Strength Training - Strong Muscles Build Faster Metabolism

By Anne Mcdonald

There are many sound reasons for including a large element of strength training in your overall fitness program.

Strength training is sometimes referred to as resistance training because muscles and groups of muscles are isolated and worked against some form of resistance.

Sometimes the resistance takes the form of our own body weight, sometimes the fixed weights on the machines in the gym and sometimes free or hand held weights.

Use it or lose it
Having toned, active muscles means that they are functionally fit. This means that he everyday demands made of them such as lifting, bending and stretching can be met without fear of strain or injury. In our everyday lives we don't often have cause to use all our muscles to their maximum.

A good example is that we rarely need to lift weight above our heads. We design our homes and storage systems so that we don't often have to do that because it's difficult.

The result is that the muscles in our shoulders hardly ever have to work really hard and so become weak. So then our shoulder joints become vulnerable if we put any strain on them so we find even more ways to avoid using them.

Strong muscles build faster metabolism
Toned, active muscles demand far more of our calorific intake than inert muscle and stored body fat. The more lean muscle we have, the higher our metabolic rate which is the speed at which our body converts the food we eat into useable energy.

When we work our muscles, they grow to meet the demand we put upon them. If we work them regularly and keep them toned and active, we can, not only improve our metabolic rate but maintain it at that improved rate also.

If we encourage our body to develop a greater percentage of lean muscle by regularly working out with weights, we will need more calories to maintain the extra muscle. If at the same time we eat a healthy diet that contains fewer calories than we are used to, we will encourage our body to use our stored fat as fuel.

In fact the only really effective fat burning exercises are those used in a full body weight training workout.

If we try to lose weight by dieting alone without systematically working our muscles, we will certainly lose some lean muscle tissue as well as body fat. This will in turn result in lowered metabolism which will make losing weight and keeping it off more and more difficult.

Another important and desirable side effect of weight training is that recent observations suggest that strength training puts sufficient demands on our bones to encourage an increase in bone density. This is particularly useful for women who tend to lose bone density post menopause as oestrogen levels dwindle.

What to do and how to get started
The two main ways to workout with weights are to use the fixed weight machines at the gym or to use hand held weights at the gym or at home.

You get the best all round weight training workout using hand held weights. Because you're not strapped into a machine you have to use all your muscles to maintain your posture and balance whilst isolating the particular muscles you are working. If you learn to use a fit ball to help support yourself while using your weights you also get the opportunity to work all the core muscles of your torso at the same time.

Some reliable tips
You must learn the correct techniques involved in strength training and understand exactly what it is you are trying to do. You need a good program to follow, either one on one with a fitness professional or a program designed and illustrated by a fitness professional.
If you don't get it right it won't be effective and you could strain muscles and damage joints.

There are plenty of people in gyms up and down the country as you are reading this who are sweating away at their weight training workouts, using the wrong techniques and achieving absolutely nothing. Don't ever be tempted to try to learn from them.

The commonest mistake, usually for men, is to use weights that are far too heavy so that the only way to lift them is to put a strain on their backs or joints. They usually find that when they use the correct technique which is designed to protect their back and joints while isolating and working the muscle, they simply can't do it with that enormous weight anyway. Then they find that all that sweating and grunting they've been doing is quite unnecessary!

Many women on the other hand make the opposite mistake of doing their weight training exercises with weights that are way too small in the mistaken belief that they are much weaker and more delicate than they really are. If you regularly carry a couple or more of carrier bags of shopping weighing at least four kilos in one hand and a hefty toddler on the opposite hip, why on earth would you do your weights workout with a pair of one and a half kilo weights? This won't do you any good at all.

Follow a program that explains how to determine what weight you need for each exercise. Make sure that your weight training is part of an overall fitness program that includes cardio work, core strength and stretching. Add a good warm up and cool down and enjoy!

Anne McDonald has been a personal fitness trainer for the past 6 years and has more recently qualified as a life coach. As well as one on one training she operates her website providing fitness and weight loss programs for her online clients.
All her online programs come with her personal support and coaching if needed over the phone and by email.

You are welcome to use this article as long as you reproduce all of it and include this bio and link to her website.

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