Strength Training and Weight Loss
by Deborrah Cooper
Strength Training and Weight Loss
The best approach for losing body fat and weight incorporates appropriate caloric intake, weight training and cardiovascular exercise. A review of scientific diet studies covering 40+ years (1966 to June 2008) was conducted by the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. Their findings: a combined diet- with-exercise program provided greater long-term weight loss than a diet-only program.
Muscle mass naturally diminishes with age. Some estimate that we lose half a pound of muscle per year beginning at about age 35, and without strength training, we will have half the muscle at 80 years of age that we had at 40. "If you don't do anything to replace the lean muscle you lose, you'll increase the percentage of fat in your body," says Edward Laskowski, M.D., a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist at Mayo Clinic, and co-director of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center. "But strength training can help you preserve and enhance your muscle mass---at any age."
Strength training is beneficial at any age.
Best Results Achieved with Diet and Strength Training
In 2005 a group of researchers at the Institute of Social Medicine in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, conducted a similar review of 33 diets. Their analysis concluded that diets associated with exercise produced a 20 percent greater initial weight loss and a 20 percent greater sustained weight loss after one year than diet alone.
A study conducted by Wayne Wescott, Ph.D, fitness director at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, Mass., put 70 people on a 20-percent low-fat diet while testing out the effects of exercise. The group that did both cardio and strength training lost twice the amount of weight as the group that did cardio exercise alone. More importantly, the group that did not do strength training lost half a pound of muscle in two months, while the other group gained two pounds of muscle.
Add strength training to your cardio routine.
Boost Your Metabolism with Weights
Dieting without exercise places you at risk for losing muscle AND fat. Even if your weight at age 50 is the same as it was when you were 30, your body composition has changed considerably. As muscle is metabolically active (meaning it utilizes fat as fuel) and fat is not, it is in a dieter's best interest to hold onto as much lean muscle as possible to maintain and boost your calorie burning power.
Maintain muscle mass as you age with weight training.
Strength Training Especially Good for Females
Research by Tufts University has found that strength training can add to bone density, potentially preventing osteoporosis. Having a fit, toned body means you have more muscle and that your body is a fat-burning machine. For every pound of lean muscle mass that you have, you burn 35 to 50 calories per day. Strength training should also be considered for aesthetic reasons, as it enhances muscularity and helps to keep skin taunt and reduce sagging as you lose body fat.
Add lean muscle with weight training.
Starting off with Strength Training
Strength training can be done at home or in a gym. If you've always dieted to lose weight and never tried strength training before, start off at home with bodyweight exercises like push ups, crunches, squats, lunges and pull-ups. Other options for beginners are exercise DVDs and light- to moderate-weight dumbbells. Most health clubs offer a wide variety of weight training machines and classes as well.
Pushups are a great exercise to increase strength.
Always consult with your physician before beginning any new fitness program.