I am going to make an assumption about the general population. Most of you are doing a significant amount of aerobic training (running, classes, spinning, hiking etc) and are supplementing that with moderate weight training sessions if you can fit them in to your schedule. Am I right so far?
I am going to make another assumption. Your fitness goal is general toning as well as fat loss. You have also reached a plateau and do not know what changes to make other than to increase the volume of aerobic training to include longer sessions or more workout sessions. How am I doing? I would like to offer a piece of advice that may change your whole workout program. Incorporate more high-intensity weight training workouts into your weekly exercise program and you will decrease your fatty tissue as well as increase your lean muscle tissue, WITHOUT BULKING UP.
You have heard it before I am sure. The more muscle you have the higher your metabolic rate, therefore, you burn more fat on a continuous basis throughout the day. Training aerobically allows you to burn fat during your session and for a brief amount of time immediately following. But what does that mean? First of all, I need to point out something. 1 pound of muscle is denser and takes up less space than 1 pound of fat. For example, 2 people weigh the same standing side by side. One has more lean muscle tissue and the other has more fatty tissue. The person consisting of more lean muscle tissue will look smaller than the one carrying more fatty tissue.
How does weight training help to reduce fat?
I would like to answer the question “How does weight training help to reduce fat” by taking a closer look at the physiology of the body. Our body consists of many different hormones, each one serving a different purpose. The amount or concentration level of each hormone is also important to make sure the body is functioning effectively.
For example, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are a result of too much or not enough hormones secreted by the thyroid gland. The same idea applies to fitness, a deficiency of certain hormones can slow down the process of fat burning and muscle building, therefore not enabling you to reach your fitness goals. One hormone, in particular, is called growth hormone. By producing high levels of lactic acid, the byproduct of intense anaerobic exercise, this anabolic hormone increases its concentration levels.
Growth hormone is important because it both builds muscle as well as increases fat mobilization while inhibiting fat stores. The burning sensation that is felt when weight training is lactic acid build up. Other ways in which lactic acid is produced is by training at high intensities (rate of perceived exertion 8-10 on a scale of 0-10 and a heart rate from 75-90% maximum) while doing cardiovascular exercise. This would include activities such as kickboxing, sprinting and any type of interval training.
Aerobic training (less than 70% maximum heart rate) on the other hand is done below the anaerobic threshold and actually counteracts the anabolic effect of weight training. Cortisol levels are increased robbing you of lean muscle tissue. At this point, you may be losing weight, but you are losing water, a little bit of fat and lean muscle tissue (muscle) resulting in a decreased metabolism and a decrease in strength. Was that your original goal? I do not think so. Most people want to increase or maintain muscle and decrease fat. If I still have not convinced you on the benefits of weight training for increased fat loss I will give you a visual example. Take a look at the body composition of sprinters and gymnasts. Their workouts include limited amounts of aerobic training and yet they carry very little body fat.
I am not saying you need to banish aerobic exercise. (I would be out of a job if that were the case!) It is vital for improving cardiorespiratory fitness, increasing maximal oxygen consumption and helping reduce the risk of various diseases. It is also beneficial as a calorie burner. My point is
Consult a Personal Trainer to help you design a weight training program that is specific to your needs and goals rather than using a “cookie cutter” program. A trainer can also make sure you are using good form and progressing your exercises properly to prevent injury and keep you on the path to meet your fitness endeavors.
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