What is resistance training? And more importantly, how can it help you lose weight?
You’ve decided to lose some weight, congratulations! Just getting started is the hard part. But there’s another thing that could make it that much harder. A thing that will end up wasting your time in the long run.
Picture this: You spend six months to a year (or more!) cutting calories in an effort to lose weight. You watch what you eat, do cardio just about every day, skip happy hour after work, give up gourmet meals with friends and family–choking down chicken breast and broccoli for the millionth time while everyone else dives into their culinary delights. You make every sacrifice possible to have those numbers on the scale continually drop in your favor. Yay, you’re losing weight!
And when you finally get down to your goal weight, you don’t look anything like you thought you would. You’ve worked so hard to get where you are, but all you have to show for it is a deflated look and a bit of leftover flab. You’ve become skinny fat.
WHAT IS SKINNY FAT?
When you’re skinny fat, you’re actually carrying more fat than you should be at your ideal weight, and you’re lacking in overall muscle mass. All that calorie-cutting and cardio eats away at your body fat, but it also eats away at healthy, lean muscle mass too. This often leaves you with skinny arms and legs, a fluffy belly, and a droopy, flat backside.
Imagine going through all the sacrifices mentioned only to end up unhappy with how you look after all. So what’s the solution? Resistance training.
WHAT IS RESISTANCE TRAINING?
Most people believe cardio and cardio-focused sports are a great way to get in shape. And they’re right. Cardio and all it entails is amazing for heart health, mental health (hello endorphins!), and overall well-being. But if you’re trying to lose weight, cardio might hurt your results.
Should you skip cardio completely? No, absolutely not! Remember the heart health aspect. We definitely want to keep that.
But what you should do is add resistance training to your workout regimen.
Resistance training includes lifting weights or using resistance bands, kettle bells, sandbags, water jugs, anything that requires significant force to move. Anytime our muscles encounter an object that takes effort to move, our muscles improve. They get stronger, and usually bigger.
HOW DOES RESISTANCE TRAINING HELP WHEN YOU’RE DIETING?
#1 RESISTANCE TRAINING PRESERVES MUSCLE MASS
Chances are, underneath the fat you want to lose is already lurking perfectly good, wonderfully beneficial muscle mass. You just can’t see it. Yet.
The number one reason you want to include resistance training while dieting is to preserve that valuable muscle you already have.
When we perform challenging resistance movements like lifting weights, our muscles are forced to do something they’re not used to. This causes the body to go into “survival mode,” fighting to keep the muscle mass you already have. Your body doesn’t want to be caught off guard later should you need to use that same force again in the future. So your body says, “Oh, we need to keep this muscle, so let’s use the fat mass for fuel first.”
On the flip side, if your body never gets the signal that you need your muscle mass to move heavy objects, it doesn’t seem very concerned where it gets it’s fuel for energy from. So it will use both stores of energy interchangeably. This is especially true if you are drastically cutting calories.
Resistance training will aid in maintaining a healthy body shape, and help deter a deflated, flabby, and unhealthy physique while you lose weight.
#2 RESISTANCE TRAINING BUILDS MUSCLE MASS
Building muscle mass while you are dieting is possible, but it isn’t easy. Eating in a caloric surplus increases the ability to add muscle mass more easily, while eating in a deficit makes it harder.
If you are a beginner with resistance training, you will easily add some muscle mass, whether you’re dieting or not. Anything that challenges you in this beginner state, will change you. As you progress and become more efficient with resistance training, you will find it harder to increase muscle mass while in a caloric deficit.
After your beginner muscle gains run out, you will gain muscle much more slowly while in a deficit. It’s so slow that you may not be able to see it visually for many months, or even years.
But stick with it because, even if you hit a wall with muscle-building, you will still preserve what you’ve built.
And you will be glad you did because maintaining muscle mass is not only a great way to combat becoming skinny fat, it also makes the whole dieting process easier. Muscle mass burns more calories than fat mass, making it that much easier to reach your weight loss goal. Who doesn’t love that?
#3 RESISTANCE TRAINING BURNS CALORIES
Cardio isn’t the only game in town when it comes to burning fat calories. While it may not be as easy to keep your heart rate up as cardio, there’s a few things you can do to make resistance training work for you.
All of these methods will help keep the heart rate up, causing you to burn calories.
#4 RESISTANCE TRAINING CURES WORKOUT BOREDOM
Say goodbye to endless treks on the treadmill. Incorporating resistance training will help you mix it up in the gym, keeping boredom at bay and your sanity intact.
Think about it: are you motivated to go the gym when you’re bored? Not really. Having another option in your workout arsenal will help you stay motivated, and keep you on the path to successful weight loss.
Weight loss success hinges on many things. Motivation, will power, discipline, and consistency are all keys to successfully navigating your weight loss journey. Resistance training is the key to ensuring you don’t waste any time while dieting, enabling you to reach the end of your journey just the way you envisioned.