weight training

While using a strength training routine as a weight loss strategy can be effective, it is important that the strength training routine be geared specifically toward weight loss. However, it is our belief at Fitnesshealth101 that all exercise routines should include some form of strength training.

Generally, strength training is primarily used to build lean muscle mass and muscular endurance, though designing a strength training routine that creates an aerobic effect will promote weight loss and a reduction of unwanted body fat and inches.

Below are a list of several reasons why an aerobically-driven strength training routine can be an effective approach to weight loss:

  • Increased Lean Muscle Mass Increases the Metabolic Rate: As an individual increases their lean muscle mass, they also increase the rate at which their body burns calories (metabolic rate). This is due to the fact that muscle requires more energy than fat. Since more energy is required to sustain lean muscle mass, the body must convert a greater number of calories to energy. By doing so, an individual will increase their metabolic rate and burn more calories per day. This increase in metabolic rate occurs 24 hours a day - even while sleeping.

  • Aerobic Strength Training Burns Calories in Two Ways: There are two primary ways in which an individual will lose excess body fat through strength training. The first way is through elevating the heart rate to a level where an aerobic effect is achieved.

    To achieve an aerobic effect, the heart rate must be elevated to at least 50% of an individual's maximum heart rate and maintained for a minimum of 20 consecutive minutes. Typically, maximum caloric expenditure occurs when the heart is elevated to 60% to 70% of its maximum heart rate. Maintaining a heart rate that is 60% to 70% of the individuals maximum heart rate while strength training is very possible.

    The second way in which an individual will promote body fat loss through strength training is by increasing their metabolic rate. The metabolic rate of the individual will increase solely due to their increase in lean muscle mass.

    The combination of these two principles allows strength training to be an effective approach to shedding excess body fat. It's important to remember that lean muscle, by volume, weighs more than fat. Hence, the greatest results will be observed when measuring the various areas of the body (i.e. waist, hips, legs, arms) and, quite possibly, not on the weight scale.

    It is our belief that the primary measurement tools should be a tape measure and a skinfold caliper. A skinfold caliper measures the percentage of body fat at various parts of the body. If an individual defines their personal fitness goals in regards to measurements associated with the various body areas (i.e. 26-inch waist, 38-inch hips, etc.) and defines their percentage of body fat goals as well, there is no need to even step on a weight scale.

Using Strength Training Properly to Lose Weight

When utilizing a strength training routine to promote weight loss, there are a few basic guidelines to keep in mind. These guidelines are directed at safely improving the individual's health and fitness while reducing their excess body fat at the same time.

    weight training
  1. Ensure that All Major Muscle Groups are Exercised: Exercising the larger muscle groups (i.e. legs, chest, back, and abdominals) requires a greater expenditure of energy, and hence a greater number of calories. The larger muscle groups require the assistance of many of the smaller support muscles.

    For example, when performing a squat, the body requires that the quadriceps, calves, glutes, back and shoulders be involved in the movement. Likewise, when performing the flat barbell bench press, the body utilizes the chest, back, triceps and shoulder muscle groups. Placing focus on strength training the larger muscle groups will not only burn additional calories, but also create greater physical body strength as well.

    However, it is important not to forget to train the smaller muscle groups as spot training will produce physical results that facilitate the obtainment of your overall personal fitness goals.

  2. Periodically Modify Your Strength Training Routine: It is important to modify your strength training routine as your strength and endurance improve. The human body has the ability to become complacent, and if your strength training program does not evolve as your conditioning evolves, your fitness gains will slow.

    For this reason, it is important to continually modify your strength training routine to keep your body off balance and in a continual state of challenge and growth. To this end, you should modify your strength training routine at least once every 3 months.

    There are four primary variables that you can modify in your strength training routine:

    • Vary the specific weight training exercises that you perform: It is important to vary the actual exercises that you perform for each muscle group to ensure that you are exercising each of the muscles from varying angles and with different stress factors. By doing so, you will keep your muscles in a continual state of growth and development.

    • Vary the sequence in which you perform your exercises: For instance, if you typically perform your chest exercises before your triceps exercises, try reversing the order. The triceps are a secondary muscle group that is required to support the chest exercises. By exercising the triceps first, they will be pre-fatigued prior to performing the chest exercises. This approach will force the chest muscles to work harder during your chest exercises since the triceps are already pre-fatigued.

