When it comes to exercising for fat loss, cardio has been touted as supreme. Cardio is any exercise that gets your heart pumping for any extended period of time. Running, brisk walking, or playing tennis are examples of great cardio workouts.
Per minute, cardio generally burns more calories than weight lifting. But the effects of cardio aren’t long lasting. Weight lifting is by far more superior for long term fat loss and improved body composition.
Read on to learn why.
How Lifting Weights Burns Fat
Weight lifting, or strength training, is an anaerobic exercise, meaning it burns carbohydrates for energy and does not require oxygen (unlike aerobic). Strength training places your muscles under tension through lifting weights or using body weight to perform certain exercises. The longer your muscles are forced to work, the more you stimulate muscle growth.
Muscle growth is stimulated by the damage caused during strength training. After a tough workout session, your muscle tissue breaks down. That’s what you want. Because once the muscle tissue is broken down, your body works to repair it. It’s during this repair process that your body builds your muscles back stronger. Thus, resulting in more strength and muscle mass.
The Afterburn Effect
The afterburn effect, or excess post oxygen consumption (EPOC), describes the calorie burning effect that occurs after you perform an intense workout. After a tough workout, your body needs to repair itself. This repair process consumes more energy and oxygen, meaning your burning calories even after you work out. The more your body must repair itself, the more calories you burn.
The afterburn effect is greater after strength training workouts that require your body to repair muscle tissue. Depending on how much your body needs to repair itself, this effect can last up to 24 hours or longer. Cardio workouts, on the other hand, don’t create this afterburn effect as effectively. Cardio workouts such as brisk walking, jogging on a flat surface, or dancing, are not as exhaustive on your muscles. While you may burn calories while you’re doing cardio, the calorie burn stops as soon as you stop working out.
Strength training, however, burns calories far longer after your last rep.
Muscle Increases Your Metabolism
Your body composition has a lot to do with your resting metabolism. The more muscle you have versus fat tissue, the more calories you burn at rest. On average, one pound of muscle tissue burns anywhere between 7-10 calories per day. Fat tissue burns only 2-3 calories per day. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism.
Consistent strength training will help you build muscle over time, thus increasing your metabolism. Cardio exercise does very little to help you build muscle. In fact, doing too much cardio can cause your to lose muscle. A regular strength training program is more beneficial to fat loss long term than regular cardio workouts.
How To Increase Fat Burning During Strength Workout
For most people, a 30 minute weight lifting workout will burn anywhere from 90-126 calories. But the calories you burn is dependent on how heavy you’re lifting, what weight lifting exercise you’re doing, and how quickly you’re doing them. Lifting heavier weights will increase your calorie burn because you are forcing your body to work harder. Lifting heavy will also stimulate more muscle growth.
Larger muscle groups, like your quads and hamstrings, burn the most calories during strength training. Exercises like squats, deadlifts, and lunges will give you the most calorie burn in your workout. If you’re short on time and looking to blast calories quickly, include plenty of lower body exercises.
You’ll also burn more calories during your workout if you include compound exercises like deadlifts, squat-presses, push-ups, or pull-ups. Compound exercises burn more calories because they work multiple muscle groups at the same time. Deadlifts, for example, require you to not only engage your lower body, but you must also engage your back, core, and glutes. The more muscles engaged, the harder your body has to work.
And if you’re short on time and want to squeeze in a little cardio, try circuit training. Circuit training involves doing short circuits of 2-3 exercises back-to-back followed by a short rest. The idea is to complete the circuit quickly, take a short rest, then move on to the next round. Circuit training increases your heart rate more than resting in between each exercise. You’ll get a little bit of a cardio workout, meaning you’ll burn extra calories during your strength training workout.
Best Strength Equipment For Home Gym
Free weights, like dumbbells, are easier and less expensive to purchase for your home gym. Free weights are also superior to fitness machines for building muscle and athleticism. That’s because using free weights, like dumbbells, allows you greater range of motion. You can perform more exercises with dumbbells than you can on a stationary fitness machine. You’ll also work on your balance and engage more muscles. Dumbbells come in a variety of different weights and allow you to do a variety of different exercises.
A squat rack should be in every home gym, especially if you want to build lower body strength. A squat rack can assist you during squats and split squats. You can lift heavier with a squat rack because of the extra support. Your squat rack can also double as a bench press rack for working your upper body.
Barbells are necessary for use with a squat rack, but they can also be used on their own. Barbells are versatile. They can be used for training both your upper and lower body through a wide range of exercises. Barbells are made for use with weight plates which come in a wide range of weights for every strength level. Training with a barbell will help increase your strength and athleticism.
Kettlebells are classic strength training equipment found in most commercial gyms. They are affordable for a home gym and require about the same storage space as a dumbbell. A kettlebell can be used for most of the same exercises you would use dumbbells for. Kettlebells are used for the kettlebell swing, a full body exercise that doubles as cardio. Kettlebells help you build muscle and blast tons of calories at the same time.
Pull-ups are a functional strength training exercise that works your entire upper body. Pull-ups are superior for building strength and defining your back muscles. They’re also one of the most difficult exercises to perform. A pull-up bar or power tower has a relatively small footprint in a home gym. It provides a stable and safe way to do pull-ups. Many pull-up bars and power towers include a dip bar for doing triceps dips or leg raises. It’s versatile strength equipment for people of every fitness level.
More Benefits of Strength Training
Strength training is by far more effective for burning calories and fat than other forms of exercise. But strength training has many other benefits for your health and wellbeing. Strengthening your muscles puts you at less risk for injury. Strength training increases your strength, balance, and mobility of your tendons and ligaments. You’ll be less likely to fall or hurt yourself during daily activities like lifting or squatting.
Strength training is also beneficial for your mental health. Exercise decreases stress levels and increases endorphins, also known as the “feel good hormones.” You’ll get a mood boosting effect that extends well beyond your calorie afterburn effect. Plus, strength training helps to increase your confidence. When you continually push through challenges and plateaus, you become more confident in your ability. You will marvel at what your body can do and how much you can achieve. You’ll also feel better about your body as building lean muscle mass gives you a leaner, firmer, and shapelier appearance.
Strength training improves your overall health and decreases your risk of serious health conditions, especially as you age. You’ll live a longer, happier, and healthier life.
Cardio exercise for weight loss is a thing of the past. For long term, effective fat loss, you need to lift weights. Strength training builds muscle increases your metabolism, and helps you burn more calories even at rest. To be the leanest, most fit version of yourself, you must include strength training into your exercise routine.
People of all genders, age, or fitness levels can take up strength training. It’s one of the most effective exercises for building muscle and increasing athletic ability. And it can be done at home with basic home gym equipment. You don’t need a fancy gym or fancy fitness machines to get an effective workout. You can lose fat, increase your strength, and improve your appearance, all from your living room.