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When you think about weight lifting, you picture a tan bulky dude with a weird thong. The large muscles and high protein diet doesn’t give off the impression of losing weight. However, contrary to traditional belief, weight lifting can help you lose weight more easily than cardio.
Weight Lifting and Cardio Combo
Duke University conducted a research study where they experimented with over 100 obese participants and divided them into three groups. They made one group do aerobics training, only cardiovascular exercises. Another group did weight training while the last group had to do a combination of cardiovascular exercises and weight training.
The groups were on their designated training routine for eight months without any other lifestyle changes. After the research period was over, the participants were measured on three metrics:
- Lean Mass or change in muscle mass
- Body Mass or change in weight
- Fat Mass or change in fat content of the body
The results may be as you expected. Groups that did only aerobics training and those that did both cardio and weight training lost significant weight and fat mass. On the other hand, groups that did only weight training and a combination of weight training and cardio saw a significant gain in lean mass. However, the results also tell us that those who lost weight only due to cardio training were more likely to put on weight compared to those who did weight training and a combination of both. But what’s the reason?
Resting Metabolic Rate
The group that was exclusively on cardio training is more likely to gain weight in the future due to their Resting Metabolic Rate. RMR is the rate of calories burned by your body when you aren’t doing any physically demanding activity. It’s the amount of energy used by your body when you are relaxing, watching television, lying down while reading a book, or doing nothing. Your lean mass is the most important factor that governs your RMR.
When you add muscle you increase your RMR or metabolic rate. The figures vary and some believe an added pound of muscle helps you burn 12 more calories while others believe the extra calorie burn to be around 70. Irrespective of the range, muscle mass has a big impact on your metabolic rate. So, when you lift weight and add muscle mass, you boost your metabolism and your body can burn more calories and lose weight even when you do nothing.
Impact of Cardio on RMR
Compared to weight training that positively affects your metabolic rate, cardio has a negative effect. Excessive cardio training can make your body enter the catabolic state where you burn muscle instead of fat or carbohydrate for energy. That means you lose muscle mass and end up lowering your RMR.
While you may burn more calories on the treadmill compared to lifting weights, the effect wears off as soon as you get off the machine. Moreover, cardio doesn’t add to your existing lean mass and doesn’t support it in any way. That’s why exclusive cardio training can do more harm than good. Instead, you should be on a regiment that has cardio and weight training.
Weight lifting exercises for losing weight
These exercises use more muscles compared to other exercises in this category. That means you burn a lot of calories during the exercises and a lot more when your muscles get repaired after the workout.
- Squats - Squats use your lower body muscles and also your back and abdominal muscles. For weights, you can add barbells, dumbbells, or kettlebells for better stimulation of your muscles and quicker results.
- Deadlifts - A deadlift is a dynamic weight training exercise that uses most major muscle groups including your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and the chain of your back muscles. Since it’s a full-body workout, your heart pumps out a lot more blood and the increased heart rate further aids in fat loss.
- Kettlebell Swings - Another weight lifting exercise that relies on full-body movement. It uses your glutes, legs, and core. Moreover, continuous motion helps you to burn a huge number of calories during exercise. A person over 100 pounds on the treadmill will burn around 200 calories in a minute. If you can do 22 kettlebell swings in a minute, you can burn twice that amount. So, it’s even better than cardio.
Compared to most other forms of training, weight training helps you build lean mass that affects your calorie-burning capability when you’re not on the gym or the track. That helps you to lose weight and keep it that way in the long run.