Why Strength Training is Important for Fat Loss
Ladies, I have an announcement! You don’t need to slave away on the deadmill — oops, I meant treadmill — in order to lose body fat. Long-duration cardio has its benefits and should be included in a well-rounded fitness training routine. However, if your main goal is to lose excess body fat and actually keep it off long-term, then I recommend focusing the majority of your fitness routine on building muscle through strength training.
You may be surprised that building muscle can actually decrease the size of your body overall. How does this happen? Fancy-pants explanation: Muscles are metabolically active tissues. Regular pants explanation: Muscles are where your fat gets burned. Therefore, the more muscle you have, the more excess fat your body will burn off, even when you’re just chilling on the couch watching Netflix.
One issue with long-duration cardio is that during this type of exercise, your body doesn’t differentiate between what type of tissue it’s burning for energy. While on a run, your body may be burning some fat tissue for energy, but it also may be burning some of your muscle tissue for energy. If you regularly perform long-duration cardio exercise with minimal strength training, it’s likely that you have lost a significant amount of your muscle mass, and this is a problem because, remember, the more muscle you have, the more fat your body will burn.
Another reason I prefer strength training over long-duration cardio to decrease body fat is a magical thing called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). If it was socially acceptable to date a physiological response in the human body, then I would 100% call dibs on EPOC!
EPOC basically means that your body continues to burn calories for hours after you have stopped exercising, sometimes even up to 48 hours after, and it’s triggered by increasing intensity, not by increasing duration. Strength training requires you to work at a higher intensity than long-duration cardio, therefore there will be a greater EPOC effect after a strength training workout as opposed to a long run or session on the elliptical.
So, there you have it, two big reasons why I recommend focusing more on strength training to help decrease body fat. If you’re new to strength training, don’t be afraid to ask a personal trainer for some tips on proper form!