Lifting weights and participating in other types of strength training can make you gain muscle mass, which weighs more than an equivalent amount of body fat. However, weightlifting also prevents long-term weight gain, helps you stay at a healthy weight and lessens your body fat, among other physical advantages.
Regular weightlifting and strength training can help boost your stamina; improve your focus; manage chronic pain and other serious medical conditions; strengthen bones; and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Weightlifting also helps you keep your weight in check when you do it regularly, because it builds lean muscle mass, which burns more calories at a resting heart rate than body fat does.
Lifting weights challenges muscles more than most cardiovascular, aerobic and endurance activities. As you do a set of heavy lifting exercises, your muscle fibers experience small tears that they rebuild in the following days, resulting in stronger muscles and a more defined physique. If you lift regularly, your body will decrease its percentage of fat over time and increase the percentage of lean muscle mass, which weighs more. You may notice a slight increase on the scale, especially if you don’t supplement your weightlifting with aerobic exercise. However, the American Council on Exercise states that most people who regularly lift weights gain about the same weight in muscle that they lose in body fat.
Other factors also influence whether you gain weight while following a workout routine that features lifting. One is your diet. Weight gain is always a matter of calories consumed versus calories burned, so if you eat more than you’re burning, you’ll steadily gain pounds. Another factor is genetics. Many women are unable to develop bulked-up muscles or significant weight gain from lifting because their bodies have far lower amounts of testosterone than men's.
If you don’t want to gain weight but do want to reap the benefits of weightlifting and strength training, add regular cardio exercise to your routine. Cardio exercises burn more calories per hour than weightlifting, and help improve aerobic capacity and endurance as well. Sixty minutes of jogging burns close to 600 calories for a 160-lb. person, but 60 minutes of weightlifting burns only about 220 calories. You can also prevent weight gain by monitoring your daily caloric intake or reducing the number of calories you eat.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.