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How “heavy” lifting can protect muscle mass and help you lose weight

First of all, “heavy” is a relative term. We all start at different fitness levels. So, what we’re focusing here is “heavy” for YOU. The weights you select should be heavy enough to make you feel like it’s challenging you, but not too heavy that you can’t maintain good form.

Your body is an efficient well-oiled machine. When you’re trying to lose weight and cut down calories, your body will try to match the reduced calorie intake by slowing down your metabolism.  Effectively, when there’s a shortage of energy, your body will try to burn less.  When in a calories-restricted state, your body will look to drop some muscle tissue in its effort to “burn less”.  Why? Because muscle is energy-expensive, it burns a lot of energy even at rest!

But when you’re trying to lose weight, you want your body to be as fuel inefficient, and use as much energy as possible.  The ideal way to achieve this is to burn fat, while maintaining or increasing your muscle mass.  So how do you maintain or increase your muscle mass?

By lifting heavy! You need to give your body a good reason to keep your muscle mass. Lifting heavy weights require your muscle to be strong to keep up with the demand. So, your body has no choice but to main or even increase its mass!

Will I become too “bulky”?

The last point I want to make is that lifting weight isn’t going to make you bulky, actually progressively lifting heavier weights can help you build lean muscle mass.  Your muscle mass is like a furnace for burning calories. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn.  Even at rest, muscles burn about 20% more calories than fat.   

Having said that I went through a period where my husband warned me that my neck was disappearing and begged that I stop lifting so “heavy”. So, if lifting heavy weight doesn’t give women that “bulky” look, what does? Too much body fat.  That’s because fat accumulates on top of muscle.  A good analogy is putting on a jacket on top of your sweater during winter. The layers add up and you can end up looking bulky by the time you leave home, right?

So bottom line, if you’re eating to match what your body needs and lifting heavy weight, you will look lean and tone. Not bulky!

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