Strength training has been proven to be the best way to improve muscle tissue. Since this tissue accounts for the majority of your metabolic rate (the calories you burn each day), it is obvious that strength training is the best and quickest way to increase it.
This increase can be maintained for life as long as the muscle is maintained. Age should have nothing to do with decreased metabolic rate. Numerous studies have exposed the myth that our metabolisms naturally slow as we get older (the most recent study is posted below).
For every pound of muscle you add to your body you increase your metabolism by 50-70 calories. Just the fact that you have that tissue on your frame makes your body burn more calories even while you sleep! Fat just sits there and insulates so it doesn’t contribute significantly to your metabolism. This means if you gain 10 pounds of muscle your metabolism will be as much as 700 calories per day higher than it used to be and as long as you maintain it you never lose that high metabolic rate.
The average American carries about 30 pounds of excess fat. We’ll name him Johnny Six Pack. Johnny loves beer and pizza. If Johnny put on just 15 pounds of muscle through proper strength training and lost 30 pounds of fat with correct nutrition, he would weigh 15 pounds less but look like a magazine cover model! He would effectively trade in his six pack of beer for six pack abs and would also enjoy a metabolism that runs about 1,000 calories per day higher than when he was chubby! This means it is now easier to maintain his new body because he has turned himself into a fat burning furnace.
You don’t need to be “bulky” or add a whole bunch of weight to have a great metabolism. Muscle is much more dense than fat and takes up less room. If you just trade muscle for fat you will notice inches melting away and your shape and tone improving even if you don’t lose any “scale” weight. For more detail on this issue see the article “Women and The Myth of Bulking Up”.
Cardio exercise (i.e.. running, aerobics, cycling, etc.) can increase your metabolism while you are engaged in the activity and even for a short time after you are done, but it won’t have the the ongoing metabolic effect that muscle tissue does. This is why we see so many “chunky” aerobics instructors. Their diet has a lot to do with it but most don’t have enough muscle to fuel a high metabolism. Instead of having an elevated metabolic rate all day long and through the night, they just have it during their class and for a short time after.
Strength training is the best way to put on muscle and change the metabolism you were born with. Adding muscle to your frame is hard work and takes some patience. Once you have it however, it is easier to maintain it than to get it. This is when X Gym clients can go out on their own and no longer have to be dependent on the X Gym . It might take a year or longer to get the muscle you need but then you can maintain it on your own for the rest of your life and never have to experience the decline others have accepted as part of aging. For more detail on this issue see the article “Metabolism and Exercise”.
Van Pelt, R.E., et al. (2001). Age-related decline in RMR in physically active men: relation to exercise volume and energy intake. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 281:E633-E639.