WARNING: Swimsuit season approaching!
“I don’t want to get big and bulky, I want to be toned! Enough is enough. I am here to tell you, ladies specifically, that you DO NOT NEED TO FEAR RESISTANCE TRAINING!”
So you went on your spring break trip and felt a little uncomfortable with how snug your swimsuit fit. Now you’re back in the day-to-day routine, but have sworn to kick your training into high gear to look your best for the upcoming swimsuit season. You go back and forth between HIIT workouts, long runs on the treadmill, and spin classes knowing that Memorial Day weekend is fast approaching and so is that dreaded swimsuit.
Almost everyday I hear of women looking to “tone up” by losing weight and shedding body fat in the 3 B’s (Belly, Butt, Bingo Wings (back of the arms ;))). Too often I hear their solution is to pound themselves into the ground with cardio because those workouts burn more calories. It will not make you big and bulky, and it most definitely will contribute to your weight and body fat loss. Now before I enter into the 8 Reasons You Should Resistance Train, I need to address something else – me.
For most of you reading this, you know what I look like. You have heard me refer to myself as a refrigerator – full of food and square shaped. DO NOT WORRY. There is no reason to fear that if you adhere to my advice that you will also turn into a refrigerator (but I do hope you are full of good food).
Remember, I train for this. I am a competitive power-lifter – I need all the muscle I can get. No I’m not bulking, but I am working to build muscle because my goal is performance not appearance. Trust me. There are programs and methods for training that will, if done correctly, will give you the fat loss and toning you are looking for.
“Cardiovascular training is important, so I am not telling you to stop that because I prefer to lift weights. I do cardiovascular training! I am sharing the benefits of resistance training because I want you to understand that there is more to a workout than the number of calories your Fit Bit says you burn.”
If you’ve already incorporated resistance training, but are curious as to why you are not seeing the fat loss results you were hoping for, consider consulting a coach to reformat and help set you up for success. If I have convinced you to start resistance training, then you should definitely find a coach and start on the path for your desired results today!
8 Reasons You Should Resistance Train:
#1 More Effective Fat Loss
This is your goal, correct? Yes, show me your workout log from your phone, and your HIIT workout will most definitely show more calories burned than your resistance-training day. But did you know that after you stop your watch that you continue to burn calories? These calories are for rebuilding what was damaged (that’s a good thing) during your workout. Muscle cells require more energy, which is calories, to maintain and repair than their fat counterparts. This process requires more oxygen, which elevates the post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) burning more calories and raising the metabolic rate. Simply put, a HIIT or cardiovascular dense workout stops the calorie burn when you stop doing it. In contrast, a resistance-training workout continues to burn calories for hours or possibly days afterward.
#2 More Muscle = More Calorie Expenditure
Just as it takes more calories to repair muscles following a resistance-training workout, muscle also requires more calories for maintenance. Therefore, as you build more muscle mass, you are congruently increasing your caloric expenditure to maintain that muscle mass, as a result, you are strengthening yourself as a fat burning machine. Again in simpler terms, think of it like this – you are using your muscles for even the simplest of movements (a twitch or blink of an eye); therefore, the more muscle you have, the more contractions, the more calories expended, and the more fat burned.
#3 Increased Energy
We now understand that an increased muscle mass leads to greater caloric expenditure; however, research suggests increased energy expenditure from resistance-training leads to a more favorable energy balance and fat oxidation. Think of this like your car battery that recharges itself after a jump start. A resistance-training session can recharge your energy systems
and leave you feeling refreshed for your day.
#4 Strengthen Your Brain
Did you know that your brain is a muscle too? Recent research finds overall brain functioning to improve with regular mentally stimulating exercise such as resistance training. When pairing this with computer usage, one is also decreasing the risk for memory loss with age. Various sources also suggest there is an added mental stimulation during resistance training due to the variation of muscle fiber firing within a single training session.
#5 Heart Health While cardiovascular training actually challenges the heart and the speed at which it contracts, there is a great deal of research suggesting how beneficial resistance training can be to the overall health and functioning of the heart. The American Heart Association recommends resistance training as a means of exercise for those seeking to decrease their risk of heart disease. Additional sources have found heart disease risk factors, such as large waist circumference, high triglycerides, elevated glucose levels, and elevated blood pressure, to also decrease with regular resistance training. Resistance training also improves the hearts ability to forcibly contract as it improves its strength as a muscle. Researchers have found this to lower blood pressure and heart rate in the mornings following a resistance training session.
#6 Bone Health
Now that I have explained how resistance training can benefit the two most important organs for keeping you alive (brain & heart), it’s also important to note how beneficial it is to the structure that holds you up. As females, we are at a greater risk for decreased bone density and osteoporosis; however, resistance is a great method for fighting bone loss. How? We now know resistance-training stresses the muscles, and because those muscles are attached to the bones, they are in turn being stressed. Just as when muscles are stressed, bones require repair following this activity. The body signals the sending of nutrients to the stressed bones, and so begins the process of repair to strengthen for future stresses.
Do you feel like you’re falling over every time to you try to stand on one foot? This is caused by an errant or lack of firing by fast-twitch muscles. As you age, you naturally decrease the amount of fast-twitch muscle fibers, which are the primary fibers responsible for catching you when you lose balance. Resistance training reinforces fast-twitch muscle fibers, thus allowing them to stay active for those close calls.
#8 Stress Relief
Everyone talks about runner’s high, but do you know how far you have to run to actually get a runner’s high? Resistance training actually signals the release of endorphins and induces pleasure within the body. To some the sound of weights induces pleasure (okay, maybe that’s just me), but research has actually found memory and cognitive functioning to improve as a result of a resistance training session. This is largely due to its ability to reduce cortisol levels within the body.