18 April 2008

Why You Need to Add Strength Training to Your Workout

Don't you just love counting calories? I know, I hate it too, but it is an important part of any lifestyle devoted to staying fit. Dieting is only part of the equation when trying to lose weight. You must also adhere to some sort of exercise program, which includes both weight training and cardio workouts. Why must I do both? Well, you CAN get away with doing only one or the other, but if you REALLY want to lose weight, and lose it quickly, you need to include both in your weight loss regimen.

Remember when you were in the fifth grade and you started doing word problems in math? Do you recall the problem: which weighed more, a pound of feathers or a pound of iron? The answer is that they both weigh the same. Yes, it's a trick question , but one that I bring up for a reason. There is another trick question on the fitness horizon which deals with muscle and fat. Which weighs more, a pound of muscle or a pound of fat? Well, the answer is the same as in the feather and iron question, they both weigh the same. This question should address density, not weight.photo of fat and muscle
A pound of muscle is much more dense then a pound of fat. This means that it takes up less space, is much more concentrated in the space it occupies, and it looks better. For example, if you take 5 pounds of fat and 5 pounds of muscle and place them side by side, you will notice that the fat, as compared to the muscle, takes up a great deal of space. Imagine this on your body. That extra 5 pounds of fat could easily add 1-2 inches, if not more, to your waistline.

Now, I brought all this up to help explain a point. It takes your body more energy to maintain your muscle mass, than it does fat mass. Why is this important? When your body expends energy, we call that CALORIES. This means that the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you will burn.

As you begin your weight training routine, you will begin to lose fat but you will also begin to build muscle. As you weigh yourself, you will start to notice that some days you have actually gained weight. Don't be alarmed, this is only natural. Yes, you will be losing fat, but you will also be gaining muscle mass. This extra muscle mass will not only look good on you, but it will also help to burn even more calories to help you get rid of the fat. My advice, start with the two largest muscle masses: the legs (quadriceps) and the upper back (trapezius).

The magic number is 3500. That is the number of calories that you need to burn in order to lose 1 pound. This is done by using a combination of REDUCING your caloric intake and INCREASING the amount of calories you expend each day. Since the body uses more calories to maintain your muscle mass, you will continue to expend calories hours after your workout has finished. After all, isn't that the goal anyway?

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