I used to spend hours doing cardio. Like many of you, possibly, I believed that the key to losing weight was running. I have some great or unfortunate news for you: cardio is not going to cut it. If you have been sweating away precious minutes on the elliptical, do me a favor and stop that now.
It all comes down to your long term goal plan. Cardio has its place, and depending on your goals you may need it more than others, but to sustain long term weight loss you need to make bench press your friend (along with a great diet).
Here is the skinny on lifting to lose weight:
- Lifting will not make you look bulky. I promise you this (If you are trying to look bulky, skip to my advice on lifting to gain). I have been lifting 5-6 days a week for months— do I look like the Hulk to you? No.
- Lifting will produce lean muscle mass. Even while resting, muscle requires more energy to just exist than the other tissues. The more lean muscle that you have, the more calories you burn just being alive. Lean muscle plus a great diet is the winning combination for weight loss—-all without even trying!
- Maximum calorie burn is all about high-intensity training. Work your muscles hard and give them a little rest. This is exactly what weight lifting does. You will work really hard for 1 set and then rest. Work. Rest. Work. Rest.
- Lifting takes so much less time. In 45 minutes at the gym I can run 1 mile, lift a complete muscle group, and then stretch or wander about watching basketball. The point is, in 45 easy minutes I burn the same, if not more, calories than an hour on the elliptical machine. Additionally, I burn more calories through out the rest of the day.
- Lifting with a buddy is fun! The gym has become a place for Preston and I to talk about our day and bond. When we are resting in between sets we discuss our day, our life, and what to eat for dinner. It is much more social than running side-by-side on a treadmill.
Since I made the transition from pure cardio to a combination, I have seen the results at a rapid rate. The 20-odd pounds that I have lost in the past 5 months can be largely attributed to my time with the weight racks. You can’t forget cardio completely though! I run 1 mile every day before I lift and sometimes do an interval sprint work out. My cardio rarely exceeds the 20 minutes for heart health, however.
While lifting gives you the best long term weight loss and muscle gain, it is also important to stay on top of your cardio. Increasing your cardio will make it easier to train longer and harder. Cardio is not necessary for me to lose weight, I just have to watch my diet. This led me to drop cardio from my routine. I kept losing weight, but the quality of my workouts decreased. I didn’t have the stamina to work out as intensely as I could when I was doing cardio. As a result of this, I wasn’t gaining muscle like I used to. After I figured this out I incorporated cardio back into my routine and my workouts started becoming a lot more productive.
Lifting is an essential factor in gaining muscle, so you need to start picking up the weights:
- Tearing of the muscle fibers while lifting weights stimulates muscle growth. Without the tearing of the fibers there can be no muscle growth.
- Getting enough rest between sets can help tear more fibers in additional sets.
- You should shoot for 3 sets of 10-15 reps.
- As soon as you get comfortable with a weight you should increase it.
Today at the gym, try out a machine or two! By incorporating weight lifting into your workout plan, you will begin to see amazing results.
Stay consistent out there