Strength training helps you lose weight (and body fat) in a few different ways. First, it helps you retain the muscle you have while eating a calorie deficit and losing weight.
Second, strength training has a much greater level of excess post-exercise oxygen consumption than aerobic exercise. What does this mean? When you finish a workout, your body needs to do a lot of work to replenish itself in order to bring itself back to a normal state (the way it was before you worked out). This takes a lot of energy, and some studies have shown that it can boost your metabolism for up to 38 hours after you finish your workout.
Not only that, but strength training can help increase your metabolism by speeding up your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). This is because it takes your body more calories to maintain muscle than it does to maintain fat. Estimates are that for every 1 lb of muscle you gain, your RMR goes up 30-50 calories!
Makes You Healthier: If you’re looking for a workout in which you get the biggest bang for your buck, strength training is it. Strength training increases bone density, builds a stronger heart, reduces your resting blood pressure, improves blood flow, halts muscle loss, helps control blood sugar, improves cholesterol levels, and improves your balance and coordination (turning you from this, to this).
You’ll Feel Better: Not only will you find yourself with more energy and confidence, less stress and anxiety, and a better overall mood, but you’ll actually begin to think better (resistance training has been proven to help increase cognitive function). And while training too close to bedtime can be a bad idea, exercising earlier in the day has been proven to help prevent sleep apnea and insomnia. I even improved my posture – when I started lifting, I was 5’4”. Now I’m 5’5.5”.
Prevents disease and degenerative conditions: Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women; Strength training helps correct issues relating to cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and inactivity – all factors for heart disease. Cardiologists are even starting to recommend strength training for people who have suffered a heart attack as little as three weeks after the attack. Who knows, maybe one day your cardiologist will tell you to do some “cardio” and he’ll be referring to strength training!
MRT – Metabolic Resistance Training
MRT, a.k.a. “metabolic resistance training,” might as well be called “madman training.” It’s no-holds-barred, haul-ass, maximum-effort, build-muscle, heave-weight, torch-fat, absolutely insane huff-n-puff training. It’ll spike your metabolism, crush calories like beer cans, lift your lactate threshold, boost your ability to make muscle, and maximize your body’s capacity for change.
Whew! I’m winded just rattling off MRT’s many benefits.
No magic here – MRT is just a term covering various combinations of intense, efficient cardiovascular and muscular training. MRT can involve supersets, circuits, speed, low rest and compound movements; it almost always packs a double-punch of aerobic and anaerobic work, breaking down barriers between traditional weight training and cardio. If you’re sick of long rest periods and the sleepy treadmill slump, MRT might be for you.
MRT works by heightening the metabolic “cost” of exercise. This might sound geeky… until you try it. Whereas traditional resistance training might tap 25 or 30% of the body’s “change capacity,” MRT can maximize your potential for change and unleash metabolic forces that work all day and night.
By maximizing your body’s change capacity, you can improve 50% – not 25 or 30% – in only 6 weeks. Even better, MRT spreads improvement across multiple desired targets. Basically, when properly integrated into a periodized-training scheme, MRT can help you build muscle, burn fat and gain strength at the same time.
Energy expenditure over the course of an MRT workout can easily approach or exceed 600 calories, depending on the routine. Better yet, excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) increases dramatically. EPOC, often referred to as afterburn, measures the energy expended to return your body to its normal, resting state after a workout. Post-workout, your body uses an immense amount of energy to go from Mr. Huff-and-Puff back to Mr. Breathe-Normal. Considering that intense training can elevate EPOC for 38 hours or more9, the total number of calories burned quickly stacks.
In addition to stoking your body’s fat-burning fire, MRT can also enhance muscle growth. It does so by increasing your lactate threshold, the point at which lactic acid rapidly begins to accumulate in your muscles. Lactic acid build-up can interfere with muscle contraction, reducing your reps.
MRT counteracts lactic acid’s negative effects by improving your ability to buffer lactic acid and shuttle it out of muscle tissue. The upshot: a greater tolerance for high volumes of work, an important component for maximizing muscle growth. What does all this crazy crap mean? If you want to build muscle, consider using MRT for a brief mesocycle (2-6 weeks) before embarking on a longer, more traditional muscle-building routine.
