My first post on this topic was all about food so if you missed that one, be sure to check it out here. Today though, the second component I want to discuss is strength training, aka resistance training aka weight training.
2) Strength Training
Once you've figured out the food component of reaching and maintaining a healthy weight, you now have to put in some work to burn calories and build muscle. You do this by regularly participating in a strength training regimen. Strength training is important to a healthy weight for a few reasons.
First, strength training increases your metabolism by increasing the amount of muscle mass on your body. To keep it simple, muscle burns more calories than fat and the more muscle you have on your body, the more often you will have to eat to replace loss calories which results in an increased metabolism. Even more plainly, a high metabolism means that your body uses or burns calories more often and efficiently than a slower metabolism. The result is that there are fewer calories to hang around (as fat).
Secondly, strength training itself is a high intensity exercise that burns plenty of calories. A 200 lb. person can expect to burn around 350 calories every 1/2 hour while performing exercises like squats, push-ups, dumbbell exercises, machine weight exercises, etc. If you do the math, just 4 days of strength training for 30 minutes will burn 1400 calories. This amount of calorie burn can go a long way when trying to lose or maintain healthy weight. On the opposite end of losing weight, strength training is especially important when trying to increase your weight. Muscle is far more dense than fat and because of this fact many people incorrectly state that muscle weighs more than fat. The truth is that muscle takes up less space on the body than fat. This is why individuals with lower body fat appear to weigh less to the naked eye. In order to gain healthy weight, you must add muscle to your body instead of fat.
Lastly, regular strength training keeps you at a healthy body fat percentage. A healthy body fat percentage means that you have the correct balance of fat and muscle. Overweight and obese individuals generally will have higher body fat percentages meaning they carry too much fat. Underweight individuals will have body fat percentages that are too low which means they do not have enough body fat. To see what the healthy ranges for body fat are, check out this chart.
If you want a simple but challenging strength training workout, check out my Workout Wednesday Volume 2 post. Remember, always warm up before a workout. Part 3 of this series will be coming soon so stay tuned.