I don’t know about you, but the older I get, the harder it is to lose any type of weight. It is a frustrating situation, especially when I have so much I want to lose. It is a daily struggle to keep up the motivation and keep plugging away.
Trust me, I have fallen off the wagon, so to speak, many times. My metabolism is shot after so many years of dieting and yo-yoing. However, I have found that using weights and resistance activities does help me. It sculpts my body and makes me stronger. Plus, when I use weights, I can drop some weight a bit more easily.
So I thought I would check into why strength training affects the metabolism and see if there is any health and science info behind it all. Here is what I found.
Why We Need Exercise
Most of us know that without exercising, it is difficult to maintain your weight, or even lose a few pounds. This is especially true the older we get. Exercising is the key to burning calories, which helps us maintain or lose weight.
But not all exercise is equal. The type of exercise you do, along with intensity and duration, makes a difference in the number of calories burned. This is true both at the time you are exercising and well after the exercise is completed.
Other factors that affect the number of calories burned are age, gender and genetics – all of which you can’t do much about. So focus on the one thing that you can control – exercising.
Different Types of Exercise
Aerobic exercise, like cardio and endurance, are activities usually done at a slower pace, but over a longer period of time. These activities burn calories but usually focuses on burning stored fat. Walking, running, Zumba and Pilates are all types of training that fall into this category.
These activities burn calories, but they are calories that the body doesn’t need to replace, so the rate at which your body is burning calories decreases once the aerobic activities stop.
However, when you engage in anaerobic-type activities – strength training activities done at a faster pace, but for a shorter duration – you are burning glucose, which are calories that reside deep within your muscles. This includes activities such as medicine ball throws, kettle bell swings, resistance training and heavy weightlifting.
The great thing about strength training is you not only get a high calorie burn while exercising, but the burn continues afterward as your metabolism keeps working at a high rate until it has replaced the glucose that was depleted in your muscles.
The secondary effect of strength training is the increase in the size of your muscles. Ladies, we are not talking about body building – just a toning, firming and slight increase in size.
Many women are afraid to get into strength training because they think they will develop a lot of muscle. It just won’t happen; the hormone structure of our gender won’t allow it.
How Strength Training Helps Raise Your Metabolism
The good news is with a more defined muscle structure, your metabolism will work at a higher rate even while at rest and sleeping. More muscle means more glucose in your muscles which makes your metabolism work harder to keep up on the glucose used.
The downside of strength training is you can’t do it constantly, nor should you. So a good compromise is to do a cardio activity three days per week and include a two or three days of strength training. Just make sure you have a day or two between your two days of strength training.
How to Start Strength Training
Target certain muscle groups for the best results: abs, glutes, quads and biceps. Then start slow with 8-10 repetitions of a manageable weight. Strive to do one to two complete sets.
What is a manageable weight? One that you can comfortably lift or use for the first several reps but by the end becomes a bit difficult. That is where the muscle development starts. Go slow and allow the muscle to do the work.
Strength training gives you the most calorie burning increase, along with giving you more defined muscle groups. This is important for men and women as we age. The more muscle we have the better we can move, stoop, lift, walk, and generally take care of ourselves.
It is important to understand how strength training helps to raise your metabolism so we can effectively lose weight, maintain our weight, and take care of ourselves as we age. Don’t be afraid of it! Embrace it!
I hope this helped you! Let me know your thoughts below.