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The combination of weight training, aerobic exercise and sound eating habits have shown to be the most effective for fat loss and toning. Toning is simply the restoration of muscle and the simultaneous decrease of fat. Every year, after the age of 25, the average American gains one pound of body weight, yet loses one third to one half pound of muscle (Evans 1992). Consequently, our resting metabolism decreases approximately one half of a percent every year. Proper exercise and sound eating habits can reverse this process.
While aerobic exercise burns fat during exercise, anaerobic exercises, like weight training or sprints (see HIIT), utilize fat, hours after exercise. Weight training can also increase the metabolic rate a second way: It restores muscle tissue that had been lost over the years from a sedentary modern lifestyle, thus improving the aesthetics of the body by accentuating its curves and shape.
The average adult adds 3 pounds (1.36 kg) of muscle after 2 months of strength training (Westcott 1995) and consequently increase their metabolic rate by 7% (Campbell 1994, Pratley 1994). It has been estimated that one pound (0.453 kg) of muscle burns approximately 30-50 Calories per day. In contrast, a pound of fat only burns about three Calories per day. After 3 months of strength exercise, the average adult loses 4 pounds (1.8 kg) of fat despite eating 15% more Calories (Campbell 1994).
Conversely, Elia M (1992) suggest muscle's metabolic rate is considerably lower, yet it still contributes about 20% to Total Daily Energy Expenditure versus 5% for fat tissue (for individuals with about 20% body fat).
In any case, weight training exercises that use large muscle groups (e.g. Gluteus Maximus, Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Chest, and Back exercises), with a progressively greater resistance, have the most potential for restoring lean body weight and raising the metabolism hours after exercise.
Most people do not have to be worried about getting too big when training with weights. Evidence suggests that less than 20 percent of men, and very few women, can develop large muscles, even if they wanted to, regardless of what program they follow. Bodybuilders seen on TV have usually trained for years, possess a certain degree of genetic aptitude and, most likely, have used anabolic steroids sometime in their careers.
When beginning an exercise program, muscle mass increases may initially outpace fat loss, resulting in a very small, temporary weight gain. When exercise can be increased over time, more significant fat loss can occur. Unless an exerciser is highly motivated and performs extreme volumes of activity, actual weight loss is usually only seen with particular dietary improvements.