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If you think cardio alone is the key to blasting belly fat, keep reading!

Research on dieters who don’t weight lift, shows that, on average, 75 percent of their weight loss is from fat, while 25 percent is from muscle. Muscle loss may drop your scale weight, but it doesn’t improve your reflection in the mirror and it makes you more likely to gain back the flab you lost.

Research shows that between the ages of 30 and 50, you’ll likely lose 10 percent of your body’s total muscle. Worse yet, it’s likely to be replaced by fat over time, says a study. This increases your waist size because one pound of fat takes up 18 percent more space than one pound of muscle.

You’ll Burn More Calories

Weights

Lifting increases the number of calories you burn while your butt is parked on the couch. That’s because after each strength workout, your muscles need energy to repair their fibers. In fact, researchers found that when people did a total-body workout with just three big-muscle moves, their metabolisms were raised for 39 hours afterward. They also burned a greater percentage of calories from fat compared with those who didn’t lift.

Lifting gives you a better burn during exercise too. Doing a circuit of eight moves (which takes about eight minutes) can expend 159 to 231 calories. That’s about what you’d burn if you ran at a 10-mile-per-hour pace for the same duration.

You’ll Get Into Shape Faster

The term cardio shouldn’t describe only aerobic exercise. A study found that circuit training with weights raises your heart rate 15 beats per minute higher than if you ran at 60 to 70 percent of your max heart rate. This approach strengthens muscles and provides cardiovascular benefits similar to those of aerobic exercise—so you save time without sacrificing results.

Looking for some inspiration when it comes to your workout? Check out our fitness features below.

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