Don’t be Afraid to Pump Some Iron

August 12, 2007 by  
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By Laura Pueschel

You’ve probably heard about the advantages of weight training (or strength training) as part of your weight loss program. But maybe you’re afraid that weight lifting will give you bulging muscles in places you don’t want them. If this is you, read on to find out how you can, and why you should, include weight training in your exercise routine.

First, if you’re worrying that lifting weights is going to make you “bulky” with muscles like those guys at the gym, STOP. Those guys (and ladies) spend hundreds upon hundreds of hours lifting massive amounts of weight to build those muscles to their maximum potential, and then they carefully control their diets so that their body fat remains low enough that each muscle is emphasized. If that’s your goal, that’s great, go for it. Most of us don’t have that kind of ambition, or that kind of time. Bodybuilding can be, and is in many cases, a full time job. Most of us would rather just work out 3 to 4 times a week for 30 to 60 minutes and be done with it. You’re not going to build any massive bulk working out that often, it’s just that simple. So don’t be afraid to lift some weight.

Adding weight training to whatever you’re already doing (even if it’s just watching your diet) is going to significantly accelerate the rate at which you get in shape. First, you’re going to burn calories while you train, probably 200-300 calories from a 30 minute workout. That helps, but the real advantage is this: weight training builds lean muscle. Adding lean muscle will help you get in shape faster because

1) Lean muscle burns calories

Muscle is a metabolically active tissue which means your body has to work to maintain it. Your metabolism burns calories to keep your muscle mass. This means that the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn even while you’re watching television or sleeping. So, adding just a few pounds of lean muscle will help you burn more calories and more fat even while you’re doing nothing.

2) Lean muscle makes you thinner.

If you’ve been lifting for a few weeks and you get on the scale to find you haven’t dropped a pound, don’t despair. Break out the measuring tape, chances are you’ve dropped some inches; in your waist, your hips, probably your upper arms. Even better, start measuring your body fat. Pick up some inexpensive body fat calipers and keep track of how much body fat you lose week to week. So even if your weight stays the same, if you’re losing body fat and gaining muscle, then you’re taking up less space.

So, try adding some weight to your workout. You don’t need a gym membership or a bunch of expensive equipment. Just grab some dumbbells and get started.

Laura Pueschel writes about healthy weight loss and sensible fitness for

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.

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