You may have read how it’s important to build muscle in order to lose weight, but if you’re not sure exactly why building muscle so important, or how to do it, then we have the answers for you!
Why Do I Need To Build Muscle To Lose Weight?
Many people think that building muscle is only for body-builders, and women often dismiss lifting weights as just for men, however that’s really not the case. Women lack the testosterone to get bulky so don’t worry – training with weights won’t leave you bursting out of your shirt like the Incredible Hulk! Instead, weight training will tone your body - meaning less belly fat and leaner limbs. Building muscle will also increase your calorie burn for the future, meaning a more efficient body that’s able to burn calories even when you’re not working out.
The best way to understand how muscle works is by thinking of the muscle in your body as a raging fire that can quickly burn up the food you give to it. By comparison, the fat in your body has the spark of a lit match, so it takes much longer to burn any food you feed it. While muscles give us the metabolic ability to burn calories every time we move – whether we’re doing a class at the gym, shopping, or walking along the beach, the best thing about the muscles in your body is that they are constantly feeding on calories – imagine them like a growing teenage boy, always on the hunt for food! What that means is that even when you’re not moving – and yes, even when you’re asleep – the muscles are burning up the calories you consume; every pound of muscle burns between 50 and 150 calories per day just to sustain itself, while every pound of fat in your body feeds on 1 to 3 calories a day. Day after day, that’s a huge difference in your metabolic rate and your calorie burn.
When combined with a healthy diet, building muscle will increase your metabolic rate and enable your body to burn fat at a much faster rate, helping to counteract the natural decrease in metabolism as you get older. In addition, one pound of muscle takes up about 20% less space than a pound of fat, so if you were to lose 5 pounds of fat and gain 5 pounds of muscle, although you might be disappointed with your slow progress on the scale, you would still look slimmer, AND your body would be working harder to burn calories too, so the scale will soon catch up. Essentially, building muscle will help you to achieve a lean and toned appearance, meaning you’ll be on your way to your ideal body as well as your goal weight!
Why More Muscle Means More Weight Loss
Many people focus on the short-term objective of losing weight on the scale. They attempt to achieve this by crash dieting and burning calories through cardio such as running or cycling. However, the start of your weight loss journey should be seen as the start of a permanent change in your whole lifestyle rather than a short-term diet and exercise plan intended to help you lose x number of pounds. The exercise you do should focus on building a better body for the future so that you can burn calories more efficiently without having to do hours on the treadmill, which is far from sustainable in the long term.
When it comes to exercise, you should aim to start small and do as much as you can, always trying to keep things interesting and fun so that you’ll want to continue even when you’re at your goal weight. But, if you can, then incorporating some weight-bearing exercises into your routine can really help to give you the weight loss results and the body you want, both now and in the long term. Building a better body means less chance of regaining the weight you’ve lost, meaning you can avoid the typical yo-yo dieting cycle. Having more muscle mass doesn’t allow you free reign to eat what you like, but it does mean that your body is better able to burn off any extra calories that you might eat as a result of the slip ups we all have from time to time, so recovery is much easier as your body is more efficient at burning those extra calories.
So, Should I Forget The Cardio?
No way! Just as you will lose more weight with a combination of diet and exercise than with either alone; exercise should be comprised of both cardio and weight-bearing to offer you the best chance of weight loss, fat burning, and a healthier body. Cardio is a key component because it helps you burn calories all at once. Increasing your heart rate so that it reaches your target heart rate zone means that your blood is pumping, you’re breathing hard and burning calories. With cardio exercise, it’s also easy to increase your calorie burn with small changes; going faster, jumping higher, and going further are all changes that can help you burn more calories as it forces your body to work hard doing things it’s not used to doing. Cardio is also more fun for most people, and it’s something that you can do every day to contribute to your calorie burn and overall health. By comparison, strength training requires you to rest your muscles in order to help them recover and grow stronger.
How To Build Muscle
If you’re a member of a gym then ask an instructor to show you some basic moves to get you started. If you want to particularly focus on one part of your body, such as your abs or triceps then the instructor can point you towards the right machines and weights for you to start on, or show you some free moves you can do before hitting the elliptical machine, stationary bikes or running machine. If you prefer to exercise at home then get inspired by British mom Gemma Howden, who turned her home into a boot camp to lose an incredible 140lbs in 18 months! Gemma used tins of food and water bottles as weights and incorporated cardio and weight bearing exercises into her routine to make sure she was burning fat and building muscle. For inspiration on the moves you need to work certain muscles, check out our Facebook page for workout routines, or you can find many videos online to show you how to lift weights the right way to ensure that get the results you want and don’t injure yourself. However, our favorite way to build muscle has to be BodyPump classes, where you lift weights to music and concentrate on one muscle group at a time. BodyPump is a fun and effective way to work your whole body and gets you motivated so that even doing the dreaded lunges doesn’t seem so bad!
You don’t have to live in the gym to build muscle though; around 10 minutes three times per week is enough to get you on the right track to a better body and faster weight loss, so a few home workouts or a couple of BodyPump classes a week is plenty for you to see results much sooner than you’d think!
Eating the right foods can also help you to build muscle; protein is essential as it contains amino acids which allow your body to build lean muscle, and your body needs healthy carbs to have the strength to lift weights, so don’t think you can cut those out and still build muscle. And, as well as pumping iron, you should make sure you eat it too; without enough iron your body can’t get oxygen to your cells, which in turn slows down your metabolism. Good food sources of iron include lean red meat, chicken, fortified cereal and soy nuts. You should also make sure to get all your vitamins and minerals; without these, your body won’t be as efficient at converting the food you eat into lean muscle, even with all that weight-bearing exercise. Vitamin C is important as it speeds up muscle recovery, and magnesium helps to keep your muscles in peak condition. Both of these are included in Phen Vites, the premium multivitamin specifically designed to boost weight loss. Phen Vites also contain N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC), an amino acid found in protein which directly helps you to build muscle tissue, as well as chromium, which helps to increase muscle while reducing body fat. You should also be sure to get plenty of sleep and to take the time to relax and de-stress at the end of every day to help both your body and mind recover.
So, now you know how to build muscle to lose weight, you can incorporate some weight training into your exercise regime and turn your body into a lean, mean calorie-burning machine!