It may come as a surprise to some of you, but the fastest and most effective way to transform your body and ignite the fat burning process 24/7 is to strength train. You didn’t think you could get in shape only by running for hours and hours on a treadmill to nowhere, did you? Our goal with strength training, also known as anaerobic exercise, is to increase our muscular strength and to add as much lean shapely muscle to our bodies as we can.
And why do we want to add muscle? Well, it is attractive to look at, increases bone density (especially important as we age), and a muscular body burns far more calories at rest each day than a body with less muscle, raising our resting metabolic rate (RMR). This last fact is an enormously powerful secret to getting the body you want.
Just one more pound of muscle added to your body will require an extra 40-50 or so calories per day to keep it alive. Just think if you add 20 pounds of lean muscle tissue…you’re automatically burning an additional 800-1000 calories per day, just sitting on your behind watching TV or at work! And guess what happens when you’re burning more calories than you need to maintain your current bodyweight? You have a calorie deficit, and your body begins to shed fat.
In addition, the growth and repair process that occurs following properly conducted resistance exercise requires large amounts of stored energy in the form of calories. So know that you’re going to burn even more stored calories and fat to build your new strength and muscle. In fact, after your properly conducted resistance workout is over, your body will use its stored fat for the repair process.
This amounts to burning body fat like crazy, for up to 48 hours after your workout!
Another important concept to understand regarding strength training and muscle building is that as we age, we lose muscle naturally. Have you ever noticed that man or woman who is in good shape for most of their 20s and 30s but then starts to pack on the pounds in their 40s and up? It’s gradual, and before you know it, they look like they’ve gained 20 lbs of fat overnight!
Muscle deterioration is a huge, if not the biggest, part of this problem. Muscle deteriorates with age, and for every pound of muscle we lose, we are burning 40 less calories each day. Your metabolic rate is dropping, right now. Add that up over a period of years and you can see why packing on fat as we age is unfortunately very easy to do.
While we can’t prevent muscle deterioration, we can certainly combat it by adding as much lean muscle to our bodies as possible! That’s why training for strength and building lean and shapely muscle is the cornerstone of getting in your best shape for the rest of your life… and that’s why it’s the spark to igniting your fat burning furnace all day long.
In the realm of fitness, three-month programs dominate the landscape. You’ve even seen plenty of them in this magazine over the years. Are they effective? Absolutely. But we’re going to let you in on an interesting secret: It doesn’t necessary take eight or 12 weeks to get your feet wet in the gym. Not that you’ll be a seasoned vet after four weeks, but if you can just get that first month under your belt, you’ll get yourself over the proverbial hump where so many fail and give up, and set the stage for a lifetime of gains.
If you don’t want to look big and bulky…….
What’s that you say? You don’t want to be big and bulky like those bodybuilders?
Or maybe you do? I’ll let you in on a little secret. The only way you will achieve such musculature is if you are genetically pre-programmed to do so AND on a heavy dose of assorted steroids and growth hormone drugs. This is a harsh reality to swallow for those who aspire to win physique and bodybuilding contests.
Because we are taught at a young age that anything is possible if we put our minds to it, many still don’t believe this to be true. While you certainly should believe that you are capable of great things (and you are!), physical potential in regards to muscle building (just as in how many fat cells your body carries) is largely determined by your heritage and genetic makeup.
In fact, the single biggest factor in determining how much muscle you can add to your body and fat you can rid from your body is your genetic propensity to do so.
This is irrefutable. It’s the same reason you will never be as tall as Yao Ming, the 7’ 6” NBA player. Muscular potential and fat loss potential, as are all other genetic characteristics (hair and eye color, height, predispositions to disease, etc), are determined at birth.
Factors like the length of your muscles, where they attach at the joints, muscle fiber type, and tolerance to exercise all contribute to how much muscle and
strength you can build. In terms of body fat, the number of predetermined fat cells you were born with, skin thickness, and response to dietary manipulations play the major parts in achieving a low level of body fat. While a small percentage of men and even smaller percentage of women do have the requisite genetic makeup to achieve an unusual level of muscular development or extremely low single digit body fat levels naturally, this represents less than 1% of the world’s population.
It is that rare, and even more so with women. Also worth noting, is that most, if not all, of these people take anabolic steroids, human growth hormone, and other drugs in order to take their bodies to unnatural levels.
On another note, for the ladies, 99% of women lack the high testosterone levels that are also required to build loads upon loads of muscle. Compound that with the fact that adding lean muscle actually makes you smaller, as muscle is more compact that fat (it takes up less space), and you’ll begin to see that getting “bulky” from adding muscle is not likely.
If you do the math on that, that’s an average of 700 calories or so a day that you’ll be burning at rest just because you’ve got that new muscle. Amount of fat loss will be relative to how much fat you already have on your body. Obviously if you have more to lose, you can lose more! The only thing this type of muscle gain and fat loss will cause is a much more attractive body and confidence level. And if you do happen to be unusually gifted at gaining muscle or losing fat, consider yourself blessed. It’s easy to cut back and maintain a desired level. But if that was the case you probably wouldn’t be having any trouble getting in fantastic shape anyway.