Body composition is a great way to understand if you are making forward progress or perhaps losing ground! It’s possible to still be the same weight you were 10 years ago and yet look far less “toned” due to a shift from muscle to fat.
Yes let’s be clear MUSCLE AND FAT weight the same.
No more of this muscle weighs less than fat none sense. Muscle takes up less space, much like a 10lb bowling ball compared to 10lbs of feathers, but they both still weight 10lbs.
I think this is an important distinction because I know there came a point in my own journey where I would actually see my weight increase from lifting weights and so I would stop. That was the opposite of what I was trying to accomplish, right?! Or not as I would learn over time.
Recently I posted an image of 8 different women who all weighed 130 lbs, but looked very different due to height, body shape and body composition. Here is another example, which I selected because both are public figures whose weight is known and I like that Laird is shorter and weighs more because it further proves that the scale is just one measure of health and fitness.
At at 30 Susan weighs 120lb’s feels strong and fit with 20% body fat.
Susan does not continue strength training, but maintains her weight. Unfortunately the laws of nature say women lose about 0.5lbs of muscle each year when it’s not being used. Thus at age 50 Susan happily still sees 120 on the scale but is now 28% body fat. At the same weight her clothes no longer fit, her resting metabolism has dropped meaning she has to consume far less to maintain that weight and she doesn’t feel as strong in her every day life.
If you are trying to maintain weight loss, then strength training needs to be part of your program.
Brendan Braizer has a great segment in the free Thrive Forward program about body composition. It mirrors much of what Carla at MizFit wrote about last week, if you focus on health then a healthy body will follow.
WEIGHT LIFTING AFTERBURN
For those who like me who were originally taught that time was more wisely spent on cardio where you can see a bigger immediate calorie burn…it’s time to get familiar with the after burn of resistance training!
A number of studies have shown that the average (not even advanced or intense) individual will see an increase of 8% in resting metabolism for up to 72 hours. What does that mean? Here is an example:
A woman who has an average RMR (resting metabolic rate) of 1500 calories per day spends 30 minutes on Monday strength training. Due to the afterburn her RMR is raised to 1620 for the next two days…then she strength trains again and keeps humming it at 1620. If she continues to eat 1500 calories that’s a pound of fat loss each month without cutting any food calories.
If you’ve been sticking to strictly cardio to see that immediate gratification of calories burned, just know that weight lifting will have a huge long term calorie burning impact. It’s not apples to apples if you are looking at 30 minutes of running and 30 minutes of lifting, but if you consider the after burn from lifting then both will get you where you are going!
I think most of you now agree with all the science that women can’t get big from lifting, so I’m sharing this because I’ve heard a lot of you say (just like I used to!!) that you don’t make time for lifting. If you are doing a consistent yoga practice I actually think that’s ok, but if running or walking or cardio is your only workout during the week find some time to work your strength as well…it will pay off in both the short and long run (haha pun intended).
In the Spring Challenge, I will be including a 3 day a week full body strength training plan so the cardio fiends out there like myself and ensure we are building strong, healthy, useful bodies!
Is strength training part of your weekly workouts? What has helped you to stick with it?
I am grateful for so many smart women who have helped me rethink the value of a number on the scale compared to feeling well and performing well.