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The prevalence of obesity has increased worldwide due to an increasing prevalence of a sedentary lifestyle taking over the physically challenging lifestyle we once had. The good thing is that you don’t have to mindlessly run on a treadmill for hours on end, you can burn fat through strength training.
In this article, we’re going to cover the benefits of strength training for fat loss.
As we all know, being overweight carries with it major health risks. Obesity is linked to several diseases like Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers, and polycystic ovarian syndrome. All of these can significantly affect one’s quality of life. All the more reasons which is why weight loss for overweight individuals is so critical.
The increased energy intake and decreased physical activity are the primary causes of obesity and fat gain, which is why it is often the target for most fat loss interventions.
While the role of diet for weight loss has always been a topic of discussion, newer studies are now proving the benefits of strength training for fat loss.
What is Strength Training?
Strength training is also referred to as weight training or resistance training. It is a type of physical activity that is promoted to improve the strength of muscles and the overall fitness levels of an individual.
Strength training involves exercising different muscles in the body against a form of resistance or load. For example, the resistance may be brought about by using free weights or even the individual’s body weight against their muscles.
This form of training is thought to be required by only athletes or bodybuilders; however, newer studies have shown the benefits of strength training for individuals of all ages and levels of fitness. It can benefit individuals with cardiovascular conditions, arthritis, obesity, and even cognitive disorders.
The Benefits of Strength Training for Fat Loss
Physical activity like strength training is a key factor when it comes to weight loss. It can help individuals burn excess calories, reduce their fat mass, and boost overall metabolism.
1. Strength Training Helps Burn calories
The obvious first benefit of strength training for fat loss is the calories burnt while weight lifting. Even though any form of physical activity burns calories, strength training causes the body to continue burning calories after the exercise.
This is because once the individual is done with their strength training, their body requires some time to return to its resting state, during which the body requires energy which it acquires via burning calories. This is known as Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption or as some say, the “afterburn”.
You can also increase the total calories burnt by increasing your intensity during the exercise. Hence, the more energy consumed during resistance training, the more calories burnt during and after the exercise.
The effect of strength training on energy and calorie consumption was also investigated in several studies.
One such study showed that high resistance training could burn more calories than other exercises like treadmills, ellipticals, and cycling machines. This is also associated with an increased heart rate, which reaches as high as 158 beats per minute, while that for treadmill and cycling exercises only reaches around 138 beats per minute.
The study concluded by stating that individuals who practice high resistance training can burn much more calories than other forms of exercises conducted for the same time period.
2. Strength Training For Reduction of Fat Mass
Strength training is associated with an alternation of body composition. It does this by decreasing the total fat mass while increasing the muscle mass in various areas of the body.
This was proven by a study conducted over 12 weeks, where the participants indulged in 2 weeks of high-intensity interval training and two sessions of resistance training. The study results showed a reduction in both the visceral fat deposits and subcutaneous fat in the participants. They also had a higher muscle mass than at the start of the study.
The association between visceral fat deposit reduction and strength training has recently been discussed. The proposed reason for this is signaling a cytokine known as Interleukin 6.
This cytokine is commonly produced by different cells in the body, which include macrophages, lymphocytes, and adipocytes. When the muscles contract during strength training, they release these cytokines into the body. These then act as potent anti-inflammatory factors, which also cause a breakdown of fatty deposits and induce beta-oxidation.
3. Strength Training For Boosting Metabolism
The third benefit of strength training for fat loss is it will give you a higher metabolism. A higher metabolism has popularly been linked to weight loss. Since resistance training boosts the individual’s metabolism, it can allow efficient fat loss.
It does this by increasing the body’s muscle mass, which leads to higher resting metabolic rates. Hence, the individual may burn more calories with a higher muscle mass than with a lower muscle mass due to its effect on the metabolic rate.
It also leads to increased respiratory capacity, increased cardiac capacity, reduced lipid levels, and improved insulin sensing in the long term.
How Often Should Strength Training Be Conducted For Weight Loss?
Numerous studies have shown different strength training timelines and frequencies to achieve adequate fat loss. However, the majority of experts agree that 3 to 4 sessions per week over a period of at least 12 weeks to be the most effective.
One such study conducted in 2016 showed that strength training with at least four sessions per week could lead to a greater amount of fat loss as compared to two sessions per week. This is true, even when the overall training volume was identical.
Another study also showed that strength training for 12 weeks, 2 times per week could lead to significant reductions in the inflammatory markers in the body. Since fat levels are often consistent with the levels of inflammatory markers in the body, a reduction in inflammatory markers after strength training indicates a fat loss.
As highlighted above, there are plenty of benefits of strength training for fat loss including increased metabolism, fat loss, and calorie consumption. Strength training is unique from other forms of exercise because it can be used to increase muscle mass and reduce body fat. As a bonus, natural calorie consumption is increased, which continues even after the individual is done with their exercises.
However, it is essential to follow proper instructions and techniques during strength training, and consultation with an expert at the start is recommended.
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Editor-In-Chief at Recovatech. Dr. Ben has been a Doctor of Chiropractic for over 10 years, specializing in structural and neurological imbalances with an emphasis in functional movement patterns, exercise performance, and muscle recovery. He has been the team chiropractor for professional baseball and soccer organizations, as well as collegiate athletes. In his personal life, he’s always been driven when it comes to athletics and personal performance. His mornings start by lifting something heavy and end spending time with family.