Do you exercise, but rely on cardio to “trim down” the undesired fat?
If you do, don’t worry. You’re not alone.
But what if I told you that cardio alone isn’t enough? Because it’s not (and never will be) … not if you want to rid yourself of unwanted fat and keep it off.
And who doesn’t want to do that?
So, instead of you slogging through another hour-long elliptical workout that could actually be doing more harm than good, I’ll tell you the simple solution that does work: mixing cardio with weight training.
Settle down … I don’t want to turn you into Roids McDougal
Many people hear words like “strength” and “resistance” in relation to training and are immediately turned off.
They don’t like the idea of looking like the plate-stacking, squat-grunting meatheads that we all see walk around any time we go to the gym.
But before you dismiss this as just another “body builder-esque” segment, understand this: by no means am I suggesting that you “bulk up” or train like a supplement junkie. They have very different goals than you.
They want biceps the size of football helmets. You just wants to burn fat.
“Weight training” simply means any exercises that involve weight or resistance (i.e. pushups, dumbbells, bands). And adding a few simple exercises to your already-established cardio routine will result in faster fat burning and better success keeping the fat off long-term.
(Note: this article just provides an overview. These concepts will be expanded on in future articles.)
1. Change it up with weights
Our bodies are masters of adaptation.
When you repeat the same routines, you burn fewer calories each time. And if your diet doesn’t change, you actually end up gaining weight.
Sometimes we discover how to switch up our cardio routine for our bodies, but without guidance this is not typically successful.
Weight training is how we use the extra fuel that exists in our bodies. Using weights tells the fat cells to spring into action and help as fuel — so you end up burning more fat, as opposed to just carbs.
Here’s a general idea of how to be efficient if you have 30-45 minutes for your workout:
- 8-10 minute cardio warm-up
- 15-25 minutes of weight training
- 7-10 minutes of cardio cool-down
- 5-10 minutes of stretching (more on this in a future article)
2. Weight training = cardio
Yes, I am boldly stating that weight training improves our cardiovascular and circulatory systems.
We are so used to associating words and imagery like “treadmill” and “running” with cardio that we forget weight training can provide many of the same benefits (plus others).
Physiology suggests that when we weight train, our anaerobic (without oxygen) pathway takes over during exercise while the aerobic pathway is in use at rest. This creates an oxygen debt within us, which must be repaid later on, even long after out exercising period (a process called E.P.O.C. — excessive post-exercise oxygen consumption).
Thus, when we take about 30-45 seconds to rest, then continue our weight training exercises, we alternate between these two pathways, ultimately forcing our bodies to adapt … and burn more calories.
3. Burn more calories by doing nothing
And for the record, I mean after doing weight training.
How? By a process called the “afterburn” effect — the same as E.P.O.C.
Put simply: after a workout, your body is prioritizing recovery.
After you weight train, your body makes the process of anabolic recovery (rebuilding) for your muscles a high priority. To do this, you use energy. This energy comes from your body’s stored calories. This is an increased BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) in order to accomplish the muscle repair.
Think of it as a “reward” for doing more exercise with your body.
So hit the weights, feel the burn, and shed the fat
In this post, I’ve provided a broad overview of the importance of weight training. Included are three basic yet extraordinarily beneficial effects of adding weight training to your cardio regimen.
The single most difficult element of any exercise program is sticking with it. But you are much more likely to stick with your program if you are seeing results.
You’re already working hard. You deserve to see those results.
So work smarter, not harder, by mixing consistent weight work in with your cardio.
You’ll burn fat, get stronger, and feel better.
Flickr Creative Commons image via Sotiris Kousoulos.