Our resting metabolic rate (RMR) is the rate at which our body consumes energy to perform basic metabolic processes like blood circulation, digestion, and breathing. In other words, this is the amount of calories we burn when at rest. Resting metabolic rate plays an essential role in improving our body composition because if we improve this number (burn more calories at rest) we will in turn burn more calories throughout everything we do in our day. We’ve broken down four key components to improving this number as well as some considerations to explore when evaluating our exercise regimen.
1) The variability in our resting metabolic rate is attributed solely to the amount of lean tissue (muscle) that you have on your body. The natural decline in your resting metabolic rate that occurs as you age is not due to chronological aging or menopause; it is due to a wasting away (atrophy) of muscle.
Consideration: Perform resistance exercise two times per week to regain or retain your muscle tissue and improve your metabolic rate.
2) Resistance exercise has a positive, ACUTE effect on resting metabolic rate. When you perform resistance exercise, your metabolic rate is elevated between 7-11% for the next 3 days (72 hours) following the workout. This is true for beginners and experienced exercisers alike.
Consideration: Perform resistance exercise to acutely improve RMR by 7-11% (this is the only type of exercise that has this effect).
3) Resistance exercise has a positive, CHRONIC effect on metabolic rate. When we add muscle tissue to any part of our body, we burn more calories constantly (awake or resting) to support that added muscle.
Consideration: Perform resistance exercise to chronically improve RMR by adding more muscle to the body.
4) Contrary to popular belief, cardio-respiratory exercise does NOT increase your metabolic rate. In fact, metabolic rate decreases temporarily after a bout of “cardio.”
Consideration: Do not perform “cardio” with the intent of improving your RMR.