Almost every trainer will tell you to incorporate strength training into your workout routine. Strength training does a lot more for your body than just a leaner physique; it can strengthen your bones, help build better balance, and burn off calories. According to the American Cancer Society, “As you gain muscle, your body begins to burn calories more easily, making it easier to control your weight.” If you have less muscle, your body will have less mitochondria, an organelle in the body that is responsible for energy burning, and can result in a weakened metabolism.
Now, a new study published in PLOS Medicine concludes that lifting weights as few as twice a week can greatly benefit your body, specifically the waistline.
“This study was conducted to determine the relationship between resistance exercise and the risk of developing obesity, even after accounting for participation in aerobic exercise,” explained the researchers behind this study.
Typically, cardio exercises like jogging and jump roping are known to be fast-calorie burning exercises and are also known to prevent obesity. The study sought to determine if strength training alone can deliver these same results, independent of aerobic activity.
The study followed approximately 15,000 individuals between the ages of 18 and 89 who had participated in the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study (ACLS). These individuals recorded their exercise and lifestyle habits, weight, and any necessary medical history between 1987-2015. Additionally, participants were asked if they currently or had participated in any strength training programs “and if so, they reported their average frequency (days/week) and duration (minutes) of [weight training] at baseline.”
According to the study’s findings, people who weight train many times per week had a “20-30%” lower chance of getting fat later in life. These findings were consistent amongst all of the demographics observed in the study, including gender and age. Those who lifted for 1 to 2 hours per week had the “lowest chance of developing obesity”—”suggesting that additional amounts of [weightlifting] might not be necessary to help prevent obesity.”
Thus, the recommended amount of weight-lifting you should engage in should be 2 days per week, or about 1-2 hours a week. Incorporating strength training into your fitness routine can reap many benefits not only now, but in the future to avoid obesity.
As with all fitness practices, you do not need a lot of equipment or a lot of experience to incorporate strength training into your routine. Although you can use weights and other equipment in order to build muscle and tone your body, there are plenty of strength training exercises, like pushups or lunges, that only require body weight to provide resistance.