The beginning of a new year brings in the renewed hope for change. I think that is why many people begin the year looking to change something about their appearance that they are unhappy with. Weight is a common theme for change in January with thousands of people across the country beginning a new diet and exercise regime in the first month of the year. In fact, some gym websites report an increase in traffic on their sites of up to 40% in January.
Many people believe that changing their diet and doing cardio exercise is the best way to burn fat. However, they would be mistaken. Lifting weights and strength training is often overlooked by people who want to lose weight through exercise. This is because it can often be considered simply a way to build muscle rather than burn fat. However, lifting weights can have a huge beneficial impact to your weight loss. It can help you to lose weight quicker than cardio alone.
The science bit
While it is true that cardio exercise burns plenty of calories and fat, that effect stops as soon as you stop the exercise. When you lift weights and strength train, the calorie burning effect lasts for a much longer time once the exercise has finished. Strength training with a high number of reps has what is known as EPOC, Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption. This refers to how long your metabolism is elevated for after you have exercised.
Scientific studies have shown that a well-designed weight lifting programme can elevate your EPOC, or metabolism. It can do so for anywhere up to 38 hours after you exercise has ended. This means that your body is continuing to burn fat and calories for over a day after a strength training session. Compare that to the relatively short-lived fat burning benefits of cardio. You see why including lifting weights in your exercise regime isn’t such a bad idea?
Once you have established a weight lifting exercise regime, you can boost the fat burning effects by adopting a routine of high reps and increasingly shorter rest periods. This way of training is often used by body builders in the run up to a competition. This is because it causes a dump of growth hormones in the body. Growth hormones are potent fat burners and can give your weight loss a huge boost. They also act as a mild anabolic. Therefore they can increase muscle mass too.
Adding strength training to your exercise regime
As with any new form of exercise, it is best to start small and work your way up. If you have never lifted weights before then it is a good idea to pay for a PT session. In your local gym a trainer will be able toadvise you on the machines to use. Also they can tell you the weights to start off at. Don’t be tempted to jump straight in at the heaviest weight you can lift. Strength training is about the reps. If you can only lift a weight two or three times, you won’t be training your muscles at all. Go at your own pace and don’t compare yourself to others.
Lifting weights isn’t just for body builders. With huge fat burning benefits it’s the ideal change to make in the gym this January.