By Mary Ellen Coffey
When you decide to lose weight or drop a few pounds you want to focus on losing unhealthy body fat and not healthy muscle.
Resistance training builds healthy lean muscle while burning unhealthy body fat
Most people think that "dieting" or "cardio" without any kind of resistance training will get them to their weight-loss goal faster. The scale number may in fact change, but without resistance training you're losing healthy muscle which is not the answer to helping you reach your goals.
Losing healthy muscle is not the way to lose body fat
Muscles are "calorie hungry" so the more lean muscle you have the more calories you burn even at rest. According to the American Council on Exercise "Muscle is very active tissue with high energy requirements for maintenance and rebuilding processes. Even while we sleep, our skeletal muscles are responsible for more than 25% of our calorie use. An increase in muscle tissue causes a corresponding increase in our metabolic rate; likewise, a decrease in muscle tissue causes a corresponding decrease in our metabolic rate."
Strength training may be your answer
A basic full body strength training routine two or three times a week is all you need to build up that healthy lean muscle and blast unwanted, unhealthy body fat. A good place to start is by strengthening the fundamental movement patterns. These will include the:
When starting a strength based program be sure to begin with a weight you can comfortably lift while keeping good form. As your body adapts to these new demands you'll gradually increase the weight over time. Another good way to start is by using your own body as resistance.
An example workout using the above movement patterns could be:
• Squat: Box Squats (with legs shoulder width apart sit down on a chair, knees track over toes. Keep your spine long and chest forward. Stand up by pushing through your heels)
• Pull: Holding a weight in one hand bend forward at the hips, bend knees slightly keeping your back straight, and pull hand towards hip
• Push: Push Ups (start with your hands on a counter, or on the floor on your knees if you can't do a full push up yet)
• Press: Stand tall holding a weight in one hand at shoulder height, press up towards the ceiling while keeping your hand lined up with shoulder at the top of the movement
• Hinge: With your back towards a wall, move away far enough to bend at the hips, slight bend in the knees, and lightly touch buttocks to the wall, keeping your back straight
• Core: Plank position with your forearms on the floor and elbows under your shoulders, lift your body so you're parallel to the floor and straight from head to ankles. Stay tight and hold, or keep your knees on the floor and hold
One way to do these exercises is circuit style (one after the other). You could do 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off. Set your clock for 20 to 30 minutes and circuit through until you reach your desired time.
By sticking with these basic movement patterns to help strengthen your whole body, walking a few times a week, and making healthy food choices, you'll be well on your way to gaining healthy muscle and losing unwanted, unhealthy body fat.
Strength training helps you learn how to use your body better
As you gain lean muscle you will become stronger and move better throughout your day. Not only will you help your body cope better with stressful situations just by being more fit, but your potential for injury from a sudden fall, or lifting something heavy off the floor will decrease.
Numerous studies show the mental benefits of strength training should not be overlooked. Not only are you blasting unhealthy body fat, but through exercise you're naturally elevating your serotonin and norepinephrine levels, your feel good hormones. This offers an antidepressant effect and especially helps those who may be dealing with anxiety and/or depression. Whenever you're feeling gloomy or blue just hit the weights and you can almost guarantee you'll feel much better by the time you're done. A little bit goes a long way.
We all are different but the same
"Weight Loss or Fat Loss. What's the Big Deal? As you can see it is a big deal. Focusing on losing unhealthy body fat and gaining healthy lean muscle by committing to a balanced, progressive, and consistent strength training program should be a priority in your quest for healthy living.
Once you start a strength training program realize that the scale is not an accurate picture of how healthy your body is. Your body fat percentage is a much better indicator. Taking your age, height, and weight into consideration a healthy range for the average fit women should be between 21% and 30% . For the average fit man the range should be between 14% and 24%.
"Nothing happens until something moves."
Useful practical information and a workout or two...