    • Vary the amount of weight used for each strength training exercise: As your physical condition and strength improve, it is important to continually increase the amount of weight that you load to perform each exercise. This item goes hand in hand with the number of repetitions that you perform. When using a strength training routine to promote weight loss, it is important to maintain a heart rate that is 60% to 70% of your maximum heart rate. This means that you need to continue to perform each exercise with moderately high repetitions and minimal rest in between sets.

    • Vary the number of sets and repetitions that are performed per workout: It is important to constantly vary the number of sets and repetitions that you perform for each exercise. For example, once 12 to 15 repetitions for an exercise becomes relatively easy, it is time to increase the repetitions for that exercise. You can also vary the number of sets that you perform per exercise.

      For instance, if you typically perform 10 sets per muscle group, you can increase the number of sets to 12. Another approach is to vary the number of sets per exercise type. For instance, if you typically perform 5 sets of flat barbell bench presses (chest) and 3 sets of flat dumbbell presses (chest), try performing 3 sets of flat barbell bench presses and 5 sets of flat dumbbell presses.

  3. Typical Number of Sets Per Muscle Group: If you are performing a strength training routine for the first time, you may want to begin with 3 sets per muscle group. As your strength and endurance increase, you can begin to increase the number of sets performed per muscle group. As a general rule, you will want to perform between 10 and 15 sets per muscle group. Performing 10 to 15 sets per muscle group will equate to performing 3 to 4 different exercises.

  4. Typical Number of Repetitions Per Set: If the intent of the strength training routine is to lose excess body fat, you will want to maintain a relatively high number of repetitions. Perform between 12 and 18 repetitions for most exercises across all muscle groups. The exception to this rule are the exercises for the abdominals and the calves, in which a higher number of repetitions can be performed. However, if gaining strength is the primary goal, the repetitions per exercise can be lowered to 1 to 6.

  5. Rest Between Strength Training Workouts: Resting the muscles and allowing them to repair is one of the most important aspects of weight training. When a muscle is exercised through strength training, you are actually tearing the fibers of the muscle. As the muscles repair themselves, they come back stronger than they were before the strength training session.

    In fact, muscles only develop during periods of rest. Always allow each muscle group at least 24 to 48 hours of rest before exercising them again. If a muscle group is still sore (due to damage of the actual muscle fibers) after 24 to 48 hours, it is recommended that you rest the muscle group until it is pain-free before working it again. Classic tours to Uzbekistan

  6. Warm Up, Stretch and Cool Down: Before each strength training workout, warm up for 10 minutes by performing a cardiovascular exercise of your choice and then stretch for a minimum of 5 minutes. Warming up and stretching before performing a strength training routine will increase the flow of blood and oxygen to all soft tissue and reduce the probability of injury. By performing a cardiovascular exercise prior to stretching, you will increase the effectiveness of your stretching routine.

    It is also important to perform a cool-down after you have completed your strength training routine. This typically takes the form of additional stretching routine or some light aerobic exercise. This will allow the muscles, ligaments and tendons to relax and elongate, and improves joint flexibility and increases range of motion.

An Appropriate Strength Training Diet

strength training diet

Incorporating a dietary regime that supports a strength training routine is crucial to your weight loss efforts. It is imperative that a strength training routine be supported by a dietary regime that provides all of the nutrients necessary to support muscle development and growth.

In essence, what this means is that you will need to ensure that you are consuming an adequate amount of protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. It is recommended that you consume nutritionally balanced whole foods such as chicken, fish, lean cuts of meat, vegetables, fruits, dairy products, whole grains and legumes.

When designing your weight loss strength training dietary regime, it is important to remember to incorporate all of the necessary elements of a healthy diet:

  • Protein: Protein is the primary building block for lean muscle. Protein is required to promote muscle growth and strength development, and is responsible for repairing the muscle tissue that is damaged during the strength training workout. Typical daily protein requirements are as follows:

    • 1.2 to 1.8 grams per kilogram of body weight

    • 0.6 to 1.2 grams per pound of body weight

    It is important to remember that while protein is required to build and repair lean muscle tissue, it is not a reliable energy source for the body. Carbohydrates are stored within the muscle fibers and converted to energy during the actual workout. To this end, if your dietary regime does not include an adequate amount of carbohydrates, protein may be broken down and used for energy. If this occurs, the protein stores will no longer be used to build and repair the muscle tissue. Foods that are high in protein include meat, poultry, fish, soy products, dairy products, eggs, legumes, tofu and dried beans.

  • Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are required for any individual that is looking to increase their lean muscle mass and strength. There are two basis types of carbohydrates: simple and complex.

