Lift Weights to Lose Weight

I believe that an effective weight loss program is like a three-legged stool. The three legs are diet (the right amount of calories), aerobic exercise (walking, jogging, etc.), and weight lifting (also known as strength training or resistance training). Most people are familiar with dieting and aerobics but don't consider weight lifting a weight loss tool because they think it is only for huge muscled bodybuilders. Yet, lifting weights can do what dieting and aerobics cannot. It can make you burn more calories throughout the day, not just during the workout.

Raises metabolic rate.
Your ''basal metabolic rate'' is the rate at which you burn calories at rest during a twenty-four hour period. These are the calories needed to stay alive or to maintain all the cells of your body. Muscles are the most metabolically active tissue. Muscle cells are ''calorie hungry'' while fat cells do not require many calories to function. The more muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolic rate.

There are three types of muscle tissue - smooth, cardiac, and skeletal. Smooth muscles are the muscles of your intestines, blood vessels and other organs. Cardiac muscles are only found in your heart. Skeletal muscles are the muscles attached to your bones. Since you cannot change the amount of smooth or cardiac muscles you have, the only practical way to increase your metabolic rate would be to increase your skeletal muscle mass. This is achieved by lifting weights.

Muscle size decreases with age.
Experts think that one of the reasons that people gain weight faster as they get older is that they lose muscle mass at the rate of half a pound for every year starting from the age of 25 if they don't exercise. Since muscle is a calorie burning tissue, every pound of muscle lost will result in a decrease of approximately 30 to 50 calories per day. It's not surprising then to hear people complain that they are eating the same amounts of food as when they were younger but are continuing to see the pounds creeping up. They are burning fewer calories because their muscles have become smaller. Calories that are not burned are stored as fat. The muscle mass in the body decreases while the fat mass increases.

Lack of exercise to blame for muscle loss.
Muscle that is not used atrophies or shrinks. A dramatic example of this is seen in the affected limb of a polio victim. The muscle is shrunken because it is no longer functioning. Of course, muscle atrophy due to lack of exercise as one gets older doesn't happen overnight so the damage is not noticeable until a decade later the individual discovers that he or she is ''suddenly'' fifteen pounds heavier.

Weight lifting prevents muscle loss.
Aerobic-type workouts are great for burning calories and increasing the efficiency of the heart, but don't do much for building muscle mass. Lifting weights is the best way to prevent muscles from getting too small. It will not only prevent more muscle loss but it can also reverse the process by building up muscle that has already been lost so you will burn more calories throughout the whole day. Your body becomes like a car that has the same frame but a bigger engine.

In addition, that's not all that lifting weights will do for you. It will also improve your posture, prevent osteoporosis (bone brittleness), increase your strength, and tighten your muscles to transform you into a shapelier, slimmer you.

Different kinds of weight lifting equipment.
Dumbbells and barbells are not the only type of weights you can lift. Resistance comes in many forms. There is rubber resistance like surgical tubing and wide rubber bands made especially for exercise, which are quite practical when you travel since they weigh very little. There are machines with cables attached to metal stacks of weight. Your own body is a form of resistance when used in exercises like push-ups and abdominal exercises. Exercise done in water is a form of weight training because the water creates resistance.

Weight lifting guidelines to lose weight.

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