Let’s start with a few facts about muscles. The amount of muscle you have determines how many calories your body uses when you’re inactive. Muscle burns more calories than fat (studies show just 500 g of muscle burns 30 calories a day just being there, whereas 500 g of fat burns just 2 calories a day) So the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn.
Regular weight training can increase your basal metabolic rate (BMR) by as much as 15%. (Your BMR is the rate at which your body burns calories – even just by sitting down, sleeping, breathing; the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn just by ‘being) And you’ll find you have bags more energy, too.
Then there are the bone-strengthening benefits of weight training. Some studies show that after six months of weight training, your spine bone mineral density could increase by 13%. Better bones help boost your posture, which helps make you look leaner. On top of that, regular weight training can help lower your blood pressure, fight diabetes and can improve your mood.
Lean muscle also fills out your skin, so saggy cellulite tissue could be transformed into neat, toned, smoother, taut buttocks in a matter of weeks. As you work on building and firming your muscles and reducing body fat, this effectively helps to lift the skin, which can help prevent that puckering which takes place when the fibres pull downwards. In fact, one study found that 70% of women said their cellulite improved in just six weeks by doing weight training on their legs.
The trouble with muscle is that when we reach our late thirties, we start losing it – about 250 g of muscle a year according to some figures. What that means is you risk losing 2.5 kg of muscle while gaining 7.5 kg of fat every ten years if you don’t do anything to counter the muscle loss. So if you were to carryon eating the same amount of food and calories, you’d gain weight. Research shows that between the ages of 35 and 65 you gain about 500 g a year. Which is one reason why
you may find your cellulite has become more noticeable over the years.
What to do about it
• Get yourself a regular muscle-toning workout.
•Working with weight machines, dumbbells, barbells, body bars, body bands, wrist or ankle weights constitutes an effective resistance workout, so head for your local gym and ask a trainer to devise a workout for you. He or she will ensure you’ll be doing things properly, so you’ll be less vulnerable to injury.
• The aim is to build in three sessions of resistance work a week.
• Even using your own body weight as resistance counts, so you can even build your muscles at home; good exercises include sit-ups, press-ups, lunges and squats.
• Turn your daily walk or cycle into an effective resistance workout by incorporating hills, or walking with ankle weights.
• Gym-based classes such as step, spinning or body conditioning involve resistance work.