Strength training benefits

untitledBy *Kelly Marshall MSc (Hons), BSc (Hons),Dip PT, NASM, SFS, IFS, CES

The most successful way to achieve long-term weight loss/control is to increase the lean muscle tissue on our bodies and this is best achieved through weight training.

Whether you train in a gym or at home, use bodyweight, resistance bands, dumbbells, barbells or machines, it doesn’t matter, as long as you tire the muscles so they adapt and strengthen.


How does weight training burn fat?


Muscle tissue is the most metabolically active part of our body and is extremely willing to adapt and change, (to our weight control advantage), if we prioritise it. Muscle tissue requires energy just to ‘be’ on our bodies, meaning it uses calories whether we are running, walking, standing, seating or sleeping (obviously the rate at which calories are burned is reflected by the intensity/demand the muscles are under at any given time).

If you compare our bodies to a car engine, an engine that revs at a higher rate uses more fuel and a body with more muscle tissue revs at a higher rate using more fuel (calories!). With muscle tissue, an individual, in turn, requires a greater calorie intake to maintain the muscle integrity, which means that a person has a higher metabolic rate or in weight loss terms, a higher threshold of calories they can consume before ‘over consuming’ for their needs with resulting weight gain.


The scientific truth


Muscle tissue burns up to 3 times as many calories as any other constituent and research indicates that by adding around half a kilogram of muscle, you will burn 250 extra calories a day (Source: Jorge Cruise, San-Diego Weight-loss specialist and author of 8 minutes in the morning).

A half a kilogram of muscle = 250 calories burned off in a day

A half a kilogram of fat = NOTHING burned

Multiply this by 365 days in a year and divide 3,500 (the number of calories in half a kilogram) = with this added muscle you will lose around 12 kilograms in just one year!


Best types of strength training


  • Focus on the main muscles groups – legs, chest, back, shoulders and abs. Aim to build up to exercises that involve as many muscle groups as possible.
  • Choose a variety of exercises – use different exercises for the same muscle group and use different methods of strength training.
  • Ensure you push yourself to failure – too often individuals short-change their muscle tone and metabolic advantage by keeping resistance too light for their capability or stopping before reaching fatigue. Pushing your muscles to achieve that muscular fatigue (burning, heavy) feeling burns more calories in the short-term and long-term and DOES NOT result in massive size enhancements!
  • Use a resistance whereby you can achieve a maximum of 15-20 repetitions.
  • Put exercises together in a circuit-style fashion and try to keep rest to a minimum.
  • Do it more than twice a week!

*Kelly Marshall is a UK fitness consultant who has conducted workshops at Westmead Fertility Centre. For more articles by Kelly, see

her website The Body Project.


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The truth about weight control

Yo-yo dieting dangers


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