well known that resistance training is a great way to do this. It is this ability that is arguably the most important reason for making resistance training a mainstay of your weekly exercise routine.
The Importance of Muscle
A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggested that an increase in muscle could lead to a decrease in fat mass. This may well be because of the fact that having more muscle mass will result in a higher metabolic rate. This is because the body’s muscle mass is a large consumer of energy, and the more of it you have, the more energy it will use, so the greater your fat loss will be. Studies show that at rest a pound of muscle burns around 6 calories, whereas a pound of fat burns about 2 calories. The fact that muscle burns more calories than fat means that gaining more muscle can only be a good thing. However, there is another, and possibly more important fat loss benefit to be gained from building more muscle.
Studies have found that an increase in muscle mass can lead to an increase in insulin sensitivity. This is important because the more insulin sensitive you are, the better your body deals with glucose, which in turn means less dietary glucose will become body fat. This can help to explain why various studies have found that muscle plays an important role in the prevention of diabetes. So not only can muscle help you burn fat, it can also help to prevent your body from gaining fat, and can help prevent disease. So the benefits of resistance training and building muscle are now hopefully clear for you to see.
However, it must be said that if you are really not comfortable with doing resistance training, and would rather stick to cardio training, then that is fine; it is clearly better than doing nothing. But if you can squeeze at least one or two resistance sessions into your weekly routine then you may well surprise yourself, and the results that you see may encourage you to do more. After all, having more muscle can not only help to prevent disease, it can help to budge some of that stubborn fat and send you on your way to a lean, toned and healthy looking body.