If you’re spending your allotted five hours a week in the gym exclusively on a Stairmaster or an elliptical machine, chances are you aren’t aware that you can think yourself thin by using the new muscle math. It goes like this: a 200 pound muscular man (or woman) burns more calories in a day than a 200 pound fat guy, even if they both do the exact same things, even if they do nothing at all. More accurately, a pound of muscle at rest consumes more calories in a day than a pound of fat. That’s righ
t, even without lifting a single weight or running a single step. When you move, this fat-burning differential grows. The implications of this new muscle math completely changes the way we should view the relationship between exercise and weight loss, and if you aren’t on board, grab a calculator and prepare to hit the weights.
Consider the possibilities. If you’re trying to lose weight, then adding lean muscle means your body will consume more calories, and thus a greater daily calorie deficit than that of a fat person eating the same amount of food and doing the exact same exercises. If you’re not dieting, a muscular person can consume more food in a day before the body begins storing extra calories as fat. Which means, your hard work in the weight room is rewarded with bigger portions or an extra scoop of ice cream before you begin paying a price on the scale. Truly a case of the rich getting richer.
Not only does adding lean muscle mass through resistance training bring the benefits of this new math into your life, the process itself will get you leaner, quicker. Weight lifting causes the body to generate natural human growth hormone, a phenomenon that continues long after you’ve showered and headed home. Aerobic training, beneficial as it is, doesn’t accomplish this. Which means, you can actually create a longer lasting metabolic (calorie-burning) benefit through weight lifting than you can by doing aerobic exercise exclusively.
Of course, when it comes to exercise the total can exceed the sum of the parts when you do both. Aerobic exercise is very beneficial for your heart, and should be part of your routine. But if you aren’t doing resistance training with a goal of gaining lean mass as part of your weight loss strategy, you may be working hard, but you’re not working smart. So hit the weights and your body will reward you with a faster fat-burning metabolism with a side benefit – you’ll look better in your gym shorts, too.