SIT – Specialized Interval Training
What It Is and How It Works
SIT is a specialized form of interval training that involves short intervals of maximum intensity exercise separated by longer intervals of low to moderate intensity exercise. Because it involves briefly pushing yourself beyond the upper end of your aerobic exercise zone, it offers you several advantages that traditional steady-state exercise (where you keep your heart rate within your aerobic zone) can’t provide:
- SIT trains and conditions both your anaerobic and aerobic energy systems. You train your anaerobic system with brief, all-out efforts, like when you have to push to make it up a hill, sprint the last few hundred yards of a distance race, or run and hide from your spouse when they won’t stop nagging you about the dishes.
- SIT increases the amount of calories you burn during your exercise session and afterward because it increases the length of time it takes your body to recover from each exercise session.
- SIT causes metabolic adaptations that enable you to use more fat as fuel under a variety of conditions. This will improve your athletic endurance as well as your fat-burning potential.
- SIT appears to limit muscle loss that can occur with weight loss, in comparison to traditional steady-state cardio exercise of longer duration.
- To get the benefits SIT, you need to push yourself past the upper end of your aerobic zone and allow your body to replenish your anaerobic energy system during the recovery intervals.
The key element of SIT that makes it different from other forms of interval training is that the high intensity intervals involve maximum effort, not simply a higher heart rate. There are many different approaches to SIT, each involving different numbers of high and low intensity intervals, different levels of intensity during the low intensity intervals, different lengths of time for each interval, and different numbers of training sessions per week. If you want to use SIT to improve performance for a particular sport or activity, you’ll need to tailor your training program to the specific needs and demands of your activity.
General SIT Guidelines
- SIT is designed for people whose primary concerns are boosting overall cardiovascular fitness, endurance, and fat loss, without losing the muscle mass they already have.
- Before starting any SIT program, you should be able to exercise for at least 20-30 minutes at 70-85% of your estimated maximum heart rate, without exhausting yourself or having problems.
- Because SIT is physically demanding, it’s important to gradually build up your training program so that you don’t overdo it. (The sample training schedule below will safely introduce you to SIT over a period of eight weeks.)
- Always warm up and cool down for at least five minutes before and after each SIT session.
- Work as hard as you can during the high intensity intervals, until you feel the burning sensation in your muscles indicating that you have entered your anaerobic zone. Elite athletes can usually sustain maximum intensity exercise for three to five minutes before they have to slow down and recover, so don’t expect to work longer than that.
- Full recovery takes about four minutes for everyone, but you can shorten the recovery intervals if your high intensity intervals are also shorter and don’t completely exhaust your anaerobic energy system.
- If you experience any chest pain or breathing difficulties during your SIT workout, cool down immediately. (Don’t just stop or else blood can pool in your extremities and lightheadedness or faintness can occur.)
- If your heart rate does not drop back down to about 70% of your max during recovery intervals, you may need to shorten your work intervals and/or lengthen your recovery intervals.
- SIT (including the sample program below) is not for beginner exercisers or people with cardiovascular problems or risk factors. If you have cardiovascular problems or risk factors should NOT attempt SIT unless your doctor has specifically cleared you for this kind of exercise.
After completing this eight-week program, you can continue working to increase the number of work intervals per session, the duration of work intervals, or both.
You can adjust this training plan to accommodate your particular needs and goals. If you find that this schedule is either too difficult or too easy for your current fitness level, you can make adjustments to the duration and/or number of high intensity intervals as necessary. For example, if you want to train yourself for very short, frequent bursts of maximum intensity activity, your program could involve sprinting for 20 seconds and jogging/walking for 60 seconds, and repeating that 15-20 times per session.
You don’t need to swap all of your aerobic exercise for SIT to gain the benefits. A good balance, for example, might be two sessions of SIT per week, along with 1-2 sessions of steady-state aerobic exercise. As usual, moderation is the key to long-term success, so challenge yourself—but don’t drive yourself into the ground. Get ready to see major changes in your body and your fitness level!