When it comes to losing weight, diet culture has altered the belief system of many and has led them to think that it’s all about doing loads of cardio and eating salad. And while that strategy might give you success for a certain amount of time – the one or two months you can last on it, it won’t turn into a long-term effect, and it won’t help you shed the extra pounds for good.
For lasting change to occur, you need to develop sustainable habits – ones that fit into your lifestyle, don’t present an impossible challenge, and that you’re willing to continue doing for the rest of your life. A healthy weight loss journey consists of learning proper nutrition, being moderately active, and strength training.
In this short piece, we will focus mainly on weightlifting for weight loss – how it helps, why it is important, and what beginners should do as they start to venture into this new journey. To make sure this article is as accurate as possible, it has been co-written with the help of our friends from Warm Body Cold Mind, who are experts in the world of weightlifting as former athletes and coaches.
Why Weight Training is Crucial for Weight Loss
Let’s first start by saying that cardio has many proven benefits for the body. Not only does it help you burn calories, but it also works the cardiovascular system and helps with long-term health and lung health. With that said, it’s not the be-all cure exercise for losing weight, especially for people who have never trained before. While cardio does help you be more active and burn more calories, it also makes you hungrier in return, which makes it more difficult to adhere to a specific calorie plan.
On the other hand, lifting weights can help you build muscle and strengthen your bones while also not stressing out your body as much and allowing it to absorb all the nutrients you get from your food. Older diet guidelines that include eating a lot less and doing cardio for hours lead to an increase in the body’s cortisol level – a stress hormone vital for regulating your metabolism and more often than not, a long journey of diet and cardio can start to backfire.
Additionally, over time, your muscles will start to work more efficiently, and so all of the nutrients you get will be used, as you need the fuel for recovery. As time goes on and you continue to build muscle, you’ll start to notice that you look better in your clothes, you’re more toned, and ultimately fitter, even if the number on the scale doesn’t change significantly.
That’s called changing your body’s composition – you’re losing fat while gaining muscle, but because muscles are incredibly dense, you don’t see such drastic changes on the scale. Furthermore, the more muscle mass you have, the more efficient your metabolism becomes, so you can essentially eat more food while not gaining weight because your body needs it to sustain itself.
How to Begin a Weight Loss Workout Regimen
If you’re a beginner trying to kickstart a weightlifting weight loss journey, then there are several basics you have to keep in mind as you design your workout program:
- Test Your Mobility – Before you start lifting, you must know what your body’s stability and mobility look like. To do the assessment, try holding a plank, sitting in a squat, and hanging on a bar; if you can’t hold your body in those places, then don’t add additional weight to those movements; keep working until you feel strong and mobile enough to perform them effortlessly.
- Work on the basics – Weightlifting has four fundamental movements you should be able to do before starting a weight training routine; those include push-ups, deadlifts, squats, and overhead rows. As a beginner, they should be the first things on your list to master before moving on to other, more complex exercises.
- Eat enough protein – This macronutrient is vital for muscle-building, and consuming enough of it is a must-do for anyone looking to become leaner and lose body fat. The consensus is that you should be eating 0.73 grams of protein per pound of body weight.
- Don’t forget cardio completely – Doing strength training doesn’t mean stepping on the treadmill again; in fact, it’s a good idea to incorporate cardio into your exercise program at least 2 times per week to ensure your heart and lungs are also getting a proper workout.
- Give your body recovery time – Gym junkies always focus on the “grind” and “pushing hard,” but the reality is that will just lead to extra stress in your daily life. You don’t have to push your body on days when it’s feeling tired and sore; instead, opt for a short walk, a yoga class, or some light stretching.
If you want to take a sustainable, safe, and working approach to long-term weight loss, then you need to incorporate weightlifting into your weekly exercise program. Contrary to popular belief, it won’t make you bulky or manly but will instead help you increase your metabolism and build much-needed muscle mass. By combining strength training, a healthy nutritional approach, and some cardio, you will quickly see your body transform as you shed the extra fat and tone your muscles.