If you’re exercising to lose weight, you could be missing a trick by not doing the right type of exercise. Most people believe that cardiovascular activities i.e. running, aerobics, are the best way to lose weight.
Although it’s true that during the activity this type of exercise will burn the most calories, there is a way to increase your resting metabolic rate and burn more calories after exercise. Sounds good huh?
In the words of a well-known hair ad, ‘here comes the science bit…’
Muscles are the ‘power houses’ in our bodies. They require more energy to function than fat, and this energy is measured as calories burned. Metabolism is the term used to measure the energy (calories) burned over the day to keep our bodies functioning.
Now, the more muscle we have, the more calories we burn – even at rest. This is why men need more calories than women – they have a greater muscle mass and therefore a higher metabolism. Our aim, therefore, if we’re trying to lose weight, is to speed up our resting metabolism so we can keep on burning those calories when we’ve finished our workout, gone home and even when we’re asleep.
So, how do we do it? Simple, by increasing your muscle mass through resistance training with weights. Now, before you panic and say ‘but I don’t want to bulk up’, do it right and you won’t. As anyone who’s training to build alot of muscle will tell you, it’s actually pretty hard to ‘bulk up’ and alot depends on your body type, your diet and the type and frequency of your training.
Research shows that when we consume a very low calorie diet, we lose a proportionatley high amount of muscle and this could supress our metabolism by up to 45%. We should, therefore, make sure we’re consuming enough calories to burn fat, not muscle (at least 1200 per day) and build muscle through weight training.
For every 1lb of muscle gained, we burn around 50 calories more. Think less about losing actual scales weight and more about changing your body composition to lose fat and gain muscle. At the end of the day, if you can fit into a pair of size 10 jeans, would you really care what the scales say?
So, if you’re a member of a gym, have a chat to an instructor and ask them to put together a weights programme for you and take you through it safely. Doing weights, especially for women, can be pretty intimidating in gyms. Most places nowadays have corners with smaller weights in which, once you know what you’re doing and are comfortable with it are ideal when you get started. Machines are also good as they have clear diagrams and ‘how tos’ on them.
Don’t be afraid to ask the instructors for help at any time either if you get confused or forget how to do something. Most have done pretty extensive training to do their job and and will be more than happy to put it into practice!
Try to do some kind of resisitance exercise 1-2 times per week to start and, if you’re doing it effectively you should start to see your body change shape in 2 months or so. My next post will take you through some resistance exercises you can try and I’ll give options for things you can do at home too.