Kick-start Your Metabolism with Weight Training
When it comes to fitness, nothing makes me scratch my head more than the topic of metabolism. Did you know that you can raise your metabolism by drinking apple juice first thing in the morning? It also helps to eat orange peels. You can also swig salt water on the left side of your mouth while standing on one leg.
Sound a bit crazy? It should, but this is the stuff that saturates the mainstream fitness media. Everyone is focused on gimmicks and hokey quick fixes and missing the big picture. In order to increase metabolism, you need to understand how metabolism works (bear with me here – I’ll make it quick).
Metabolism is simply the sum of two equations: when the body breaks thinks down and when the body builds stuff up. In order to have a fast metabolism, you want to make sure that your body is spending a lot of time building things – like repairing tissue and building muscle. If you go for a long walk or an easy jog, your body simply revs up the energy it needs to get through the run….and that’s it. Once the run is over, the body’s energy returns to pretty much baseline, meaning that you need to do more and more activity to burn more energy. Case in point: a meta-analysis done found a study where subjects who did 90 minutes of activity a day, three days a week, couldn’t shrink their waistline (1).
So when I hear “how to speed up your metabolism,” I better get an earful of circuit training, strength training, kettlebells, medicine balls, and some calisthenics. We refer to these things as “strength and conditioning.” This is because these activities require the body to expel a ton of energy after you get done, possibly to the point to where your metabolism is running 10% higher 2 days after you exercise!
The great thing about strength and conditioning is that you can manipulate your training in order to get the results that you want. For instance, using short intervals in weight training is a great way to promote the release of growth hormone. Growth hormone is responsible for promoting muscle gain while burning fat. When researchers used short rest periods with test subjects, they found that those who rested the least amount of time (30 seconds) had the greatest increase in their metabolic rate (2). In another study, a group of subjects performed high intensity exercise for only 2 minutes. Researchers compared this to a group that did 30 minutes of non-stop exercise. Interestingly, both groups burned the same amount of calories the next day but the 2 minute group burned more fat (3)! Keep in mind that not all calories are created equal.
Still want to raise your metabolism? Good – then ditch the treadmill and start hitting the training floor. Lift weights that you can handle for 8 to 10 reps and make sure you bring a towel to wipe off all that sweat pouring down your body!
1. Donnelly, J.E., Blair, S.N., Jakicic, J.M., Manore, M.M., Rankin, J.W., Smith, B.K. “Appropriate Physical Activity Intervention Strategies for Weight Loss and Prevention of Weight Regain for Adults.”(2009) Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 41;7, 1532
2. Paoli, A., et al. “High Intensity Interval Resistance Training Influences Resting Energy Expenditure and Respiratory Exchange Ratio in Non-Dieting Individuals.”(2012) Journal of Translational Medicine 10:1,237
3. Hazell, T.J., Olver, T.D., Hamilton, C.D., Lemon, P.W.R. “Two Minutes of Sprint Interval Exercise Elicits 24 Hr Oxygen Consumption Similar to That of 30 Min of Continuous Exercise.(2012) International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. 22, 276-283