Many people exercise in order to lose body fat. At first glance, this makes sense: Goals help us focus our efforts and work systematically to achieve success. However, when it comes to changing your body, always training for fat loss tends to produce poor results. It often leads to programming mistakes, like focusing too much on cardio or lifting light weights.
As you’ll see with the ten reasons listed below, training for muscle is the perfect solution. You’ll transform your body composition and boost performance so that you are getting the most out of your workouts.
#1: You Will Be Training All Your Beautiful Muscle
When you overload muscle by lifting weights you're not accustomed to, it causes metabolic and functional changes that safeguard your body from injury, fat gain, and muscle loss. The catch is that you only get these adaptations in the muscle motor units you trained, and the only way to make sure you hit the highest threshold muscle fibers is to train for performance and increase the weight on the bar every workout.
#2: Be Less Likely To Slash Calories
When you slash calories (below 1,400 a day) to lose fat, you experience considerable muscle loss in conjunction with any fat loss. Calorie cutting also causes the body to downregulate metabolic rate in order to preserve fuel stores. Instead, training for muscle and performance requires you to eat accordingly, getting adequate calories and lots of protein. Shoot for a high-protein, nutrient-rich diet that supplies at least 1.6 g/kg of body weight of protein a day to promote tissue repair and a higher thermic effect of food.
#3: Be Stronger
Being strong means you’ll be able to apply greater, more efficient stimulus to your body for faster changes in your physique. It also correlates with greater concentrations of fat burning hormones like testosterone and growth hormone.
#4: Have Better Hormone Balance & Less Stress
The process of losing fat is inherently stressful. Most people fixate on fat loss when they are trying to get lean. This anxiety about food and body fat makes the body feel threatened, raising cortisol. Thyroid hormone and androgens can also become depleted on low-calorie or restrictive diets, blunting fat loss and causing fatigue. Instead, stay motivated by focusing on the numbers on the weight plates instead of on the scale.
#5: Have Better Insulin Sensitivity & A Faster Metabolism
Anaerobic exercise like strength training and sprinting has a profoundly beneficial influence on insulin sensitivity and blood sugar function. In an insulin resistant state, you are much more likely to store the food you eat as fat. By training for muscle, you increase both the receptivity of the muscles to insulin and their demand for glucose. This contributes to better body composition, diabetes prevention, and a metabolism that works like clockwork.
#6: Be Less Likely To Overdo Cardio
Being fixated on fat loss can easily lead to overdoing cardio in an effort to burn more calories. This often backfires because scientists have found that the brain can actually sense the energy imbalance and will increase hunger hormones while downregulating activity levels.
#7: Less Back Pain & Better Posture
Building muscle and strength will help you develop better body awareness so that you keep your head in line with your spine and your movement patterns will be smoother. A strong lower back and core will help you stand up tall, keep your abdomen tight, and avoid back pain. A stronger upper back will give you the ability to roll your shoulders back by retracting your shoulder blades. You’ll look and feel more confident, and people will have more respect for you!
#8: Have Stronger Bones & Less Risk of Fracture
Building muscle increases the body’s ability to buffer acid, which is key because an elevated acid load leads to calcium loss from the bone. Plus, studies show that lean mass consistently correlates with stronger bone density and lifting heavy weights that load the spine is the BEST way to build bone.
#9: Be Less Likely To Reward Yourself With Food
Research shows that when people are motivated to work out in order to lose fat, they inadvertently end up eating more calories afterwards. Scientists think that people have become conditioned to reward themselves for physical efforts that they associate with fat loss. Instead, training “for fun,” “to get strong,” or “to build muscle” doesn’t have this pitfall and people are more successful achieving lasting body composition changes.
#10: You Might Fall In Love With Training
When you start training for muscle and performance, it’s common to discover this wealth of strength within yourself. Setting PRs every week is a great way to keep you excited about training that makes it easier to stay on track with workouts and nutrition so that you become someone who makes staying lean effortless.