It has been suggested approximately 21% of the adult population participates in some sort of resistance training at least 2 days a week (Chevan, 2008). While the popularity of strength training has increased from the days of it’s seemingly “cult” fad (refer to Arnold’s Pumping Iron), there still lies a massive misconception that those trying to lose weight should NOT focus as much on resistance training. With more secondary information available than ever on health and fitness, it is important to dig down into the primary scholarly sources and identify of the necessity of resistance training for 31% of the population whom is categorized as obese (projected 51% of the population will be obese by 2030).
Resistance training is defined as “any type of training in which the body must move in some direction against some type of force that resists that movement” (Stoppani, 2006). Although this definition may appear basic at first sight, it is important to place emphasis on the “some type of force” piece. Too many of us relate resistance training to meatheads lifting heavy barbells and slamming weights around. We don't take into account that your own body weight can be used for resistance in addition to using bands, free weights like dumbbells or medicine balls.There are multiple types of resistance that can provide the stimulus needed to achieve the desired result that will assist with weight loss.
Such results are achieved through neural stimulation which causes the muscle to contract and when the muscle shortens and lengthens it creates microtears. Over time, hypertrophy (muscle growth) occurs and muscle becomes thicker and can move more weight (McArdle, Katch & Katch, 2010). As an individual increases lean mass, they burn more fat during rest and aerobic exercise. Furthermore, as a result of resistance training, daily energy levels adrenaline and other hormones (testosterone) increase (McArdle, Katch & Katch, 2010).
In conclusion, resistance training for weight loss should consist of large muscle group exercises (push, squat, pull, trunk, etc.). Repetitions should be 15-20, 2-3 sets of each exercise, preferably performed in a circuit format. It is encouraged that beginners with resistance training utilize cross training, integrating bouts of aerobic activity (walking, bicycle, elliptical, etc.) between resistance circuits to avoid accumulation of lactic acid, which can result in delayed onset muscle soreness. In practical terms, resistance training will increase lean mass that both assist with fat burn during your “cardio” days, and also keep the weight bearing joints strong to avoid injury during these “cardio” days. For assistance with understanding what your ideal resistance training circuit should look like based on your goals, please consult with one of our expert Exercise Physiologists at one of our convenient eleven Chicagoland locations.
Armstrong, N., & Van Mechelen, W. (Eds.). (2008). Paediatric exercise science and medicine. Oxford University Press.
Akabas, S., Lederman, S. A., & Moore, B. J. (Eds.). (2012). Textbook of obesity: Biological, psychological and cultural influences. John Wiley & Sons.
Chevan, J. (2008). Demographic determinants of participation in strength training activities among US adults. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 22(2), 553-558.
McArdle, W. D., Katch, F. I., & Katch, V. L. (2010). Exercise physiology: Nutrition, energy, and human performance. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Stoppani, J. (2006). Encyclopedia of muscle & strength. Human Kinetics.