Reader Question: How Does Strength Training Help Weight Loss?
“How does strength training help you lose weight? I’ve always been told that it comes down to cardio and burning calories.”
When we workout, especially if we’re seeking fat loss and a change in body composition, we want to chase a hormonal effect from exercise rather than an amount of calories burned. Our hormones run the show and dictate everything our bodies do.
Strength training creates the most positive hormonal environment in our bodies conducive to fat loss. It also helps to boost our metabolism, which slow, steady-state cardio doesn’t do. Steady-state cardio does provide a myriad of health benefits, but it isn’t the quickest, most effective and most sustainable method for fat loss and shouldn’t be our primary means of exercise.
Ideally, you should prioritize moderate-to-heavy strength training with an appropriate amount of cardio on an “as- needed” basis. (Click here to read more and for 6 FREE sample cardio workouts).
Strength training also helps preserve and increase our resting metabolic rate (how many calories we burn in a day) by preserving and increasing lean muscle mass. Our bodies burn more calories by maintaining muscle than they do by maintaining fat, because well, muscle is harder to maintain that fat is. So a higher amount of muscle = a higher, better crankin’ metabolism.
Weight Loss Vs. Fat Loss
It’s important to mention that when people say weight loss, they really mean *fat* loss – weight loss doesn’t specify where the weight is coming from. It could be fat, it could be muscle, water loss, poop or cutting off a limb (hey, that counts as weight).
The number one goal for the majority of people when trying to lose body fat is to preserve as much lean muscle as possible. (Remember, muscle = metabolism).
When we haphazardly lose weight as opposed to just body fat, we also lose muscle and other lean mass which plummets our metabolism and makes the weight loss harder to maintain (because now that our metabolism has decreased, we can’t consume as much food as before without gaining fat). This is why so many who experience weight loss, especially at a faster rate or without a proper strength training or nutrition program, usually end up gaining it all back and more.
Fat loss specifically targets losing just fat while maintaining muscle.
Maintaining and building strength is the absolute best way to ensure you’re not losing muscle. Strength training is also the key to appearing more toned after we lose fat. And beyond vanity, strength helps us embody more confidence because we can lift some major poundage and we feel powerful as heck.
So in terms of fat loss and changing our bodies, strength training while eating in line with our goals is the #1 priority AND our healthiest, sanest and most sustainable option.
Be aware of gimmicks that tell you otherwise!
Have a fitness, strength, mobility or nutrition question? Reach out! Erika@HurstStrength.com