There was a time when treadmills were the busiest machines at the gym. With mini TVs on and headphones in, people—often women—would spend hours sweating off the pounds by running, sprinting or walking. But in recent years, the popularity of these once-revered machines has waned in favor of good, old-fashioned iron.
When it comes to weight loss, gaining muscle has become the new tactic, and for good reason. Weight training can actually boost weight loss and carve your ideal physique—while also making you stronger mentally and improving your overall sense of wellbeing.
You'll Lose 40 Percent More Fat1 of 8
Turns out you don't have to sweat it out on the treadmill for hours on end to burn fat. Lifting could be a more effective method.
Penn State researchers found that, when dieters were placed in three groups—no exercise, aerobic only and aerobic and weight training—they all lost the same amount of weight but lifters shed six more pounds of fat. Preserving muscle while shedding unwanted weight? Sign us up!
You'll Burn More Calories (Even When Resting)2 of 8
Cardio-based aerobic activity burns fat while you're exercising, but anaerobic activity like lifting burns fat long after you've left the gym. Thanks to excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), you'll burn calories hours later.
According to the Mayo Clinic , people with more muscle burn more calories, even at rest. That means that even when you're plopped on the couch channel surfing, the benefits of lifting are still paying off.
You'll Keep a Trim Tummy3 of 8
Weight lifting doesn't only benefit the young. In aging adults, weight lifting has been shown to help with healthy body composition and preserve muscle mass.
A study by the Harvard School of Public Health found that men who did 20 minutes of weight training daily had less of an increase in age-related abdominal fat than those who spent the same amount of time doing aerobic activities.
You'll Keep Your Body Guessing4 of 8
Sure, you can diversify cardio, but it's even easier to change up your lifting routine. From different body-part splits to longer time under tension and shorter rest periods, simple tweaks to your lifting program can keep your body guessing.
By constantly changing things up, you'll lower the risk of hitting a plateau and halting progress.
You'll Get Healthier from the Inside Out5 of 8
Sure, we'd all love to have a killer beach body, but the foundation of strength lies in bone health. As opposed to just helping you drop water weight, lifting helps you build stronger bones.
A study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that 16 weeks of resistance training increased hipbone density and elevated blood levels of osteocalcin—a marker of bone health—by 19 percent.
You'll Eat Better6 of 8
With all of the temptation out there, it's easy to fall off the healthy eating bandwagon. But it turns out that healthy habits foster each other. Lifting a few times a week could help spur better choices when it comes to fueling your body.
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found that overweight adults who didn't follow a three-hours-a-week training regimen ate more than the allotted 1,500 calories a day. Sneaking snacks was also found to derail workouts. Turns out, nutrition and fitness really do go hand in hand.
You'll Manage Stress More Effectively7 of 8
Regular resistance training can have a positive effect on your endocrine system by helping to manage your mood and energy. A study at the Medical College of Georgia showed that the blood pressure of people with more muscle steadied out faster after a stressful situation when compared to people with less muscle.
Other studies have found that fitter people have lower cortisol levels, which helps prevent higher insulin levels, blood sugar drops, cravings and subsequent weight gain.