This time of year, many of us are looking for hacks to stick with winter workouts and avoid holiday weight gain. But, if you’ve found yourself dreading outdoor sweat sessions or struggling to make it into the gym, it may be time for a new approach. One possible fix? Start lifting to slim down.
“I’m a firm believer that everyone should be doing some kind of weightlifting for weight loss, muscle gain, body recomposition, stronger bones and overall health,” says Tami Smith, a certified personal trainer. “When the weather takes a turn during the winter months, you suddenly find yourself with more time on your hands — and you’re less than enthusiastic about slugging along on the treadmill or elliptical all winter — the suggestion of weight training begins to look a little more appealing.”
Weightlifting offers numerous benefits that can help support your weight-loss efforts all season long. Here are four reasons to get started now.
REV YOUR METABOLISM
With plenty of holiday eating ahead, many turn to cardio to lose fat since it burns calories fast. But weightlifting supports greater calorie burn long after your workout is over. Resistance training helps develop muscles that, in turn, help you burn more calories, confirms personal trainer Matt Scarfo. This is because more muscle means a higher basal metabolic rate (BMR), or how many calories your body burns at rest — which is responsible for 60–75% of your overall daily calorie burn.
STRENGTHEN YOUR MOOD
For many of us, winter marks the arrival of seasonal depression and upticks in anxiety and stress due to increased demands at work and home. In turn, this can lead to comfort eating to cope, and the potential for weight gain. Although it’s no cure-all, lifting may help keep your mood and weight in check, says Natasha Funderburk, a certified personal trainer. In fact, resistance training seems to help dial down symptoms of depression, regardless of how intense or long the workout is, according to a 2018 metaanalysis of 33 clinical trials published in JAMA Psychiatry.
CURB HOLIDAY WEIGHT GAIN
Adding weightlifting to your routine could also help tip the calorie balance in your favor to keep your weight under control even when winter cravings strike, says John Gardner, a certified trainer and cofounder of Kickoff, a remote personal training platform. Considering holiday weight gain is responsible for about 1 pound a year — which most of us don’t lose — it’s a smart move to dial up your efforts through the new year.
GET A HEAD START ON NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS
Sometimes, New Year’s resolutions can become an excuse to procrastinate healthy lifestyle changes since it’s cold outside, and you’ll get started in January. Instead, why not begin early — before the gym is packed with newcomers? “While other people view winter as the season to slack off with their fitness, you can be lifting your way to weight loss,” says Scarfo. By adopting the practice now, you can research new workouts, set goals, perfect your technique, and solidify your routine to make resolutions that stick when the new year arrives.
THE BOTTOM LINE
“Strength-training doesn’t just help you shed excess pounds — it helps you build muscle, thereby changing the shape of your body and allowing you to achieve the results you’re truly looking for,” says Smith. Along with a calorie deficit, weightlifting can help you lose weight and stay on track with healthy habits throughout the winter months. Get started today with our essential guide to strength training.
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