How we accumulate fat on our bodies is an easy concept, isn’t it? We eat too much of the wrong foods, don’t exercise and the fat happily begins to grow and cling to us. It’s when you decide you want to tone up and gain muscle that it gets confusing for some. Does the fat turn into muscle? How do you gain the muscle? Women are often concerned that strength training will turn their feminine bodies into bodybuilders. Let’s get to the bottom of muscle versus fat debate.
Body fat and muscle are two completely different tissues. To lose one and build the other, you have to look at where both come from. We know that fat is related to diet. Meaning, if your diet consists of fried foods, sodium-filled snacks, cookies, cakes and pizza, you will gain fat. If you eat healthier foods such as lean meat and chicken, vegetables, fresh fruits and add calorie-burning exercise to the mix, you’ll burn that fat and shed pounds off of your frame.
Now, to tone up your arms, legs and belly requires strength training. That is, lifting weights and doing resistance training to work your various muscles. To change the muscle, it must be stimulated or pushed to discomfort. Depending on the amount of weight you lift, you can add tone or bulk to your frame. The average-sized woman who uses 10-pound dumbbells cannot become bulky by the sheer amount of the dumbbell. That’s the great thing about muscle-building – you can control where you want to build it and how much. Plus, working your muscles actually burns calories and increases your metabolism. An even better benefit, adding strength training to your routine can stave off osteoporosis, decrease arthritis, and improve joint strength.
So, to lose fat and gain muscle, you’ve got to combine eating healthy, strength training and cardio exercise. A better example: To achieve a six-pack belly, you have to lose the fat on top with cardio exercise and healthy eating habits, and then use abdominal exercises to strengthen those muscles. And if a month after you’ve started, you see the number on the scale creep up slightly, but your jeans feel a little more loose: here’s why: muscle weighs more than fat.