Many people think that to lose fat, they need to ramp up their cardio, and that strength training is only effective if you want to build muscle. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
Strength training primarily focuses on building muscle strength, size, and overall fitness. Here are some reasons why strength training is beneficial:
- Increased metabolic rate: Strength training builds muscle mass, and muscle tissue is metabolically active. The more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns at rest. This is because muscle requires energy to maintain itself.
- Caloric expenditure during exercise: Strength training itself is a form of exercise that requires energy. Depending on the intensity and duration of your strength training sessions, you can burn a significant number of calories during your workouts. While it may not burn as many calories as cardiovascular exercises like running or cycling, strength training still contributes to overall calorie expenditure, aiding in fat loss.
- Afterburn effect: Intense strength training sessions, particularly those incorporating compound exercises and high-intensity intervals, can trigger the afterburn effect or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). This refers to the increased calorie burning that occurs after your workout as your body works to restore energy levels and repair muscle tissue. The afterburn effect can last for several hours, resulting in additional calorie expenditure and fat burning.
- Muscle preservation and body composition: When you're in a calorie deficit for fat loss, there is a risk of losing muscle mass along with fat. However, incorporating strength training into your routine helps preserve muscle tissue. This is important because muscle tissue is metabolically active and contributes to overall calorie expenditure. By maintaining or even building muscle through strength training, you can improve your body composition, increase your lean muscle mass, and potentially enhance fat burning.
- Hormonal benefits: Strength training has been shown to positively affect hormone levels, including an increase in growth hormone and testosterone. These hormones support muscle growth and fat burning. The hormonal response to strength training can help enhance your body's ability to burn fat and promote favorable changes in body composition.
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