Is Strength Training The Key To Long-Term Weight Loss?


How often have you used a diet, even one recommended by your doctor or other health professional, only to lose the weight you wanted in the beginning and then put it all back on again a few months later?

It’s called the “Yo-Yo” effect, and it’s very common.

There are many ways diet gurus have suggested to break the Yo-Yo cycle, but I know that if you want to “break” anything, the best way is to apply a little muscle to it!

The latest research seems to suggest that the same is true for long-term weight loss. If you want to lose weight and keep it off, research shows that no matter what type of diet and exercise plan you choose, adding strength training to build lean muscle to your regimen is the way to go!

Why the Yo-Yo?

Obviously, losing weight starts with eating less; that goes without saying. At its most basic level, fat is simply stored energy that the body could not consume when too many calories are eaten. Reduce your caloric intake, and that means more stored fat needs to be burned to make up for the shortfall.

When you first go on a calorie reducing diet, your body will draw on its fat stored energy reserves to sustain itself, and you will lose weight.  But the problem is, starving the body does not bring lasting results.

First of all the rapid and initial weight loss, you see in the first few days of any diet is mostly water. Then the yo-yo effect occurs whenever you return to a normal level of caloric intake — your body will “remember” the shortage it just went through, and will reflexively slow your metabolism, and store additional reserves for future shortages.

The best way to snap the body out of that is by taxing it a bit with muscle-building and endurance training.

Pump It Up

According to a recent report released by Ingo Froboese, fitness trainer and a professor at the Health Centre of the German Sport University in Cologne, “Since muscles consume energy, muscle-building training — and consequently a higher proportion of muscle in the body — is one of the building blocks for a lasting increase in energy turnover, and the key to long-term weight loss.”

Now wait a minute – I can hear the growling – how can you lose weight by building muscle mass –isn’t that how people gain weight? Well yes, you can go from a 98-pound weakling to a 200 pound “Charles Atlas” by pumping iron, but that is not the kind of intense bodybuilding workouts that Froboese and others are suggesting.

Here’s the deal: the secret to effective and permanent weight loss is to increase your body’s Resting Metabolism Rate or RMR. RMR is the rate at which your body consumes calories when at rest. Guess where your body uses up the bulk of the calories you eat – in lean muscle mass. Muscle tissue is active even when not in motion; muscles use calories, fat does not — it just lies there like the blob that it is.

But muscle is like a racecar at the starting line with its engine revving, always ready to “go-go-go.” The more lean muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn.

Even the best calorie reducing diet, without strength training and resistance exercise, does little or nothing to increase RMR. This is why diet alone can never lead to permanent weight loss. And even aerobics and other cardio workouts usually used to burn calories and slim down, do little to raise RMR. That is why fitness pros like Froboese, all suggest adding weightlifting to any exercise for effective and long-term weight loss.

And what’s good for the goose is also good for the gander. Strength and endurance training is a great way for women to take off weight and keep it off too! And don’t be afraid ladies; weightlifting isn’t going to make you look like The Incredible Hulk, but it may make your girlfriends green with envy!

Thanks to Mother Nature, most women just do not have enough testosterone to develop a “manly physique.” And besides, we are not talking about a heavy 2 hour a day Mr. Universe pumping iron session. As part of a regimen to raise RMR, moderate weight lifting, or resistance training, 2 – 3 times a week is all it should take.

The bottom line is, just eating less slows metabolism – strength training and weight lifting increases it. Dieting plus endurance and strength training leads to a slimmer healthier you.

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