Many assume that strength training is beneficial for those looking to build strength or increase their muscle size, but lifting weights can also an integral element to a successful weight loss program. It's true that you can significantly build muscle mass and thus gain weight with strength training, but if you participate in a program that is of the appropriate frequency and volume, you can utilize the benefits of weight training to facilitate your efforts to lower your body fat percentage.
The important element involved in weight loss is the balance of calories that you burn versus the balance of calories than you take in from the food and drink you consume. This explains why most weight loss programs suggest consistent exercise and healthy eating habits. Therefore, along with healthy eating, important to weight loss is consistently participating in high-calorie burning activities, such as running, swimming and biking. In a 60-minute cardio workout, you can burn about 300 to 1,000 calories.
However, strength training also increases the number of calories you burn. You don't burn as many calories during the actual activity, but the results from your lifting efforts make a lasting impact on your resting metabolic rate. Resting metabolic rate is a term to describe the number of calories that you burn throughout an entire day. Calories are always being used in order to maintain the function of numerous processes, including brain function and respiration. This means you're burning calories even when sitting at work and while you're sleeping. You can increase your resting metabolic rate by participating in consistent strength training. The muscle mass that you have on your body requires calories in order to maintain the tissue's function and structure. Therefore, more muscle means that more calories must be attributed to maintaining the tissue.
Instead of picking up the weights and getting to work, it's important to first understand what frequency, volume and intensity of strength training will maximize your results.
Frequency is how often you lift weights. If you're a beginner or haven't participated in strength training in a while, start with two days per week. Be sure to allow two days of rest in between each of your sessions. For example, a Monday and Thursday or Tuesday and Friday schedule is ideal for allowing your muscles the rest they need in between to heal. Once you're lifting weights two days per week consistently for eight weeks, bump up your frequency to three days per week. At this time, you'll want to adjust your training schedule to Monday, Wednesday and Friday or Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Volume is the number of sets and repetitions you perform during each workout session. Start with two sets of 10 to 12 repetitions of each exercise. Perform one set and then rest 90 seconds before jumping into the second set. The reason we suggest the range of 10 to 12 repetitions is that it depends on when you're muscles become fatigued. If you finish repetition number 10 and still feel like you could squeak out additional repetitions, you should do so.
Intensity is the amount of weight that you'll use for each exercise. It's impossible to suggest what exact weight you should use for an exercise, because it depends on your own strength levels. The amount of weight you use should be the weight that causes you to become fatigued near the 10 to 12 assigned number of repetitions. If you perform 10 to 12 repetitions, but use too light of weights and your muscles don't feel fatigued as you finish the set, you won't see any results. You should be struggling to complete the tenth, eleventh and twelve repetitions. If not, pick up a heavier weight. Similarly, if you're unable to reach 10 repetitions of any exercise, use a lighter weight on the next set.
With consistent training, you'll see notable results in about eight weeks. Because you'll be participating in a healthy eating plan and thus be consuming a healthy number of calories, you won't be gaining excessive muscle mass, but will instead see developments in muscular tone.