Summer is upon us, and with it comes a refreshed outlook on exercise, health and fitness. For many of us, this is the time of year that ‘diets’ become more prevalent, as we all try to shed a few pounds to enjoy the sunshine. However, one thing that most diet plans fail to mention is how pointless they are without some form of strength/resistance training. In order to change your body composition, you need to actually challenge your muscles. So today we’re diving into strength training for fat loss and looking at why strength training is imperative to any real, effective health plan.
The ‘Lose Weight Without a Gym’ Myth
We’ve all seen it. Fad diets, miracle pills, claims that you can lose weight with this ‘one simple trick.’ It’s easy to fall prey to these quick-fix solutions, but if they don’t end up reversing your hard work, chances are any ‘weight loss’ can actually be severe dehydration, whilst simultaneously slowing your bodies metabolic processes.
If you are trying to lose weight or change your body composition, you need to challenge your muscles.
Think about that for a second. You are trying to change your body composition. You are trying to reduce your total fat. The only way to make that happen is to stimulate the areas of your body where it is stored and to encourage your body to actually use those stores in order to burn them away. There is no quick fix that will change your body composition, nor is there any meaningful way to do it without actually exercising.
So do you need to allocate hours every day to push your body to exhaustion just to achieve a healthier you? Of course not!
Physical exercise in any form is effective in improving our mental health and aerobic exercise is indeed crucial to our physical wellbeing. However, for fat loss, strength training (combined with balanced nutrition) is the fastest way to change your body composition, and lose fat.
Without first understanding body fat itself, however, and how it is used within the body, it’s impossible to properly target through strength training and exercise.
How Does Your Body Burn Fat?
First and foremost, there is more than one type of fat in the body. Whilst some can cause health problems, other types of fat are actually essential to our normal metabolic processes. In fact, our bodies are already programmed to be fat-burning machines, however, the term ‘metabolism’ is often misunderstood.
Metabolism actually refers to all of the chemical reactions taking place in the body, 24/7, which converts what we eat into a useable form of energy. This energy is literally what keeps us alive, whether it’s the lungs transferring oxygen into the bloodstream, your kidneys filtering waste from your body or your stomach breaking food down into its base elements. In fact, while it may be popular to believe that the only way to burn fat is through strenuous exercise, we actually use most of this stored energy just to function.
Whilst the body’s ability to store and use fat as energy was once necessary for survival, our modern lifestyles often mean that we both consume and store too much of it. When this fat is unused, it becomes visceral fat, which the body stores around organs and arteries. Too much visceral fat leads to inflammation, and can cause:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
Considering that none of us can maintain the diet and exercise regime of sumo wrestlers, we need to understand a few things about fat, and how/why it’s so hard to get rid of.
Stored, or visceral, fat is actually very easy for your body to maintain. It only requires around 2 calories per day, per pound of body fat, to keep it where it is.
On the other hand, muscle is very metabolically active. When we are resting, one pound of muscle will burn around three times as much energy compared to fat, just to maintain itself. A lot of those calories come from the body’s fat stores, and so it stands to reason that the more muscle you have, the more fat burning your body will do in a resting state!
Strength Training for Fat loss
The goal of strength training for fat loss is to increase and preserve our muscle mass while shrinking the fat stored in our cells. Lifting weights actually protects your metabolism, as it:
- Trains it to burn fat stores
- Maintains or increases your resting metabolic rate (the number of calories your body uses just to function)
- Increases blood flow, allowing your body to burn fat more efficiently
- Increases muscle mass, thereby reducing visceral fat in the body, and creating a positive cascading effect. The more you lift weights for fat loss, the easier it is to lose that fat.
The most common mistake we see when trying to lose weight is by going on a restrictive ‘diet.’ When you restrict the number of calories you consume each day, your body will respond by losing either water, muscle tissue, or fat. Water will remain about the same if hydration is the same, and we now know that muscle is much more valuable to have than to not have. But, it is also the first to go when our body needs the room to store fat for energy.
The worst part? In most cases, reducing your calories alone will actually lower your resting metabolic rate. By unintentionally putting your body into survival mode, you are telling it to store more fat for energy, and burning fewer calories when the body is resting.
This is no insignificant figure! In many cases reducing your calories alone can lower your resting metabolic rate by 20%. This means that you would be burning about 300 FEWER calories per day!
The goal of strength training for fat loss is to preserve (or increase) our muscle mass while shrinking our fat cells. You cannot preserve that mass without doing some form of strength training. Put simply:
-Do you want to get stronger? You need to lift weights.
-If you want to change your body shape, you need to lift weights.
-Do you want to boost your body’s natural fat-burning power? You need to lift weights.
-If you want to lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity, you need to lift weights!
Starting to get the picture?
But I Don’t Know How Train for Strength, or Fat Loss
That’s where we come in. Strength and resistance training isn’t actually all about lifting weights. It’s about putting your muscles under pressure and forcing them to grow and repair. It’s about a real, lifelong health strategy that combines different types of training with balanced nutrition to make sure that your body is getting the sustenance it needs, without storing it all as fat.
Strength training is the most effective way to reduce body fat. Period. But you don’t need to do it alone!
At Turnfit, our qualified trainers are here to make sure that you can achieve your health and wellness goals in a safe and effective way. With recent research now confirming that using a personal trainer is significantly more effective than training solo, there’s never been a better time to challenge your muscles, and begin strength training for fat loss.
So take advantage of the best personal trainers in Vancouver, as we begin to re-open our doors to in-person clients! Get in touch with us to organise a FREE health assessment, and take advantage of the support network that our community provides.
We look forward to working on your goals, together.