So, you want to lose weight. And you want to be healthy. But you don’t want to do any weight training — diet and cardio workouts should be enough for any healthy weight loss program.
Well, they’re not.
You need to incorporate weight training (or strength training as it is sometimes called) into your weight loss routine if you want it to be sustainable and healthy. That is because your muscles are key components in the healthy function of your metabolism.
I can understand that you don’t want to be a body builder. I don’t either, but there are great health benefits to weight training that will not only help with healthy weight loss, they will help you to be healthier and more active as you age. And a weight lifting program doesn’t need to build huge muscles.
Your Body’s Furnace
The muscles of your body are a key component in your metabolism. They are used to burn up the energy that you consume as food. Studies show very clearly that muscle mass continues to consume calories even when your body is at rest.
Weight training can provide a boost to your metabolism that will have your body burning fat calories long after the workout is complete. Muscles will also make efficient use of protein and fat in your diet so that they don’t need to be consumed like regular calories.
While cardiovascular workouts and diet are still a very important tools to achieve your fitness goals, you must not neglect the advantages that strength training can provide.
Weight training does more than increase your muscle mass. It is also critical in the building and maintenance of your bones as well. Just like you experience with the muscles in your body, bones are built up based on the strain that is applied to them. The bones that are used to regularly lift heavy objects will be strengthened by the body.
The expression use it or lose it applies here just as much as it does with your muscles. There is evidence that weight training can lead to stronger bones as we age, reducing the risk of many diseases associated with age such as osteoporosis or arthritis.
The most important factor when looking at exercise to build your bone strength (also known as bone density) is that it must put stress on the bones. Activities such as swimming or cycling may work the muscles and joints, but they don’t work the bones. Weight training provides the stress on the bones that will trigger your body to make them stronger.
Now that we’ve settled the benefits of weight training for your healthy weight loss plan, the next question is what equipment should you use? This will depend a large amount on what you are comfortable with. There are two main types of weight equipment — free weights and weight machines.
This is the typical weight equipment that you will think of when you think about body building — bars that you add weights to that can be used for a limitless arrangement of exercises together with a bench.
Free weights allow for an incredible range of different exercises. This is very important for those who want to develop specific muscle groups (i.e. body builders) but less important for those who are seeking to simply build lean muscle mass for the health benefits.
One negative with free weights is the fact that they are more dangerous than weight machines. For this reason it is important to workout with a partner who can spot you when doing potentially dangerous exercises such as bench presses.
A weight machine is a device that is designed to make weight training more safe and simple. They don’t have the flexibility of free weights, but there is less danger associated with them.
There are many different types of machines available, some that focus on one type of exercise and others that allow a broader range. But there are two basic types of machines out there.
Machines that use weights are very similar to free weights in that gravity acting on the weights provides the load to work your body. There is a system of cables and pulleys attached to a stack of weight plates that provide the workout.
These systems are heavy (well, d’uh) and cumbersome to move around. They also tend to be quite noisy as the weight plates clank against each other. However, they are simple to use and provide a much safer experience than free weights.
Resistance machines don’t have weights built into them. They use resistance of some sort to provide the workout for you. This may be in the form of bands that stretch or carbon fiber rods that bend.
Workouts with these machines tend to be quieter and the machines are naturally lighter which can be handy if you need to move them around in your workout area.
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