Why You Should Strength Train While Dieting?

Why You Should Strength Train While Dieting?

in Sportsfuel Articles and Blog
Many people wonder if they should strength train while dieting. Will strength training build muscle and make you bigger?

You're on a diet because you want to get smaller, not bigger. You might be afraid that if you strength train by lifting weights you'll get big and bulky and be even farther away from your goal than you are now. But what many men and women don't realize is that strength training on a diet is one of the most effective ways to sculpt a desirable physique of any size. This is both because of the physical appearance of muscle and because the more muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolism will likely be.

At the beginning of your diet, or "cutting phase," you are heavier than you will be at your goal weight. Because of the excess weight, your body requires more muscle mass to move around and complete daily activities than it will when you become lighter and smaller.

Muscle mass is metabolically expensive, meaning it requires a lot of daily calories to maintain. When you are eating at a caloric deficit, your body thinks you are starving and will do what it deems necessary to lower your metabolism. As you lose weight and it becomes easier to move around, your body no longer needs as much muscle and will quickly get rid of the excess, because unnecessary muscle is too calorically expensive to maintain during a "famine." To continue losing weight with a lowered metabolism, you would have to eat even fewer calories.

If the metabolic effects of preserving your muscle mass during a diet aren't convincing enough, consider the aesthetic benefits. Toned, strong muscle looks better and tighter under the skin than flabby, atrophied muscle. This is true even when you have a significant amount of fat to lose. When a person loses weight and becomes smaller, but loses a lot of muscle mass in the process and still looks flabby even at a lighter weight, that person is said to be "skinny fat."

So, how do you avoid losing your muscle mass as you diet at a calorie deficit?

Since you are not eating enough food to fully fuel your body, energy will have to be lost somewhere. To keep your body under the impression that its muscle mass is vital and should not be shed as you get smaller, you need to perform heavy strength training. What this does is send your body a message saying "I'm using this muscle for important work, so if you need to get rid of mass, why don't you burn some extra fat instead?"

Strength training is most commonly accomplished with weightlifting, though some beginners prefer to work out at home using movements such as squats, lunges, and pushups to build up strength before joining a gym. When beginners start a diet and strength training program, they often feel discouraged within the first week because they feel bulkier and may not be dropping weight on the scale as quickly as planned.

If you experience immediate "bulkiness," don't panic, just keep going! This is a sign that your muscles are retaining water while they heal and grow stronger, and it is exactly what you want to happen. You will not be permanently bigger. Instead, you are on your way to a lean, sculpted physique and a preserved metabolism.

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