When people want to lose weight, they generally begin by thinking about diet and exercise. While we all know that cutting out fatty foods and sugar is one easy way to improve our health, when it comes to exercise, many people don’t know where to start and automatically turn to cardio. And while walking, running and bike riding are great examples of cardio that will get your heart pumping, few people know that lifting heavy weights can also contribute to weight loss and the development of lean muscle through several mechanisms.
Here are 5 ways lifting weights will help you lose weight:
Increased Metabolic Rate
Resistance training, including lifting heavy weights, can increase your metabolic rate. When you perform intense exercises, especially those involving large muscle groups, your body needs to expend more energy both during the exercise itself and during the recovery process. This increased energy expenditure can help boost your overall metabolic rate, leading to more calories burned throughout the day.
Muscle Growth and Maintenance
Lifting heavy weights stimulates muscle hypertrophy, which is the process of increasing the size and strength of your muscles. Building and maintaining muscle mass is important for weight loss because muscle tissue is metabolically active and requires more energy to sustain compared to fat tissue. Therefore, the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn at rest. This can contribute to a higher basal metabolic rate and potentially increase your overall calorie expenditure.
High-intensity weightlifting can trigger an “afterburn effect” known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). After intense exercise, your body needs to replenish energy stores, repair damaged tissues, and restore various physiological functions. This process requires additional oxygen, which leads to an increased calorie burn even after you’ve finished your workout. The afterburn effect lasts for several hours and can even last for up to 24-48 hours, depending on the intensity and duration of the exercise.
Improved Insulin Sensitivity
Heavy weightlifting has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels, and when your body becomes more sensitive to insulin, it can utilize glucose more efficiently. This can help prevent excess glucose from being stored as fat and may promote weight loss.
Increased Fat Oxidation
Lifting heavy weights can enhance your body’s ability to oxidize fat for fuel. It has been observed that resistance training can lead to an increase in the enzymes responsible for fat oxidation. This means that during and after weightlifting sessions, your body can more effectively utilize stored fat as an energy source.
As we discussed, heavy weightlifting can contribute to weight loss and the development of lean muscle, however, diet and overall calorie balance play crucial roles as well. Consulting with a qualified fitness professional or healthcare provider can help you design an appropriate exercise and nutrition plan tailored to your specific goals and needs.