When most people think of exercise and weight loss, they think of cardio exercises like running on the treadmill, Yoga or other activities that increase heart rate quickly. Traditionally, weight lifting has taken a back seat, especially with women.
Emerging research shows that weight lifting may in fact be the most effective form of exercise for those wishing to truly lose weight and change their body. Lifting weights has some obvious and not-so-obvious advantages.
Muscle Mass and Calorie Burn
Running and cardio do not improve muscle mass in the arms, chest or abs, and they don’t even do that much for the legs. The reason for this is that muscles only grow and get stronger and tougher when they are pushed to overload and failure. This will almost never happen on a treadmill.
Resistance training is the most effective way to push muscles to failure and overload, and a variety of exercises can work all muscle groups. This is the best way to get that sharp and toned physique and better strength.
Increased muscle mass is also the most effective way to burn calories. This is because larger and stronger muscles burn more calories just by existing. Workouts pay off in the long term when they result in increased muscles mass.
Since strength training also damages the muscles, prompting them to grow bigger and stronger, weight lifting exercises result in an after-effect of elevated metabolism and calorie burn that can last for up to 72 hours.
Weight lifting with bars and other equipment puts pressure and strain on more than just muscles. Your skeleton is also reacting to this resistance. Your body reacts to changes in pressure on your body and adapts your bones to different needs.
This is why astronauts in space risk losing bone density in zero gravity. It is also why weight lifting increases bone density. As your muscles grow, you will also need a stronger skeleton to support those muscles.
Increased bone density has a variety of benefits.
Most noticeably, stronger bones will be less prone to breaking or fracture. Stronger bones will also ward off common diseases like osteoporosis and help maintain strength and posture with age.
Emerging research has also shown positive effects on the brain. Vigorous exercise seems to stimulate brain cells and may even lead to the growth of new brain cells. The increase in blood flow and oxygenation in the body due to exercise also improves brain function.
This is why many people tend to do some of their best mental work after a physical workout and why activity breaks during the workday are important. Boosting the brain will have benefits on cognition and memory and it may help ward off dementia and disease like Alzheimer’s.
Toxicity and Health
Intense exercise that gets blood flowing and sweat glands working also has whole body benefits. Exercise and sweating are among the best ways to detoxify the body.
Toxins are released through the sweat glands, and getting more parts of the body moving and flowing with blood will happy to carry these toxins away.
Detoxifying is especially important in the modern world where we are exposed to more toxins on a daily basis than ever before. Natural detoxification transforms the body by improving all aspects of health, especially the health of organs and the skin.
In many ways, weight lifting is a superior form of exercise because it results in real physical changes to the body that have a long-lasting effect.
While it is important to keep the heart muscle strong with cardio, all other muscles benefit primarily from strength training. All research says that the secret for changing your body is found in the weight room.