Strength Training & Losing Weight

Overview

One major key to permanent weight loss is strength training. The use it or lose it principle applies here. Over time our bodies tend to lose muscle mass. Muscle helps the body burn more calories, as this tissue is more metabolically active at rest than body fat. With more than one third of all Americans classified as obese according the the Centers for Disease control, strength building needs to become part of your regular workout routine.

Significance

Incorporate strength training into your regular workout routine to build muscle mass that aids in losing weight. Many women fear bulking up like a man, so they tend to shy away from the weights. Few women actually have the necessary hormones to build muscles in this manner. Aside from contributing to weight loss, strength training helps to reduce risk of injury, improve bone density and reduce the symptoms of many chronic aches and pains.

Options

Strength training includes any activity that builds muscle. Exercise at home or the gym using your body weight, resistance tubing, dumbbells and machines. For body weight exercises, incorporate squats, push-ups, lunges and pull-ups. Resistance tubing works great if you have limited space or money to invest. Dumbbells require you to work against gravity incorporating more core stabilization into your workout. Machines obviously cost more money but provide a few more options.

Recommendations

According to the Centers for Disease Control, American adults must include at least two days of muscle building activity per week. Specific exercises should incorporate all the major muscle groups including the back, chest, legs, shoulders and abdominal muscles. Exercises should be hard enough so you reach a point of fatigue upon completion of the set. Be sure to learn good form, regardless of the option you choose.

Program Design

A strength program for weight loss should take at least 20 minutes and include several sets of different exercises incorporating the upper and lower body. About 10 to 15 repetitions make up one set. For weight loss purposes, circuit training provides the best results. Circuit training incorporates several exercises one after the other with minimal rest. A sample circuit workout would start with a set of squats followed by push ups, lunges, plank and a shoulder press. Complete one set of each exercise without resting. After one circuit, rest one minute and repeat circuit two to three more times.

Precautions

While strength training is crucial to any complete weight loss fitness program, be sure you perform the exercises safely. Find someone to teach you proper lifting technique. Injuries can happen with improper form. Lift weights appropriate to your fitness level. Additionally, any injuries must be considered when choosing specific exercises. Keep in mind, most exercises can be modified. If something feels uncomfortable, stop and find someone to help.

About this Author

Lisa Martin holds a B.S. from the University of Maryland in dietetics, personal training certification through AFAA and is CSCS certified through NSCA. As the owner of Wellness Evolution, she has more than 10 years of experience in the industry, writing a monthly newsletter, blog and articles for various local newspapers.