Weight training to bulk up and treadmill to burn fat? If that’s your fitness mantra, think again. Exercise science has evolved and discovered that there is little truth to this myth. The fact is, everything you do—reading this, talking, driving, partying, exercising and even sleeping—burns calories. So you don’t really have to hop onto a treadmill to burn calories: you burn them anyway.
What matters, therefore, is how many calories you burn when you are not exercising (which includes all the sedentary stuff, too). Now, how many calories you burn when you rest depends on your body composition; more specifically, on your lean body weight. To put things simply, the more muscle you carry, the more calories you will burn for any activity, including sleeping or simply lazing around. Resting metabolism dominantly uses fat as a fuel or substrate to keep it going. So where does all this lead to?
Weight training, which involves resistance (bars, dumbbells, etc), strengthens muscle and bone tissue, boosts its size (hypertrophy) and increases lean body weight. A higher lean body weight contributes to accelerated fat-burning during rest, which is what we know as high bmr. To cut a long story short—the more the bulk of muscle, the lesser your body fat. So, does weight training make your body bulky? No. Instead, it makes you leaner by eating into your fat tissue.
Now, comes that tricky c-word—calories. Does weight training burn more calories than the treadmill? Yes it does, though your progress would depend on the intensity of training. So use the gym to exercise, not socialise! And here’s more good news—you continue to burn calories faster than normal for 36 to 48 hours after exercise. This is called ‘after burn’ or elevated resting metabolism. Weight training strengthens the heart and helps to lower blood pressure by improving pumping efficiency. But hey, don’t give up on the treadmill. It also burns calories and builds stamina, remember?
(A fortnightly column on nutrition and fitness by the best-selling author of Don’t Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight)