Lift weights to make a huge difference to your body composition. You will build more lean muscle and burn excess fat, giving you a toned and sleek shape and it’s easy to do.
You won’t bulk up (unless you want to).
Building big muscles is no easy task. There are a lot of training and nutritional rules to follow. If you want to gain muscle mass, you need to create a calorie surplus, eat a higher proportion of protein, and progressively overload your muscles to stimulate muscle hypertrophy (growth). It is also easier if you are male, as the higher levels of testosterone mean you will build muscle easier.
Lift weights to be stronger, not bigger.
If your goal is to improve lean muscle mass and reduce body fat, then a simple tweak to the rules is all it takes.
You will still lift weights to build lean muscle mass and you will increase your protein intake to aid muscle recovery.
You need to create a slight calorie deficit or eat maintenance calories to burn fat.
A slight calorie deficit. You need to eat enough and you need to eat right.
If you have been following a more traditional weight loss plan, you are likely creating a daily calorie deficit of -500kcal+. If you are exercising you are likely doing cardio in an effort to torch more calories each day.
This approach will burn fat and is great if you have a lot of body fat to lose.
Cardiovascular exercise is also fantastic for improving heart and lung health.
When you want to build muscle and lose fat together, this approach will not work, it can even sabotage your muscle-building efforts.
Creating a slight calorie deficit and increasing your protein intake within this deficit will encourage your body to retain muscle and use stored body fat for energy.
It’s a balancing act. If you deficit too much and do not get enough protein, you will lose muscle.
How do I balance my nutrition?
A slight calorie deficit means no more than 15%. This may not amount to many calories if you are at lower body weight.
Your protein intake should be increased from 1g per kg of body weight to 1.4g-1.6g per kg of body weight.
The additional calories required by protein can be taken from your carbohydrate intake.
How do I add weight lifting to my routine?
When you lift weights, you are actually causing a very small amount of damage to the muscle tissue. You then recover, feeding your body the protein-building blocks your body needs to create stronger muscle tissue. Next time you lift weights, your body is slightly stronger and over time, you can lift heavier weights for longer.
Recovery is when muscle is created. Make sure you include rest days. This means a clear break of at least 24 hours before working those muscles again.
Lifting weights is about challenging your muscles. You can opt to lift a heavier weight for less time or you can lift lighter weights for a longer time. If you are just starting out, you should opt for a lighter weight for longer. This is so you can learn how to lift weights with the correct form. The correct form means learning how to stabilise your body to reduce injury and work the correct muscles during each exercise.
Always research how to carry out an exercise with correct form to prevent injury and always practice it with lighter weights until you have built up strength in the muscles.
Once you have learned how to lift weights correctly, you can increase the weight to challenge your muscles more in less time, making sure that you can manage the weight safely.
Increasing the amount of weight you lift or increasing the duration of the exercise to challenge your muscles is progressive overload. This is what makes muscles stronger over time.
Why you should stop using the scales to measure your weight.
If you decide to add weight lifting to your exercise program, you may be disappointed to see the number on the scale creep down slowly. Sometimes it may even creep up.
You will, however, see your body shape change for the better. that is a much better indicator.
When you build muscle and reduce body fat, you add lean but heavy muscle tissue to your overall mass. It is therefore possible to remain the same weight, but lose inches from your frame.
Instead of measuring your weight, focus on measuring your inches with a tape measure, or use a biometric scale to figure out how much of your mass is body fat.
If you have been focusing on calories, this approach will feel strange.
For those of you who have been calorie counting and relying on cardio to bring down your total calories, this exercise and nutrition process is going to feel very different.
You will be able to eat more with more focus on what you eat.
Your workouts will likely be a shorter duration with less overall calorie burn, but more effective fat burn.
There are lots of tools out there to help you work out your calorie intake and macronutrient breakdown and there are great trainers in your local gym and online who can introduce you to lifting weights safely. If you do decide to give this approach a try, make sure you check in with your GP first if you have any health, injury, or diet-related conditions to make sure you are safe.