Trainer’s Question of the Week: Is Strength Training Really Necessary?


I get this question alot, all from women.  And the answer is…YES!

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard female clients tell me they don’t want to bulk up, that they’re just trying to lose weight.  When they come to the gym, their workout consists of the elliptical machine.  Every. Day.

The problem with this type of workout exclusively, if you’re trying to lose weight, is this simple fact: Strength training added to cardio and a healthy diet burns way more fat than cardio and diet alone.   And, women do not possess the genetic make-up to become bulky through weight-lifting.  Lean and muscular, yes.  Bulky, NO!

It’s not so much about what you see on the scale–It’s about body composition.  And here’s why:  The more muscle you have, the more calories and fat you burn, 24 hours a day.  More muscle means a higher metabolism.  It takes more calories to feed muscle than fat.  Your body is the engine.  More lean muscle tissue gives you a larger engine.  A larger engine requires more fuel, and thus burns more calories and fat.   With regular strength training, you’ll burn off the fat covering your muscles, leaving a toned, defined physique in its place.

You’ll burn a good amount of calories after an hour of jogging on the treadmill.  But when the cardio workout is over, so is the calorie burn.  Cardio, combined with a healthy diet, will shrink you down, but it will shrink down your muscle too.  Strength training helps you retain your muscle and just shrink down the fat.  You can be skinny, but if you don’t have alot of muscle, you’ll still look flabby and soft, not to mention you’ll be less healthy.

Now, that’s not to say cardio is not important.  It is extremely important for improving cardiovascular health, as well as losing weight and burning off excess fat.  But cardio alone is not sufficient for building your body’s percentage of lean muscle mass and improving your body composition.  And that’s what we want.

So if you are serious about losing weight and/or gaining optimal health, try to add a strength training routine to your workouts.  Whether it’s  lifting at the gym with machines, or at home with dumbells and your own body weight, work each muscle group approximately 3X/week on non-consecutive days for a slimmer, leaner, stronger you.


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