Armed with this knowledge, many people think that losing weight should be easy with enough exercise.
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You might take this as bad news. The truth is that for those who aren't used to exercising and aren't in their best shape, beginning a fitness program for weight loss might actually lead to weight gain. As I tell my clients, this shouldn't be a cause for alarm, as it is actually very common.
What is it about exercise that might cause some people to gain instead of losing weight? Muscle mass.
One of the main reasons exercising can lead to weight gain is that it promotes the growth of muscle mass.
If you are not used to working out and haven't used certain muscles regularly, after exercising your muscles will be sore and will increase in size. While you may burn off fat, muscle is denser than fat. Therefore, the weight you gain is in your muscles.
Because muscles take up less space than fat, your extra weight doesn't necessarily translate to larger size. In fact, once you start working out, you'll probably become thinner, even if you maintain your previous weight. Instead of using a scale to determine if you are slimming down, have your body fat tested regularly or measures your body at certain areas.
If you see that you're losing inches, then you know you're on the right track.
Cardiovascular activities such as walking, running, or swimming will encourage the growth of lean, toned muscles. Other activities such as weight lifting promote the growth of larger, stronger muscles that contribute to weight gain.
But there is good news. If you stick with the current program, your muscles will soon stabilize in size and after a time, become more firm and toned. After your muscles are strong and able to handle more strenuous workouts, you will be able to burn calories faster.
While it might be frustrating and disappointing to see the scale go up after starting an exercise routine, it shouldn't stop you from exercising. You might just be building muscle faster than losing body fat. This can be especially true if you're genetically prone to building muscle fast. The key is to incorporate smart cardio training in addition to strength training. That way you will burn plenty of calories during your routine and be more able to shed those extra pounds.
Chad Smith is a Hagerstown personal trainer. Grab his new eBook, "Best of Fitness Answer Man Volume: One" at his blog http://www.hometeamfitnessblog.com