Part 3: Best Way to Boost Metabolism
By Melissa Hernandez
In our last two blogs we discussed the science behind metabolism as we think it is essential knowledge for anyone working toward any kind of fitness goal. Now that you have some background, we’d like to offer some advice to put the information into practice.
While there are numerous articles on the internet with helpful tips on how to boost metabolism, some of the tips that these articles give will have little effect on the overall function of your metabolism and many of them will certainly not enhance it over the long term. However, the one metabolism-boosting method that is a constant in all of these articles is one that we view as the most essential and important to maintaining a healthy metabolism:
Strength training. This includes body weight exercises, but more importantly: exercising with weights. The heavier, the better.
When it comes to achieving weight loss through exercise, many people make the assumption that they only need cardiovascular exercise to get the job done. As a result, they never lift a single weight in the course of their efforts. This is a huge mistake. While it is important to have a balance of cardiovascular exercise and strength training as part of your fitness regimen, cardio is not the aspect that will make the most significant change to your metabolism. To improve the function of metabolism, strength training is key.
One of the major reasons that so many people lose and then regain weight (commonly referred to as the “weight loss roller coaster”) is because they neglect to consider the function of their metabolism. A cardio-only approach to weight loss without any effort to improve metabolism is like bailing water out of a boat with an enormous hole in it. You remember the old cartoons: the very second the bailing stops, the boat just fills up again. We view strength training as the key to fixing the hole in the boat.
The focus of strength training is to build muscle mass. As we explained in our previous blog, Introducing: Your Metabolism, the more muscle mass a person has, the better their metabolism functions. Remember, muscle requires more energy for the body to sustain; therefore, the more muscle you have, the better your metabolism with function.
So why is it that so many people ignore strength training? Here are a few common reasons:
1. Some people are intimidated by weights and weight machines because they don’t know how to use them and are too embarrassed to ask. It’s time to get over the intimidation and embarrassment factors and ask someone that knows, whether it be a friend, a personal trainer, or fitness instructor. You might even consult an established website with fitness videos.
2. Many women steer clear of strength training equipment out of fear that if they so much as look at a weight, they will wake up the next morning and see a female body builder in the mirror. Yes, that is an exaggeration. But becoming “bulky” is a common fear of women. Perhaps just as common are the rolling eyes of fitness trainers every time they hear a woman say they don’t want to “get huge”. What most women don’t realize is that it is very difficult for women to build muscle the way that men do, and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight or on accident. In fact, it would take a couple years of very dedicated training for an average woman to get the arms of a Jessica Biel or Cameroon Diaz, so if your fear is becoming the She Hulk, put your mind at ease because it’s not happening without steroids. So why do these fears perpetuate? Because publishers know they can sell magazines with headlines like, “How to Lift Weights Without Getting Bulky”— despite the fact that the articles inside are pretty much useless information.
3. People don’t like to think any more than they need to, and using weights requires people to think about their exercise— How much weight? How many reps? How may sets? In what order should I do the exercises?, etc.— whereas cardio requires no thought: get on, press go, and run (or petal, or climb). But guess what? When it comes to structuring a strength training program, there’s an app for that! There are many websites, YouTube videos, books, and magazines that can help too. And if you have the resources, there are personal trainers, boot camps, and group exercise classes that utilize weights.
Strength training is too valuable a tool to ignore as it is key to maintaining a healthy metabolism. So go out on a limb: learn about it, practice it, and perfect your technique. Make the extra effort and you will make strides in your quest to achieve your fitness goals.
Melissa is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and the owner of Rocksteady Fitness in Oxnard, California. For regular diet and fitness tips and articles, follow her on tumblr, and “Like” her page on Facebook: Rocksteady Fitness.