This article was originally written more than 25 years ago. It is however still extremely relevant. In fact, in re-reading, the only thing I would correct is the assertion that for every additional pound of muscle that someone puts on, their resting metabolic rate increases by 75 to 100 calories daily. Since then, that figure has been challenged, and I suspect it is significantly lower. With that correction, you could stop here and go read the article or I’ve added some additional info below that may be of interest.
Strength training’s main contribution to fat loss has more to do with ensuring that the weight you lose is primarily, if not exclusively fat, as opposed to losing muscle. If you are using your muscles intensely, your body will resist sacrificing muscle tissue, whereas, in the absence of intense muscular work, your body may see your fat stores as more important to survival and resist sacrificing that tissue. So, while the contribution of extra muscle may have been overestimated, strength training nevertheless makes a very important contribution to improving body composition. In the end though, you really can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet.
It is interesting, that despite the knowledge in this article being more than 25 years old, and that more recent research has shown than short bursts of intense work contribute as much or more to conditioning that long low intensity steady state activity, the recommendations to do long drawn out activity (so called “cardio”) remain very common. There is often a lag between when new knowledge is discovered and when it actually becomes mainstream.
Keep in mind, as stated in the article that some of these activities are recreational in nature and can provide enjoyment and other psychological and social benefits. Therefore, if this is something one truly enjoys or perhaps competes at, then practicing these activities is a personal choice. (and necessary if you need to refine your skills to improve your change of doing better if competing)
That choice, however, should be made with the knowledge that it will take up more of a person’s time and potentially subject them to higher probability of acute or chronic injury. Like all life choices, one decides which priorities are more important to them. Proper strength training and learning the best techniques will help to reduce chances of injury.
On the other hand, if a person does not enjoy or compete in these activities, then the good news is that all the benefits can be had more efficiently and more safely with high intensity strength training.
Thanks for reading!