There are numerous benefits that building muscle and weight training can have when trying to burn off excess fat and reaching your fitness goals. Firstly, the more muscle you have, the more efficient your body is at burning fat. The reason for this is simply that extra muscle requires more energy in order for it to be maintained. In simple terms, you will burn more calories in a typical day if you have more muscle and therefore will have to consume more calories in order to put on weight. As well as burning excess calories you consume, your body will use more of the body’s fat stores to compensate for the extra energy required.

However, the studies which support this idea conclude that the extra calories expended average around ten extra calories per pound of muscle per day which means it would take a great deal of muscle mass to reap these benefits.

Although weight training is no match for cardio for burning calories it can substantially improve its effectiveness. To understand this you need to know how the body uses calories and fat stores. From food, there are three macro-nutrients which are essential to our diets; these are proteins, carbohydrates and fats. When consumed we use proteins for growth and repair, we use carbohydrates for energy (glycogen) and fats for fuel. Any excess in either of these macro-nutrients will be converted into fat stores. When we do cardio we firstly deplete our energy stores (glycogen) before we burn our fat stores. With cardio this process can a very long time but if done correctly, weight training can deplete glycogen levels rapidly, resulting in the body needing to delve into fat stores the body to use as fuel.

The main benefits of this being that, when the glycogen levels are in short-supply the body’s metabolism becomes more efficient at burning calories throughout the day. Thus, you are not limited to the calories you burn with your gym session. Ultimately, if you proceed to do weight training at the start of your session and wipe out your body’s energy stores (glycogen), when you do cardio you burn fat stores rather than excess calories.

It is important to remember that in order to make your weight training more effective for raising you metabolism and depleting glycogen levels (to directly burn fat stores); strength training is the most effective way to do this (i.e. use a weight you can only lift for 1-5 reps). The more stress you put on your body the more energy you expend.

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