reposted and written by Mary Ellen Coffey
When we make the decision to lose weight we want to focus on losing unhealthy body fat and not healthy muscle.
Strength training builds healthy lean muscle while burning unhealthy body fat
We may think that "dieting" or "cardio" without any kind of strength training is all we need to get us to our weight loss goal. The scale number may in fact change, but without strength training you'll lose healthy muscle, and that's not what we want when we're trying to lose weight. We need that healthy muscle.
Losing healthy muscle is not the way to lose unhealthy body fat
Muscles are "calorie hungry." 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 or resistance training is what we need
A basic full body strength training routine two or three times a week will help you build healthy lean muscle while blasting unwanted, unhealthy body fat. Strengthening fundamental movement patterns is a good place to start: Squat, Pull, Push, Press, Hinge, Core.
When you begin a strength based program be sure to start 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.
Here's a workout example using fundamental movement patterns:
Squat: Box squat (With legs shoulder width apart sit down on a chair, knees track over toes. Keeping your spine long and chest forward. Stand up by pushing through your heels. Repeat 10 to 15 times)
Pull: One arm row (Left knee on a bench, right foot on floor, bend forward at the hips, left hand on bench and weight in right hand, keeping your back straight pull right hand towards hip. Repeat 10 to 15 times)
Push: Pushups (Start with your hands on a counter, keeping your back straight, bending at the elbows, let your chest come to the counter and push away. Repeat 10 to 15 times)
Press: One arm press (Stand tall holding a weight in one hand at shoulder height, press up towards the ceiling while keeping your hand lined up with your shoulder at the top of the movement. Repeat 10 to 15 times)
Hinge: Hip hinge (With your back towards a wall, move away far enough to bend at the hips, slight bend in the knees, push hips back and lightly touch buttocks to the wall, keeping your back straight. Repeat 10 to 15 times)
Core: Plank (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 this position or keep your knees on the floor and hold. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds)
By sticking with these basic movement patterns you'll help strengthen your whole body. Add in 30 minutes or more of walking a few times and week and you'll be well on your way to building healthy muscle while losing unhealthy body fat.
Strength training teaches you how to use your body better
As you gain lean muscle and become stronger, you'll learn how to move your body better. The potential for injury from a sudden fall, or lifting something heavy off the floor will decrease.
Also, numerous studies show the mental benefits of exercise should not be overlooked. Your feel good hormones, serotonin and norepinephrine, are naturally elevated through exercise. This offers an antidepressant effect and especially helps with anxiety and, or depression. So whenever you're feeling gloomy or blue, just hit the weights and before you know it, you'll be feeling much better.
Weight loss or fat loss, what's the big deal? Now you know. 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.
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...