You Should Lose Weight Before Adding Strength Training, Really?
At a recent family and friends gathering in a local park, as I made my way over to the grill to put salmon on it, I overheard these words, “…no no no, you should lose weight first, then focus on weight and toning.”
Have you ever had that moment when you are horrified by advice that is being shared, but do not feel it is your place to make a correction? Or you second guess what you know to be true? Well, a combination of both happened to me in that moment. I did not hear the whole conversation, but I heard that as clear as day, froze for a few seconds, then kept my peace.
Preparation for Setting the Record Straight on Strength Training
But if I have readers who are of this same understanding or, worse yet, if I have readers who are boldly sharing such information, it would be irresponsible of me to keep quiet on the subject of you should lose weight before adding strength training. Hence, the purpose of this post is to let you know that your weight loss is aided by strength training. More on that in a moment.
Now, it is true that I am not a fitness instructor or a personal trainer. I am, however, a student of those who I consider to be masters (Shaun T and Gail Williams) in these fields, and I am a walking byproduct of amazing results of using cardio, strength training, and good nutrition at the same time.
Possible Reasons for Believing in Weight Loss Before Strength Training
Before I dive into the subject matter, let me first share reasons why I believe someone would be of the mindset that you should aim to lose weight before you strength train.
Belief that Muscle Weighs More than Fat
I have heard people say this and I have read where people have suggested this as a way for people to not be discouraged if they gained weight. For anyone nodding their head in agreement, know this: a pound of muscle is the same as a pound of fat, a pound. Yes, muscle most definitely does not weigh more than fat. Muscle, however, is more dense than fat. Thus, a pound of muscle takes up less physical space than does a pound of fat. Muscle also benefits weight loss, but more on that in a moment.
Fear of Muscle Bulk
As Serena Williams was nearing achieving what is now called the Serena Slam, and even more so after she won Wimbledon, horrible and completely irresponsible articles were written about her size and her power. There were comments such as, “She is built like a man.” I had thought such ideology had gone in the late 80s and early 90s, but it is still very evident that people fear bulking up with strength training. This is especially a fear held by women. Serena will be the first to tell you that that is her natural physique and I am here to tell you ladies that unless you are on steroids, you will not bulk up like men from weight training.
Solely Focused on the Number on Scale
The goal is to lose weight. Those who believe that muscle weighs more than fat may shy away from weight training because they fear that it might bulk them up, increasing the number on the scale. Hence, this makes the idea of losing weight before adding in strength training seem plausible to them. As a side note, your clothes are a great measure of weight loss success. Keep reading to see what I mean.
Reasons to Include Strength Training for Weight Loss
Now that I have touched upon why I think people believe that one should lose weight before adding strength training to their weight loss goal, I will share why strength training should be a part of your weight loss regime from the start.
Eliminates Confusion of When to Start Strength Training
What is the start strength training threshold? Is it at five pounds of weight loss, 10 pounds, 25 pounds, when you have reached your weight loss goal? My plan, before experiencing a different body composition from strength training, was to lose 85 pounds. I can only imagine the hot flabby mess I would have been had I waited until I lost all that weight. Working to lose all that flab afterwards seems to me like extra unnecessary work. It only makes sense then to do the strength training from the start.
Muscle Burns More Calories than Fat
Recall that it was false that muscle does not weigh more than fat. Here is something that is true about muscle: a pound of muscle burns more fat than a pound of fat. Long after you finish working out, muscle is still working to burn calories. If you only do cardio you are losing muscle, thus depleting your calorie burning machine that helps you lose weight.
Changes Body Composition
Back in 2000 when I lost weight, which I maintained for six to seven years, I was wearing the same size I am wearing today. Here is why that is important. Currently, after losing 75 pounds with the aid of cardio, strength training, and good nutrition, I am 10 pounds heavier today, but I am wearing the same size as then because my body composition is different. Remember that muscle takes up less physical space than fat? The difference is the strength training. My body fat percentage decreased along with my body measurements. So as my body fat percentage decreased, so did the physical space that my body took up.
Improves Strength and Protects Bones
One method that I use for cardio is running. Years ago when I was training for half marathons and marathons I was constantly injured. If it was not my shins that hurt, it was my hips. If it was not my hips, it was my knees. During this most recent weight loss journey, I have not suffered a single running injury. You only run away from danger, not on purpose you say? Still consider strength training because it increases bone density and reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
Do Not Wait to Add Strength Training
Armed with this information, if you were waiting until you lost weight to start adding weight to your workout plan, squash that idea. Start adding strength training today to allow muscle to change your body composition, protect your bones, and to help you to your ultimate goal of losing weight.