Lean muscle mass increases caloric expenditure.
Aerobic workouts burn a significant number of calories, but weight training speeds up your entire metabolism, says the American Heart Association. The organization that championed cardiovascular exercise for heart health and weight control revised their position stand in 2000, and included resistance training, explaining that the muscles you chisel in the free-weight room require extra energy for maintenance, even when your body is at rest. These added energy requirements turbocharge your metabolism.
The Free-Weight Rationale
The number of muscle groups you recruit during any activity increases your caloric expenditure, says the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Resistance-training machines often restrict some muscle groups, isolate others and provide seat belts and seat adjustments to stabilize your spine. These artificial stabilizers eliminate the need for deep core muscle engagement. Although beneficial for novices, this type of training users fewer muscle groups, and therefore burns fewer calories. Most free-weight exercises activate a number of muscles simultaneously, and require core engagement for maintaining spinal stability.
Metabolic Resistance Training
In their 2012 conference, the National Strength and Conditioning Association presented a session on metabolic resistance training. They designed the thrice weekly program to increase caloric expenditure during and after the workout. Maximum benefits come from packing more exercises into each session, speeding up the lifting, or positive, phase of each repetition and slowing down the negative, or return, phase of the movement. Train at maximum effort, but allow a rest day between sessions for adequate recovery.
Compound exercises such as squats, lunges, lat pull-downs, bent-over rows, bench presses and pullups engage multiple muscle groups, and therefore increase caloric expenditure. Additional calorie-burning boosts come from exercises that work the upper and lower body simultaneously, such as the squat combined with the overhead shoulder press. Performing most of your workout from a standing, instead of a seated, supine or prone position, burns even more calories. The final caloric boost comes from limiting rests between sets to less than 30 seconds.
Circuit Weight Training
In 2004, the "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research" published a study whose results indicate that circuit weight training produced cardiovascular responses similar to running on a treadmill. Choose a series of 10 compound exercises, five for the upper body and five for the lower body. Set your weights at 50 percent of your one repetition max. Use an online calculator to determine this number. Perform 10 repetitions, then quickly move on to the next exercise. Repeat the entire circuit three times.