When we hit the gym for weight, trainers always make us run on that treadmill like a horse. And due to lack of knowledge, we follow those so-called fitness experts without even questioning them. Result – a saggy body and muscle soreness. But if you talk to the who’s and who of the fitness universe, you will get to know that this is an absolutely wrong technique to lose weight. That’s because according to them, strength training is more important than cardio.
When thinking of the best ways to break into a sweat, get active, sculpt, tone and lose weight, most people first turn to cardio workouts. Strength training often sounds daunting, especially if not guided by an expert. However, there is increasing awareness and scientific evidence of the lifelong benefits and importance of strength training. Moreover, there are workouts that deliver strength training in easy ways, using light weights (1-4 kgs), isometric holds, and your own body weight for resistance, rather than complex equipment and intimidating heavy weights.
Strength training is critical to fat burning, bone density, posture, balance, and endurance.
There are a few things that strength training can help you achieve that cardio workouts cannot. First of all, there’s a misconception that intense aerobic workouts are the only way to lose weight. While aerobic workouts are important for calorie burn, these workouts first turn to your body’s carbohydrate stores for fuel, as opposed to your fat stores.
Conversely, strength training routines combined with light cardio puts your heart rate into a fat-burning zone. Additionally, strength training routines focus on building muscle, which ultimately burns more calories throughout the day, even at rest.
So, in addition to burning calories from fat during your workout, you are also sculpting your muscles, which in turn, continue to burn fat after your workout, increasing your overall effectiveness in losing fat and unwanted inches.
“As I’ve already addressed the benefits of strength training on toning, I want to focus here on how strength training helps build endurance. Endurance is closely linked to bone health, and another benefit of building strength and sculpting muscle, which we may not think about immediately, is its impact on bone health,” says Ms Parekh.
Even if you’re not a fitness enthusiast, it’s not enough to simply fulfill a certain number of steps every day.
The muscles you build through strength training helps to support your joints and bones. After the age range of 30-35, we begin to experience changes in our musculoskeletal health, including breaking down bone faster than we build it, and losing lean muscle mass with age
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Strength training helps to slow and reverse this process, when it comes to both bone strength and muscle tone. Bones react by adapting to the stress that is put on them through strength training, and begin to build more bone strength, thereby increasing bone density. Muscles, even with light weights, build and support our bones and joints, so that we can maintain overall agility, coordination and balance with age.
Another important role strength training plays in our aging process and our current way of life is posture.
The only way to maintain or improve our posture is to do targeted resistance exercises that force us to build strength in our core, all the way from our hips to the base of our necks in both the front and back of our bodies. All these muscles play a big role in improving our posture, and cardio exercises alone won’t pay much attention to these muscle groups.
Maintaining posture helps us fight gravity and avoid other aches and pains that present later in life, but also aids in autonomic functions like breathing and digestion.
While the sheer variety of moves you can do to build strength can seem overwhelming, it’s important to remember that research shows us that the impact of lifting light weights can be the same as lifting heavy weights. The objective is not the quantum of weight, but taking your muscles to a point of fatigue.
“If you accomplish this through light weights by increasing your number of repetitions, you can experience the same muscle building benefits with little to no equipment and in the comfort of your own home. Additionally, this type of low weight, high-repetition strength training helps us with endurance, which is more applicable to our daily lifestyle activities,” concludes Ms Parekh.