Let’s be real, most of us started our fitness journey to get rid of body fat, look better in a swimsuit, and hopefully get a little stronger (all good goals). The wonderful thing about CrossFit is that we know we can get a killer workout in an hour or less. When we think about “killer” work outs, we usually think about the “metcon” or metabolic conditioning work outs. The ones that get our heart rates up, make us sweat like crazy, and burn lots of calories. While metabolic conditioning is essential to burning fat and increasing endurance, this should not take away from good, old fashioned, gritty weightlifting.
There are many reasons to take the “strength days” or the strength portion of class seriously. Let’s talk about three.
- Lifting weight also burns fat. Intense metcons, also know as HIIT, or cardio workouts do burn calories, but the real fat burning happens when we leave the gym. Building lean muscle mass through resistance training (lifting weights) causes our bodies to expend more energy to maintain that muscle tissue, therefore burning more calories. Your Basal Metabolic Heartrate (BMR) represents the amount of calories you burn while sedentary. A higher BMR correlates to less body fat and more lean muscle. Regular resistance training is a huge factor toward getting a higher BMR, in result, burning more fat.
- Lifting weight establishes a foundation for the entire strength continuum. Want to run a faster mile? Squat heavier. Want to pick up your kids without back pain? You might want to focus more on those dead lifts. Whatever your fitness goals are, lifting will help. Experience in a loaded movement causes the body to adapt to stress placed on the Central Nervous System. Therefore, now that your body is used to squatting say, 200lbs for multiple reps, running a mile using only your body weight will be less of a shock to your CNS. Essentially, you’re stronger. Your mile time should improve. The same idea goes for any other goal. Whether you are looking to become a competitive athlete who can switch between multiple movements fast and efficient, or you just want to add distance to your drive on the golf course, resistance training will get you there.
- Lifting weights makes you happy. Heavy lifting causes a shift in your body’s system known as the neuroendocrine response. The neuroendocrine response is the relationship between your nervous system and endocrine system (hormones). Heavy lifting with short rest intervals boots this phenomenon, resulting in increased bone density, lean muscle, and happiness. Greg Glassman, CrossFit’s founder, explains the importance of utilizing workouts that evoke neuroendocrine response this way –
“Among the hormonal responses vital to athletic development are substantial increases in testosterone, insulin-like growth factor, and human growth hormone. Exercising with protocols known to elevate these hormones eerily mimics the hormonal changes sought in exogenous hormonal therapy (steroid use) with none of the deleterious effect. Exercise regimens that induce a high neuroendocrine response produce champions! Increased muscle mass and bone density are just two of many adaptive responses to exercises capable of producing a significant neuroendocrine response.”
Next time you see that strength workout posted, be assured big changes are happening in your body. Lifting weight might not seem like it is doing as much for you as the 45 minute HIIT or cardio work out, but it is making a big difference in your overall health. It just might be your missing piece to losing some of that unwanted body fat or fitting better in those skinny jeans. Don’t neglect your lifts!