More Muscle = Less Fat

We somehow still have it in our heads that weight training is unnecessary for fat loss and that cardiovascular exercise is what we need to do to lose weight. I hate to break it to you, but that's just plain wrong! Muscle tissue is more compact than fat (so takes up less space but is a bit heavier), has a higher metabolic rate than fat (so the more muscle you have th emore calories you burn even at rest), and is the first to go as we age (we lose 6 pounds of muscle mass every decade unless we lift weights to maintain it). To quote fitness professional Wayne Westcott writing in the Patriot Ledger,

"Let’s do the math. An adult who does not strength train is likely to lose six pounds of muscle and add 18 pounds of fat every decade. In terms of bodyweight (assessed accurately by the bathroom scale), this is a 12-pound change (18 pounds to 6 pounds); but with respect to body composition, (assessed accurately by laboratory techniques and reasonably well by the bathroom mirror), this is a 24-pound change (18 pounds plus 6 pounds).In other words, the bathroom scale offers only a half-truth, indicating a 12-pound problem when, in fact, there is a 24-pound problem."

This is a problem even for folks who are extremely fit cardiovascularly.

"Unfortunately, endurance exercise does not attenuate the muscle loss associated with aging. A University of Florida study of masters runners found that these aerobically active athletes lost five pounds of muscle over a 10-year period. In other words, standard modes of exercising do not productively address the underlying causes of fat gain, namely muscle loss and metabolic slowdown. While everyone should perform regular aerobic activity, it should be in conjunction with sensible strength training."

And all it takes is 20 minutes of strength training three times a week. Just one set of 8 repetitions of 10 different exercises!

"Our research with more than 1,600 study subjects averaged a three-pound muscle gain after 10 weeks of training for just 20 minutes per session. Our program participants performed one set (8 to 12 repetitions) of 10 weightmachines two or three days per week. This represents a modest amount of training time for a significant increase in muscle mass.

It makes sense from every perspective to perform regular strength exercise. In addition to reversing the muscle loss, metabolic slowdown and fat gain associated with the aging process, strength training reduces the risk of numerous degenerative diseases and disabilities. These include obesity, osteoporosis, arthritis, colon cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, unfavorable blood lipid profiles, low back pain and depression. These important health and fitness benefits, not to mention improved physical appearance and functional abilities, make strength training a must-do activity."

Tags: Weight Training, Weight Loss, senior fitness, Fitness News