    Simple carbohydrates are found in natural and processed sugars, and are rapidly absorbed into the body and used as energy. However, this type of energy is short-lived and can often lead to the individual feeling tired and lethargic. Hence, simple carbohydrates are generally not recommended for individuals that are looking to increase their lean muscle mass or for individuals that are simply looking to live a healthy lifestyle.

    Complex carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for our bodies. Complex carbohydrates come from foods such as wheat, brown rice, potatoes, bread and oatmeal. Complex carbohydrates take much longer for the body to convert into energy, and the energy itself lasts longer than the energy from simple carbs. Daily consumption of foods that are high in complex carbohydrates is recommended for all individuals, especially athletes. Complex carbohydrates are typically described as "good carbs" because they provide the human body with long-lasting energy, thus allowing for extended periods of intense physical exertion.

  • Fat: Fat is one of the most misunderstood nutrients in the world. Fat is not only a necessary nutrient for the human body, but it also provides the human body with energy, surrounds and protects the vital organs, takes part in cellular function and structure, regulates hormonal production, balances body temperatures and transports fat-soluble vitamins. Without the appropriate amount of fat in your diet, true health and well-being could not be achieved.

    Lipids are the scientific term used for fat, and they provide the human body with an excellent energy source. Lipids contain over twice as many calories per gram as protein or carbohydrates. In addition, lipids are typically broken down into two categories: saturated and unsaturated.

    Consuming foods that are high in saturated and/or trans fats may increase the level of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) in the body, hence increasing the risk of heart disease. The USDA recommends that an individual consume no more than 20 grams of saturated fat per day, and that they should limit their intake of trans fat to as close to 0 grams as possible. Many food manufacturers have eliminated trans fat from their products, but it's important to check the label to be sure.

    Unsaturated fats are found in oils and plants. These "good" fats, such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat, are specifically found in fish, nuts, olive oil, canola oil and low-fat or nonfat dairy products. It is important to remember that these types of fat are not only beneficial to the overall health of an individual, but essential as well. These fats make up the essential fat an your body needs through diet called linoleic acid. Linoleic acid cannot be manufactured by the human body. Thus, it is an essential fatty acid that must be obtained through the consumption of food.

    Although excessive amounts of fat in your diet are unhealthy, fat is an essential nutrient that is required by the body and for strength training. In times when carbohydrate stores are depleted, fat can be used as a secondary fuel source. In fact, fat is essential for any healthy dietary regime (less than 30% of your total caloric intake) and can protect the protein stores from being used as energy while allowing them to build and repair muscle.

  • Fluids: As muscles are comprised of approximately 75% water, fluids play an essential role in promoting growth of new muscles and the repair of existing muscle tissue. In addition, water is essential for transporting numerous nutrients to various locations within the body and for providing oxygen to muscle and tissue. In fact, water is so vital to the human body that it will die if deprived of water for 3 to 5 days.

Additional Guidelines to Incorporate

Be sure to incorporate the following guidelines into your strength training routine to not only increase your overall health and fitness, but obtain your weight loss goals as well:

  1. Consume whole foods that contain macronutrient ratios relatively close to the following percentages: 50% complex carbohydrates, 30% proteins and 20% fat.

  2. Minimize skipping meals. Consume three healthy, nutritionally balanced meals per day (i.e. morning, afternoon, evening) and supplement with complex carbohydrates and high-protein snacks throughout the day. Alternatively, you may consume six smaller meals per day.

  3. Consume healthy fats on a daily basis while minimizing the consumption of unhealthy fats that are high in empty calories. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are considered "healthy," while trans fats and saturated fats are considered "unhealthy."

  4. After a strength training workout, consume a complex carbohydrate snack (energy bar or fruit) to immediately replenish energy stores. After the consumption of a healthy snack, consume a larger meal comprised of protein and complex carbohydrates within no more than an hour.

  5. weight lifting drinking water
  6. Consume at least three to five servings of fresh fruit and vegetables each day to meet carbohydrate fiber requirements.

  7. Drink plenty of water. Consume at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day.

Strength training can be an effective addition to a fitness routine that is designed to reduce excessive body fat. Regularly strength training will also increase your Basal Metabolic Rate and hence, the number of calories your body burns per day

In addition to facilitating a reduction in body fat, strength training provides several additional health benefits. It is important to remember to couple a solid strength training routine with a nutritionally balanced dietary regime.

Finally, be sure to get plenty of rest and to allow each muscle group the necessary time to rejuvenate and repair itself before exercising the muscle group again.