Why it’s important to incorporate strength training (or barre) into your routine if you want to “lose weight”.

Being at your optimal fitness level is about more than just a number on the scale. While things like weight and BMI are a great starting point for getting healthy. They don’t really tell you much about your fitness level. I’m sure you’ve come across two people who were the same height/weight, but looked totally different.

So how can two people be the same height/weight and have the same BMI, but one looks way more fit than the other? The simple answer—body composition.

So, the reason those two people look so different is because one has a higher percentage of body fat than the other. It’s true: muscle weighs more than fat. We all need a specific percentage of body fat for optimal health. Even elite athletes need fat on their bodies, and women need more fat than men for optimal health.

Bottom line, if you’re interested in changing your body and becoming more fit, it’s more important to focus on body composition than weight.

By about this time, I bet you’re starting to wonder—how do I change my body composition? Short answer—build more muscle mass while losing fat mass.

How? Add strength training into your routine (barre counts as strength training).

Here are a few reasons strength training help to change your body faster than cardio ever will:

  1. Strength training builds muscle. Cardio alone will undoubtedly help you to shed pounds. But, if you aren’t incorporating strength training into your routine, some of those pounds you see shed when you step on the scale will also be muscle.
  1. Strength training has higher a post-exercise calorie burning effect. After a strength training session, your body continues to burn calories at a higher rate for a much longer period of time than after a cardio session (up to even 36 hours or longer). This is because your body is working hard to repair muscle tissue, which takes calories.
  1. Strength training increases your resting metabolic rate. This means as your body composition changes to a higher percentage of lean mass (think muscle tissue), you’ll burn more calories while doing absolutely nothing. This is a long-term affect that continues long after your workout ends.
  1. Strength training will keep your body young. One pound of fat fills up almost 20% more space than one pound of muscle. As we age, our body naturally starts to lose muscle mass (especially if we aren’t using it) by converting it to fat. Strength training will help to maintain (and increase) your percentage of lean body mass. Bonus—strength training workouts will also help to maintain bone density as you age.
  1. Strength training will totally reshape your body (inside + out). Like I said before, cardio is great if you just want to lose pounds—but, some of those pounds are going to be muscle in addition to fat. Strength training builds muscle, which helps to burn calories even at rest. Strength training paired with an excellent nutrition program means your clothes will fit better. You’ll be stronger. You’ll have more energy. You’ll be more productive. The list goes on…

No fear, you don’t have to work towards body builder status to reap the benefits of these effects. Barre is a strength-training program that focuses on muscular endurance through low weights and high reps, which means you’ll never get bulky from doing barre. If you engage in a consistent barre program, you can expect lean and toned muscles. So, if bulky is what you’re interested in, be sure to include strength training that incorporates higher weights with lower reps.

To reap the optimal benefits of a muscular endurance program, such as barre, you should plan to participate 4-5 times per week.