There are many benefits to lifting weights, but if you are trying to change the scale, there are three very good reasons to incorporate strength in each of your workouts.
1. Lifting weights improves your body's use of fat as an energy source. You guessed it, this means you will lose body fat directly because fat is the energy used in a strength workout. Weight training also transforms the body into one that burns more stored fat during the rest of the day. Think of weight lifting as a teaching process for your body.
Jill Koegel is a registered dietitian and certified personal trainer based in Omaha. She blogs every Wednesday. Read more from Jill.
2. Weight training increases your metabolism, by building muscle mass. The simple explanation is that muscle uses more energy than fat tissue, which makes your overall calorie burn for the day higher. This allows for more weight loss. In addition, the calories you burn after a strength workout (excess post exercise oxygen consumption, EPOC, or “afterburn”) are higher than after a run on the treadmill.
3. Strength training improves how your body looks and fits into clothes. While we all want to be healthier and live a longer life, it certainly helps to look better, too. Muscle is more dense than fat. In fact, while a pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat (one pound!), it takes up only about a third of the space. If you burn body fat, and retain muscle, the result is a smaller body. Smaller sizes are coming your way!
Here is a simple weight routine to incorporate into your week. Perform strength training three to four times a week, depending on your goals. Incorporate this routine with your cardio exercise for best results. This short workout works the three biggest muscle groups, and should be repeated two or three times. If you want to perform two or three sets of the same exercise at once, then move on to the next, that is appropriate as well.
10 to 20 deep knee bend squats: Make sure your knees stay in line with your ankles as you push your bottom back. Keep your feet about hip distance apart, your weight in your heels, and your upper torso as upright as possible.
10 to 20 pushups: Perform these on your toes if you can keep your back flat and get your elbows bent to 90 degrees. If not, do them on your knees. Hands should be wider than shoulder distance apart, and at chest level. Keep your belly pulled up and in and don't forget to breathe!
10 to 20 row backs: Standing up, hold two dumbbells at your sides. Bend forward at the waist, knees slightly bent and belly pulled in. Let weights dangle in front of you, but keep shoulders pulled back. Head up, pull weights alongside your thighs, squeezing the shoulder blades together, and bending the elbows. Pause when your elbows are pulled up, then release slowly and repeat.