If only I had dollar for every time I heard phrases like, "I just need to burn some of THIS fat off" (while pinching belly fat or love handles) or "I'm just going to get on the elliptical for like 2 hours a day so I can be skinny" or "I know I need to lose weight but I hate cardio!"
First off, who in the world DOESN'T hate cardio? It's of the devil. We know this. Jesus never would have created something so torturous. But more importantly, why are there still so many people out there under the impression that cardio is the best way to burn fat and lose weight? Are these the same people that still believe that high cholesterol is caused by egg yolks and red meat? Lord, help us all.
Here are the facts:
1. Cardio burns more calories DURING bouts of moderate to high intensity training BUT lifting weights burns more calories POST WORKOUT. This is because weightlifting boosts your metabolic capacity, which enables you to burn more calories at a faster rate while at REST!! Some studies have even shown that metabolism can be boosted for up to 38 hours post-weight training workout! Cardio activities, such as running or swimming, will help you burn more calories than weight lifting but won't automatically help you burn more FAT. Since the body uses fat for fuel while at REST, the after-burn effect becomes a key part of the weight loss process.
2. Weight lifting enables you to build up a larger degree of lean muscle mass, which then basically serves as a calorie-burning powerhouse in the body! So, the more muscle you have on your body, the higher the rate of calories you will burn at rest. (which is why men can usually eat more than females without gaining weight--they have more lean muscle mass--which yes, they need to be resented and hated for. Am I right??)
3. Weight lifting allows you to reshape your body while losing weight. Whereas steady state cardio, like jogging or the elliptical, does not. Cardio will help aid in weight loss but much of the time it will also cause muscle loss. The exception to this can be HIIT (high intensity interval training) and that is a whole other blog post. With steady state cardio, you will end up being a smaller version of yourself for sure, but without having as much definition and shape to your body. And personally, I want to LOOK like I could beat up a scary dude if I needed to. Ya know?
4. Now to give cardio some love, I will add this final truth. Cardio promotes cardiovascular health since your heart and your lungs work harder for longer while you are doing it. So I'm not saying to eliminate cardio completely from your routine but I am saying to let go of your old school beliefs that it is absolutely necessary to achieve fat loss. It's not. In fact, I had a training client years ago who was 54 years old and about 30 lbs overweight. She spent one year training weights only with me. No cardio. I couldn't even talk her into going on regular walks. She hated it! But she would come 3 days a week and strictly do strength training for 40 minute sessions. Deadlift, squat, bench and accessory lifts. She did clean her diet up though so that of course is always a MAJOR factor. She lost those 30 lbs and still maintains a healthy body weight while still doing ZERO cardio.
Regardless of all of the facts, research, and studies that are out there on this topic, most people will still feel like they did more, burned more calories and fat, and worked harder in a workout when they are lying in a puddle of their own sweat once they are done. For some reason, this out-of-breath-feel-like-I'm-dying-unable-to-move-now state of being is what people need to be satisfied that they did their body good and had a successful workout. When in reality, this isn't necessary. I agree that sweating it out has its benefits and having an insanely tough workout can be beneficial for both body AND mind.....but just know that it isn't the only way to get and stay in shape.
I weight train 5 days a week, for 30-45 minutes and then go on a 10 to 30 minute walk. (depending on how much time I have that day) I rarely sweat during this workout, especially in the winter. I really enjoy lifting weights and increasing over time the weight that I lift. (this is called progressive overload and is a great way to improve body composition) I am a firm believer that GETTING STRONG IS VITALLY IMPORTANT TO OUR HEALTH AND WELLNESS! Especially as we age. I plan to be an 80 year old grandma with a rockin' hot bod who can lift a 36 pack of bottled water into my grocery cart like it's nothing! #goals
Feel free to reach out to me or comment below if you are tired of the elliptical and ready to try something different. I can help you with programming a simple weight lifting regimen that will both strengthen and shape your body WHILE promoting fat loss.