Can Barbells Help Lose Weight?
When people think of fat loss and exercise, the first thoughts that initially spring to mind are those relating to cardio. You know the ones we mean: treadmills, cycling, walking, jogging, swimming, and so on. These types of exercise are all hugely beneficial for a number reasons, but is cardio the only way to burn fat? The answer to that question is a resounding ‘no’.
Recently, experts have found that weight and resistance training can help amplify fat loss results in a whole variety of different ways. Take the humble barbell for instance. This piece of weight training equipment has been around for decades, centuries even, and for the most part, it has remained largely unchanged. So, can barbells help lose weight and if so, how can they be utilized most effectively? Here’s a look at how barbells can be used to lose weight.
Look to build muscle – Rather than placing an emphasis on burning fat, why not instead take a different approach to health and fitness and instead focus on building muscle? Building lean muscle is one of the most effective ways of getting leaner and slimmer. You see, muscle requires more calories for maintenance than body fat. This is why most hulking bodybuilders require such vast quantities of food each day when compared with the average Joe. The more muscle you build, the more calories your body needs to burn to maintain your physique in its current shape. This means that your metabolism is forced to speed up and work harder as you carry more muscle. Many barbell exercises are considered essential when it comes to the growth and repair of muscle tissue, so the more barbell exercises you perform, the more muscle you will build.
Focus on compound exercises – A compound exercise is an exercise which targets multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Compound exercises are therefore integral parts of many weight training regimes. In terms of losing body fat however, compound lifts are very useful. This is because, as you are working several different muscles with one movement, you’re being forced to work harder and expend more energy. The more energy you are using, the more calories you are burning. Barbell bench presses for example, are designed to primarily target the pecs. However, as well as working the pectoral muscles, they also work your triceps, your core stabilizer muscles, and your deltoids. This requires a lot of energy and therefore your metabolism is forced into action. Most compound exercises are performed using barbells, making the barbell a very useful piece of kit for burning fat and building muscle.
Design an effective program – To really utilize your barbells for fat burning purposes, it’s important that you follow a structured training program rather than simply walking into the gym blind. It’s no good performing some barbell curls here, and some military presses there. No, when it comes to burning fat and building muscle, it’s vital that you follow an effective training program. If you feel you are experienced enough to create a program yourself, by all means head over to your computer or notepad and create a program utilizing plenty of barbell work, that places an emphasis on losing weight. Make sure you create a variety of different exercises to target different parts of your anatomy, and make sure you follow the correct number of sets and reps.
High reps – Remember, the key here is to burn fat. Sure, building muscle is a welcome by-product of training with barbells and free weights, but for the most part you’re looking to zone in on stubborn body fat. This is where it pays to count your reps. If you were training for strength and mass, most trainers would tell you to load up the bar with heavy weights, to train to failure, and to aim for around 4 – 6 reps per set. You aren’t looking to bulk up or get stronger. You want to get leaner. This is where it pays to use less weight and to increase the amount of reps you perform. Rather than 4 – 6 for strength and mass, or 8 – 12 for muscle growth, you should instead be looking for 15 – 20 reps. This will not only stimulate your muscle fibres and cause the damage needed to initiate protein synthesis and muscle hypertrophy (growth) it will also increase your heart rate and add an element of cardiovascular conditioning to your workouts. After you perform that many reps, you get aerobic benefits from your barbell work which means that you burn off more calories. The more calories you are burning off, the more weight you’ll lose.
Less rest between sets – Another great way of keeping your heartrate up so that you burn more calories is to take less rest between sets. After performing one working set, instead of resting for several minutes, instead aim for just 60 seconds, or even less than that if you can manage it. This gives your heart rate less time to slow down, so you continue to burn calories before starting the next exercise.
Clean up your diet – Okay, this last one has very little to do with barbells, but as we’re talking about losing weight, we need to address diet. It doesn’t matter how much barbell work you’re doing, how hard you are working, and how many calories you are burning off, if you take in more calories than you burn off you won’t lose weight. Weight loss is often made incredibly complicated, when in reality it simply comes down to calories in versus calories out. To get the most out of your barbell workouts, be sure to clean up your diet, monitor your calories, and consume plenty of healthy and wholesome foods. If you want to lose weight, your diet is arguably even more important than the barbell work you do in the gym, so make sure you have it in check.