In previous newsletters, we have highlighted both the importance of regular physical activity as well as emphasizing fat loss over weight loss. In other words, a key objective during weight loss is to reduce body fat while minimizing loss of fat-free mass (e.g., muscle mass) to promote optimal overall health, metabolic function, cardiovascular health, and physical functioning.
You see, the loss of fat-free mass (FFM) is a major contributor to a decreased metabolic rate, as FFM comprises the most metabolically active tissues of the body. What’s more, losing FFM also tends to predispose one to weight regain.
In addition, muscle mass is the primary site in the body to metabolize the carbs you eat. In other words, the more powerful the engine that you have to burn carbs as well as the bigger the tank that you have to store carbs in muscle—instead of fat.
The best way to build and maintain FFM, you ask? Strength training (particularly combined with optimal protein intake, which we’ve also discussed). As Dr. Wayne Westcott described in a recent article published in the scientific journal Current Sports Medicine Reports, “Resistance Training is Medicine.” Dr. Westcott, a professor from the Department of Exercise Science at Quincy College, reported the following benefits with resistance training:
- Increased FFM
- Decreased body fat
- Improved physical performance, movement control, and functional independence
- Improved cognitive abilities and self-esteem
- Improved carbohydrate tolerance and insulin sensitivity
- Reduced visceral fat
- Reduced resting blood pressure
- Lower “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides and higher “good” cholesterol
- Promotion of bone development and improved bone density
That’s quite a laundry list of benefits; unfortunately, many clients that we work with struggle to include strength training in their routine—most often due to time constraints.
We have just the remedy for you: Strength Training Express, which requires just 25 minutes of your time. The following template is one example of how you can do just that. You can implement a single workout like this from time to time, or you can build an entire training phase around your busy schedule using it.
- Choose one compound lower body exercise (e.g., squat, deadlift, or lunge variation) and one compound upper body exercise (e.g., pull-up, row, overhead press, bench press).
- Select a weight for each that you could lift a maximum of 8 – 12 times.
- Alternate between the two exercises, performing 5 – 6 repetitions of each doing as many sets as you can in 10 minutes.
- Rest only as long as needed between exercises.
- After a 5-minute break, you can choose two additional exercises and repeat. Or, you can stop with one “superset.”
Here’s an example workout:
A1. Barbell Squat (or Goblet Squat)
A2. Pullups (or Pulldowns or DB Bent-Over Rows)
B1. Barbell Lunges (or DB Lunges)
B2. Barbell Bench Press (or Pushups)
In a 10-minute block, you may be able to get 5 – 7 sets (each exercise) of 5 – 6 reps (per set) for a total volume of 25 – 42 reps (for each exercise).
We hope that you find this to be a helpful solution to including more strength training in your routine. Keep up the awesome work!