If you’re a a cardio king or queen (i.e. someone who regularly does long bouts of endurance work, whether that’s hitting the trails on a run or slogging on the hamster wheel that is a treadmill or elliptical) – and you LOVE it – that’s awesome! Keep it up!
However, if your sole mode of exercise is cardio and you’re hoping to lose body fat and tone up your physique, there is a better, more effective way.
Hello, weight training.
Using weights – whether that’s dumbbells, kettlebells, bands, or simply any heavy object – builds more muscle tissue (remember: this takes at least 4-6 weeks of consistent strength training a few times per week), and more muscle tissue means a metabolism that destroys calories even while you are not exercising. But are calories the only factor when it comes to fat loss? No! The old assumption that it all just comes down to “calories in vs calories out” made us believe the mode of exercise wasn’t relevant, so long as we are burning calories. However, the missing piece to this thought is that weight training affects hormones differently than straight cardio – hormones like testosterone, growth hormone, and lactate – and these hormones build muscle and burn fat.
Yes, doing cardio will expend calories and can be an enjoyable way to get a sweat on, release toxins, increase heart and lung strength, and clear your mind. However, doing straight cardio with a goal of fat loss, can easily trap you into the ‘more is better’ mindset, often turning exercise into a guilt-infested competition with yourself to “go longer or it’s not worth it”. The reality is, duration rates second to intensity. If you want better results, go shorter (but HARDER!). And remember, harder is relative…harder to you might mean slowly walking up an incline on the treadmill while harder to someone else might mean sprinting intervals of 500m on the rower machine. It’s your body and your physiology, so You Do You. 🙂 The common factors when determining intensity is that you’re out of breath (but not about to pass out, obv) and can’t comfortably maintain whatever you’re doing for more than a few minutes. Coupled with appropriate rest and nutrition, this type of cardio will serve your fat loss goals much better than a heart rate that remains at a comfortable pace over a long period of time (called steady-state aerobic training).
2. Cardio bursts of higher intensity + weight training is a killer combo for making your body a calorie-burning machine not only while you are working out, but for up to 24-36 hours after exercise. When your body is more dialed-in (your heart is strong, your muscles fire when they’re supposed to) you just *feel* good! This is why we created our Metabolic Conditioning &Metabolic Strength (Hope College) classes and offer them at no extra cost for all our Semi-Private members.
We understand that knowing how to effectively weight train can be challenging, especially when you’re dealing with issues like not having exercised in years (or ever), aches and pains, or are simply feeling overwhelmed with time or paralyzed by information overload.
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