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Many people successfully employ strength training as a method of achieving the maximum amount of weight loss. Strength training for weight loss can be done by itself or in conjunction with cardio exercise to burn a high number of calories both while exercising and while at rest after the workout. Also, aside from the possible metabolic benefits of building extra muscle, strength training in combination with cardio training will improve a person's overall fitness level and make her body look and feel healthier and perform better.
One of the most frequently used arguments for doing strength training for weight loss states that muscle mass burns more calories than fat mass. Therefore, every pound of muscle a person adds to her body with strength training increases the metabolism, causing her to burn extra calories even when sitting or sleeping. The amount of calories that one pound of muscle burns in one day is not easily agreed upon by fitness or medical professionals, but it may be significant. Weight training programs have been shown to increase metabolism by a significant percentage, so strength training for weight loss is commonly thought to be a viable option.
Another possible metabolic benefit of having more muscle on the body is that it may directly impact the number of calories a person burns following an intense exercise session. A weightlifting workout session might not burn as many calories as a cardio workout session, but it might temporarily raise a person's metabolism significantly and burn extra calories for a few hours after her workout, in a phenomenon known as exercise post-oxygen consumption (EPOC), or after-burn. After-burn, the true effects of which are somewhat disputed among the fitness community, can potentially burn as many or more calories than would have been burned during a normal cardio session, especially if a person's strength training workout was of a high intensity and lasted for a long time.
Strength training for weight loss can also have some psychological and motivational benefits. Having more muscle strength will likely make exercising easier and more enjoyable, so a person will be more likely to do it. Successfully pushing the body beyond its previous limits can be one of the biggest motivators for some people new to regular exercise, who often thought that dramatic physical improvement was nearly unattainable. Also, adding strength training to a weight loss plan can help minimize the effects of the slowed metabolism that normally results from losing weight with restricted calories and a workout plan that contains mostly cardio.
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