When we think of losing weight, the first two things that come to mind are eating less and doing cardio. And while both of those are critical for shedding pounds, strength training is also key.  

Why does that matter? Because lean muscle mass helps your body burn more calories while at rest. In other words, cardio burns calories while you’re doing it but not when you aren’t. In contrast, strength training helps your body continue to burn calories even when your workout has ended. Increasing your lean muscle mass can also increase your metabolism, which will help you break through those pesky weight-loss plateaus.

When you incorporate strength training into your workout routine, you may find that the scale doesn’t reflect your efforts as accurately as you may have expected. That’s because you’re probably building muscle, which weighs more than fat. The better approach is to measure your progress by how your clothes fit, muscle mass gained, and visceral fat loss (fat around your abdominal cavity). 

You still need to burn more calories than you take in—it’s simple math. An intense cardio workout will help you maintain the calorie deficit necessary to lose weight, but strength training will increase your endurance and ultimately help your body sustain the weight loss you’ve worked so hard to achieve. And don’t worry if you don’t finish your workout covered in sweat: sweating and caloric burn don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand.