Among all the benefits of exercise, burning fat is one of the most sought-after exercise goals. Burning fat is commonly associated with cardio workouts, but do not be misled, resistance training can be equally effective.
Resistance training helps you burn fat directly and indirectly.
Directly, resistance training, also called strength training, can burn approximately 250 calories during a vigorous 30 minute workout. Of the approximate 250 calories burned, about half of them (125) will be from fat.
Indirectly, resistance training helps the body burn fat by eliciting the release of natural hormones such as human growth hormone and testosterone. These hormones play a large role in muscle hypertrophy (growth) and strength gained as a result of resistance exercise.
When muscle hypertrophy and strength increases, the body’s ability to burn calories increases due to the metabolically active nature of muscle. This means that the more muscle you have, the more calories your body needs to maintain its muscle since muscle tissue requires a lot of energy (calories) to perform work. Thus, the added calorie demand comes from burning more fat.
Think of muscles like engines. A V8 engine in a powerful sports car can burn fuel much faster than a 4 cylinder engine in the same car. If both cars travel the same distance, the V8 engine will burn more fuel.
The same is true with muscle. If two people walk the same distance, the person with more muscle (higher metabolic activity) will burn more total calories and fat calories.
In summary, resistance training will help you burn fat in two predominant ways;
1. Directly through calorie burning that occurs during the vigorous workout. About half the calories burned during resistance training come from fat.
2. Indirectly through hormone release and concurrent muscle and strength building, which promote an elevation in the body’s metabolic activity during everyday living. Plus, this indirect benefit of increasing muscle has been shown to give strength training a longer lasting effect to keep the body leaner than typical cardio workouts such as running. (According to a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research).