No disrespect to cardio, but if you want to blast fat, get in shape, and rock everything that comes your way—both in and out of the gym—strength training is where it’s at. And experts agree: Heavy lifting is in! You can’t swing a kettlebell these days without hitting some workout guru, exercise program, or book advising women to not only lift weights but lift heavier weights.
But why? And should you try it if you’re already happy with your current workout routine? Here, eight benefits of lifting weights that’ll convince you to pick up the heavy dumbbells.
1.You’ll Torch More Body Fat
Build more muscle and you’ll keep your body burning fat all day long. (Here’s all the science behind why muscle helps you burn fat and calories.)
“Lifting weights can increase your lean body mass, which increases the number of overall calories you burn during the day,” says Jacque Crockford, CSCS and spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise. Burning extra calories post-workout plus building muscle? That’s the surefire way to get the body you want.
In recent research on overweight or obese adults (age 60 and over), the combination of a low-calorie diet and weight training resulted in greater fat loss than a combination of a low-calorie diet and walking workouts, according to a 2017 study published in the journal Obesity. The adults who walked instead of weight trained did lose a comparable amount of weight—but a significant portion of the weight loss included lean body mass. Meanwhile, the adults who did strength training maintained muscle mass while losing fat. This suggests that strength training is better at helping people lose belly fat compared with cardio because while aerobic exercise burns both fat and muscle, weight lifting burns almost exclusively fat.