Monday, September 20, 2010

The Importance of Strength Training

To all you cardio addicts out there...lets take a look at strength training...All too often I hear comments in the "judgement free zone" that are hard to ignore regarding cardio, most recently overheard someone telling her training partner that she "forced" herself to do an hour and a half of cardio on her off question... why? If you are pushing hard enough for the benefit of the workout how can you continue at that pace for more than an hour? If you have the time to do that on your "off" day why don't you reassess your program and add in some more strength training to sculpt the muscle you are trying so hard to reveal by burning calories?  On another occasion a client shared that she was told by "her trainer" to only do cardio if she had limited time (her limited time was 2 hours/day 2-3 times per week!), certainly can think of a few beneficial activities to fill that time with instead of another hour of spinning. Her frustration..after a month she saw no results! No scale weight or visible change, at least if she added some weight training she would see some change in shape if the scale weight didn't drop.  (Of course, I think diet probably was partially to blame as well.)
Too often people looking to lose weight and slim down immediately look to lots of cardio to get more caloric burn. Is it because the cardio machines flash numbers at us telling us how many as we race to burn calories? Truth is we may burn more at the time but cardio certainly doesn't effect our resting metabolic rate (RMR) like strength training can. Or consider doing weight training circuits for some benefits from both.  True, cardio may burn more calories during the workout but strength training builds more metabolically active tissue to increase your calorie burn after the workout and increase your overall metabolic rate!
The benefits from strength training are many. There is no other way to sculpt a beautiful body without resistance training.  Lots of cardio and a caloric deficit will only reveal a skinnier version of yourself and generally at the cost of also losing muscle.  "Skinny fat," love that term!  Skinnier is certainly a good thing but the real beauty comes from firming and sculpting the muscles that were hiding beneath the insulation.  And ladies...don't worry about bulking up, without hormonal assistance you will not get huge!
Through weight training you will build more lean muscle tissue thus raising your resting metabolic rate with resulting increased caloric burn at rest! Increasing your lean body mass (LBM) improves your body fat percentage/body composition and THIS should be the goal of healthy lifestyle makeovers!
Need to lose the scale and focus on fat loss, not weight loss. Initially scale weight may not decrease and may actually increase as you add resistance training to your program. Fear not, just adopt a different method of tracking your progress, consider an honest look in the mirror, a tape measure or skin fold calipers. And of course consider the fact that your clothes will start to fit differently.

Strength training provides so many benefits to both physical and mental health:
  • improved strength and function, stronger bones
  • improved body composition (increased LBM/decreased body fat %)
  • improved physique
  • increased resting metabolic rate (increased calorie burn at rest!)
  • stress relief
So venture out of your comfort zone, look the muscle heads in the eye, pick up a dumbbell and start sculpting a better/healthier body!

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