Weight training is this super scary, underworld activity performed by huge muscle bound men and looking at a dumbbell is enough to build huge muscles! The truth is, as any man will know who's tried to gain muscle, it's not quite so easy.
Weight training is an excellent way to reduce body fat, tone up, firm up and increase muscular strength and fitness. If you are a women concerned about using weights for your workout or to lose weight, it's time to think again, it's one of the most effective methods to stimulate weight loss and maintain your desired weight.
The difference between the huge weight lifters and women wanting to lose weight and tone up. When it comes to training it's all about freqancy & intensity or more simply reps, sets & weight. Its how we train not the training that will dictate muscle size, tone and strength.
Why weight training is good for weight loss
Increasing muscle fibre by stimulating the body to build more muscle fibre through resistance based training increases a person's metabolic rate (how many calories they burn a day) that's because muscle requires more fuel just to be sustained, therefore the more muscle we have the more calories are needed each day to keep it, providing we keep the stimulation active (weight training), muscle size and tone will remain steady.
A little analogy to explain this simply - If you build an extension to your house, you have a larger house, it looks better, people might even notice and comment on it. However having a larger house creates more work, we have to maintain the extra space, clean it etc which takes time and effort.
I'm sure you have heard of the saying 'if you don't use it, you lose it' well if you remove the stimulation, the body will react and go into reversibility, reducing muscle strength and size. Your body is built to adapt, if you provide nothing to adapt to, it will adapt to that by reversing muscle size and strength.
Increasing metabolic rate is one of the most fundamental parts of weight loss, combined with a healthy and slightly reduced calorie intake you will soon be losing weight, if you are not looking to lose weight then the increase muscle size and tone will aid in maintaining your size and shape when combined with healthy eating and an active lifestyle.
Aside from the benefits of building muscle, the act of building muscle contrary to popular belief does indeed burn calories and does get the heart going. When you stimulate a muscle through muscle contraction, blood is diverted to this area to facilitate the desired action, and the muscle responsible for doing that is the heart. That's why when you perform compound exercises (those that require more than one muscle group) you might often feel out of breath or that your heart is going. This type of metabolic training contributes to weight loss and fat burning.
What frequency & intensity tones muscle?
As we have already mentioned, it's about the freqancy & intensity not the exercise, although training programmes can get quite complicated and everyone is different, as far as reps and sets go in order to build muscle to tone with some strength gains we need to train on the low end of the hypertrophy scale (hypertrophy is increasing the size of muscle).
That's about 12-15 reps starting at 2 sets up to 3
This is a general guide but it's what you should be aiming for, there are various types of training that can be conducted to achieve tone & definition and described above is a basic set.