We’ve all been there at some point. You need to lose some weight. Unfortunately for many people, they end up opting for the cardio as their primary means to burn fat. If you’re not including some form of strength training in your weight loss program, you’re missing out on a lot of fat loss potential.
Why Strength Training for Fat Loss?
OK, so your goal isn’t necessarily to build muscle, it’s to lose fat, so why would you want to do strength training? Well, there are many reasons actually. Here are a few:
- Strength training builds muscle – Building muscle is extremely important for fat loss. Muscle has a strong appetite for fat. It eats it at all hours of the day, not just during your workout like regular cardio does. As you sit there and read this article, your body is mobilizing fatty acids and feeding it to your muscle. So yes, while you might (and I do mean might) burn more fat calories during a steady-state cardio session, a strength training session will continue to burn calories – possibly forever! Here are 50 tips for building muscle the right way.
- Strength training creates a favorable metabolic environment for fat loss – I continue to repeat over and over again to use exercise to create a metabolic environment that is conducive to fat loss, and then use nutrition to lose the fat. Without strength training, you’re at a disadvantage when you try to drop body fat. Strength training boosts several hormones, including testosterone and growth hormone, and it stimulates the release of many chemicals that help mobilize fatty acids. Find out how to lose fat without losing muscle.
- Strength training creates an afterburn effect – The afterburn effect, also known as EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption), helps you continue to burn calories hours (even days) after your workout. Your body uses extra calories after intense strength training to return your heart rate to normal, to re-oxygenate the blood, to replenish muscle glycogen stores, and for cellular repair. The EPOC effect is most closely correlated to exercise intensity, but strength training has been shown to provide a larger effect . Here are 10 powerful ways to stimulate muscle growth and create an afterburn effect.
Are Strength Training and Cardio Mutually Exclusive?
I need to clear something up. Many people assume that strength training and cardio are mutually exclusive. In other words, they think you need to do both to reap the benefits of each. That is not the case. Cardio is simply cardiovascular training. We know this, but many people forget that strength training, when done with intensity, is also cardiovascular in nature.
Don’t think so? Load up the bar with your squat 10 rep max. Get under the bar and knock out those 10 reps, but wait! Once you finish those 10 reps, don’t rack the weight. Let it sit there on your back while you catch your breath. Now, go down and do another rep. Catch your breath again, but don’t rack the weight. Do another rep. Continue doing reps without racking the weight until you hit 20 reps.
That my friends is what you call 20-rep squats, and it’s guaranteed to have you lying on the floor for an hour after your workout. Do that and then tell me you need to do some kind of separate cardio. Done correctly, strength training is a very intense interval training protocol that will shed the fat like no other.