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The Importance of Strength Training

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Another great lecture that I attended at the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) was on strength training and how it is such a key component for weight loss and keeping the pounds off as we age.

I have several clients over 40 who complain about belly fat and extra weight gain they cannot take off. According to ACSM if you start weight training in your 20's or 30's and continued it you can avoid that weight gain. If you at least start it in your 40's you have a better chance of taking it off with strength training added to your workout regime than not. Here is why.

* Your resting metabolic rate (RMR) is the amount of calories you burn just being. So if you stayed in bed all day long and never got up this is the amount of calories you would burn. When you move and do things you burn extra calories and then when you workout, you really burn the calories.
* Dieting alone does not raise your RMR. Cardiovascular exercise is great because it burns calories which is what you need to stay heart healthy and lose weight, but a higher overall RMR is important in continued weight loss and keeping it off. Cardiovascular exercise can raise overall RMR slightly and even a little bit more if you are an endurance athlete, but in the scheme of things it is not the best way to raise RMR.
* Strength training is the one component that can significantly raise RMR. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories it takes to keep those muscles working. Muscle is constantly breaking down proteins, etc. and are never idle.
* One pound of fat burns 4-5 calories per day and one pound of muscle burns 30 calories per day. Again, the more muscle you have the higher your RMR and more calories you burn just being. Plus, after strength training studies show your RMR is elevated for at least three to four days.

As we age we lose muscle mass and our RMR lowers, so we began to gain weight. If you can keep your muscle mass and your RMR levels up, then weight gain is less likely. If you're trying to lose weight than strength training will help you build muscles and allow you to burn more calories. This and a well rounded healthy diet and cardiovascular exercise is the smart and healthy way to lose weight. Strive for strength training 2-3 days a week. 10-12 repetitions of 8-10 exercises working all major muscle groups is all you need to do.


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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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