Before you read, let’s take a look at some of the benefits of including resistance training in your exercise program:
Improves body’s lean muscle mass
Decreases overall body fat percentage
Increases body’s overall strength and power
Improves or improves resting metabolic rate
Improves physical health and how you feel
I’ll stop there. The point is there are a very long list of benefits resistance training provides. Now, moving on…
Just about anywhere you turn in the fitness world now-a-days, you’re bound to find something or someone talking about losing weight.
And what’s just as important, or even more important to people, is which is the fastest way to lose weight?
Well first we must look differentiate between weight loss and fat loss. Yes, there is a difference!
While they are very related to one another, they are not one in the same. Weight loss, as we all know, refers to the reduction in body weight. This includes any type of weight lost (fat, muscle, water weight, etc.). However, fat loss is exactly as it sounds: the loss of strictly fat.
So, is fat loss or weight loss better? That depends on each person’s goals. However, I personally would say that fat loss is more beneficial than losing weight as it is described above. And I will provide you with the reasoning below.
By losing fat alone, you are improving your overall body composition by decreasing body fat percentage and increasing lean weight percentage. This is more beneficial because retaining (or gaining) lean muscle mass is very important to one’s overall health.
Thus, when we are comparing between cardiovascular activity and strength training, there is a big difference (as most of you know) in terms of outcomes.
The majority of persons who practice weight training are usually doing so in hopes of adding on muscle mass or strength. I would also venture to say the majority of persons who are performing cardiovascular activity do so in hopes of attaining weight loss (or our of pure enjoyment for either). This doesn’t mean everyone exercises for these reasons, nor does everyone perform just one or the other, but just in general.
*Side Note: More importantly, when it comes to weight loss, diet is the most important factor (reduction of calorie consumption = weight lost).*
Keeping lean muscle mass can be just as important, and often more important, than a reduction in fat or total body weight.
Being overweight can lead to several chronic complications, and we won’t get into that at the moment. However, having a low amount of muscle mass can also cause many problems. There are several activities performed daily that require muscular strength (i.e. lifting any object, bending down/sitting down and standing back up, and just an overall increased risk of injury).
Thus, being able to lose fat while also keeping (or increasing) muscle mass and strength is ideal for 99% of persons who want to lose weight. Even if you don’t lose as much weight as desired (remember: muscle is more dense than fat and thus weighs more), you will have a much better body composition.
Let’s put this into practical terms.
Say we have a 160 pound female with a body composition of 35% fat (mildly above average) and then 65% lean body weight.
This female goes on an aerobic weight loss program and drops 20 pounds in 4 months. Her body composition then drops to 32% fat and 68% lean body weight at a weight of 140 pounds. Definitely much better and healthier than before.
Now, let’s take this same female and say they begin a weight training program. She ends up only dropping ten pounds of body weight in 4 months. However, her body composition vastly improves and her body fat is now 25% and her lean body mass is at 75%.
Now, you might first think after seeing the 20 pounds lost that this is clearly superior. However, we must take into account body composition.
If we were able to compare these two body profiles side by side, the female who performed weight training would (most likely) appear more healthy. She would have more muscle mass and most likely more muscular tone. She would most likely look better (depending on your opinion, to each their own), and would be healthier because we know lean mass is important for overall health.
Weight training has been proven time and time again to be superior in reducing body fat percentage when compared to aerobic, or even HIIT exercise alone.
In a study performed by Kramer et al., the researchers found participants improved body composition most when dieting appropriately along with including aerobic exercise and resistance training. These participants were able to prevent a decrease in basal metabolism, which is vital for maintenance of long term weight/fat loss because it helps keep the amount of calories you burn each day higher.
The reasoning behind this comes down to keeping or adding more muscle mass. If you don’t already know, muscle burns a lot of calories (it needs a lot of energy) and thus will keep your resting metabolism higher if you have more of it.
So if you lose weight solely via aerobic exercise and/or diet alone, you will also lose a significant amount of muscle mass and there’s no way around that without including resistance training. This in turn will also drop your resting metabolism significantly and make it much harder to keep the weight or fat off down the road.
For the women here: DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE WEIGHTS! Women are not physiologically the same as men and you will not become this giant walking ball of muscle (I promise). Implementing weight training will make you feel better, look better, and be healthier.
And for the men reading, who doesn’t want to add on a bit of extra muscle mass or look a little more toned? Just like women, including resistance training will help you look better, feel better, and just be healthier.
Resistance training is best for decreasing body fat percentage when compared to aerobic exercise or diet alone. However, including resistance training with the proper diet, or an aerobic exercise program (or both) will further accelerate fat and weight loss while also retaining muscle mass. And maintaining or increasing muscle mass is vital to keep weight off in the long term, as I talked about above.
Are there any specific modes of exercise that have or haven’t worked well for you?
Any questions or comments? Drop a comment below and let us know!