By Shana Daniels, 2002 Ms. Fitness California, B.S. Sports Science

In order to get that lean sculpted look that most people desire, we need to turn our bodies into “fat-burning machines”.  We can achieve this by doing weight training or resistance training to develop and maintain lean muscle mass, which burns more calories for us 24/7!

A very important fact to know is that a majority of our calories, especially fat calories, is burned in our muscles.  Muscles burn 37½ times more calories than our fat cells.  In fact, your muscles burn 50-90% of all of the calories used by the body and this fat burning continues even while you sleep!

Strength training for even 15-30 minutes two to four times a week will produce dramatic results in the composition, look and feel of your body.  When researchers investigated this phenomenon they were stunned by their findings.  They studied two groups of overweight men and women for eight weeks.  One group did only aerobic activity and the other did a combination of weight training and cardio for the same amount of time.  The first group lost an average of 3 pounds of fat and gained a ½ pound of muscle while the second group lost an average of 10 pounds of fat and gained 2 pounds of muscle in the same amount of time!  Talk about getting more “bang for your buck”!

Other research has shown that keeping rest periods to one minute or less between sets, almost doubles one’s metabolic rate when compared to resting for three minutes between sets with an identical workout.  While both workouts burn the same amount of calories during the routine, the one with the shorter rest periods produces almost twice the resting metabolic rate and calorie burn over the next day even. The reason for these dramatic results seems to be due to elevating your heart rate more, a quicker energy turnover, and greater hormone release.

You can increase your post-workout calorie burn and thus your resting metabolic rate by incorporating these techniques into your weight-training program:

   Try “descending sets” of 10, 10 & 10; 15, 15 & 15; or 20, 20 & 20.  You start with a weight that you can just complete a set of either 10, 15 or 20 reps with good form and then immediately drop the weight and do another set for the same reps and repeat one more time for a total of 3 sets.

•   Try “super sets” where you do two exercises for the same or opposing body parts in a row with little or no rest in between or “giant sets” where you group three or more exercises in a row.

   Try a circuit training routine using “moderate” weights in which you can perform just 8-12 reps with using proper form.

   Watch the clock so you know when your 30-60 second rest period is up.

   If you have a training partner rest only long enough for them to finish their set.

   Keep socializing to a minimum during your workout.  Try using an I-pod to keep you focused and save the chatting for after you’ve finished your routine.




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