Cardio exercise is an important piece of the weight loss puzzle, but it is only one piece. In recent years, however, more and more people have become convinced that you can only lose weight through cardio exercise.
You'll often hear people saying you just have to "get on the treadmill" when offering up weight loss advice.
But here's the truth:
You could run all day and still undo all of your weight loss efforts by overeating. Furthermore, if you launch into cardio without proper strength training, you really risk injuring yourself.
That's certainly not going to help with your weight loss!
So, what are you supposed to do? Those at the beginning of their fitness journeys, or those who are frustrated with the results they are currently seeing, might be tempted to take up 5K training or buy an elliptical, but that's not going to be your best approach.
There is a better way, and that's what we’re explaining in this week's blog.
Myth: You Can Lose Weight by Just Doing More Cardio
Again, cardio is a really important part of a healthy lifestyle. It's good for your heart and has proven long-term benefits. However, it is not a magic weight loss pill.
Depending on intensity, an hour of cardio could burn anywhere from 200 to 600 calories. That's definitely not bad, but there's a way to get better results out of your hard work.
Truth: Cardio Combined with Strength Training Is a Better Solution
You should have a good mix of cardio and strength training days throughout your workout calendar. They are two sides of the same coin, and working on one will help improve your performance with the other.
One of the main reasons why people struggle with weight loss is that their metabolism is not what it used to be. Years of inactivity and poor eating will lead to a sluggish metabolism, making it harder and harder to lose weight.
By adding strength training to your exercise routine, you will help turn your body into a more efficient fat burning machine. This happens for two reasons:
1) After a good strength training session, your body will need to repair and build up muscle fiber. This requires your body to burn calories and fat long after your workout has finished.
2) As you build lean muscle, your body will actually burn more calories at rest. Muscle = metabolism, so without it, losing weight and keeping it off becomes impossible.
Myth: You Are Less Likely to Get Injured Doing Cardio
One of the reasons cardio is so attractive to people is because it seems easy. If you have a pair of sneakers and a front door, you essentially have everything you need to start running.
The problem is, if you begin a vigorous cardio routine without first building up the required muscle strength, you risk injuring yourself.
Truth: Strength Training Helps Prevent Injury
By building up muscle strength, you are not only increasing your power and endurance, you are also protecting your joints, and preparing your body for longer stints of cardio exercise.
Remember: train to run, don't run to train. Starting a new running routine without first building strength puts your knees, ankles, and hips at risk for injury.
So if you are thinking about getting started, I would recommend taking the following approach:
1) If you only have two days to exercise, just focus on strength training. You can always add some cardio at the end of your sessions, but you must be prioritizing muscle building and injury prevention.
2) When you start to introduce cardio, do low impact activities. While running is easy to do, it also puts a lot of strain on your joints. Instead, start with hiking up hills, going for a swim, or getting on a rowing machine. These will be better on your joints when you are starting out.
Myth: Vigorous Cardio is What Burns the Most Fat
Again, getting your heart rate up is a very healthy thing to do. It helps create a stronger cardiovascular system, leaving you less vulnerable to issues like heart disease.
It can also help increase your lung capacity over time, as well as build up your endurance for longer and more effective exercise sessions. While it's true that cardio will burn calories and fat, it is not the most efficient fat burning approach.
Truth: Muscle Mass Aids Fat Loss
When talking about muscle versus fat, you have to think in terms of overall body composition. Building up lean muscle requires a lot of energy and burns a lot of calories.
In short, strength training burns more fat than cardio does.
This has been proven in many studies, but here are just a few:
1) In this first article, the research shows that increased muscle mass has a significant impact on resting energy expenditure. In other words, the more lean muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest (i.e. you have a higher metabolism). This is important because you actually burn the most fat (as a percentage of total calories burned) at rest. So the higher your metabolism, the more fat you will burn.
2) In this second article, the research shows a direct connection between strength training and metabolism.
In short, the more muscle you have, the easier it is to burn fat. This is why experts always recommend strength training to young and old, male and female, beginners and experts. It is good for you no matter what.
What to do now
The most important thing to take from this article is that strength training is critical if you are looking to lose fat.
This doesn’t mean you have to stop your cardio. As the title suggests, a combination of strength and cardio training is really what will get you the best results.
The tricky part about strength training is that not everyone knows exactly what to do when it comes to lifting weights.
And this is where we can help.
Not only do we help create custom programs so that you are doing the right exercises for you and your goals, we also teach you how to do those exercises correctly so you don’t end up hurting yourself.
When you work out with us, you will be getting a safe yet challenging routine which will help build strength and endurance, and slowly re-sculpt your body by decreasing fat and increasing muscle.
So if you want help getting started, check out our 28-Day Kickstart Program where you will get the exact exercises you need while having a coach to show you how to do them correctly, and keep you accountable to your plan.
In this program you will get:
1) Full fitness and goals assessment Personalized fitness coaching to teach you the exact exercises you need to safely and effectively move better and build stamina
2) A simple meal plan to help you decrease inflammation
3) 1-on-1 success coaching to help guide you as you work to change your diet, exercise, and lifestyle habits
You can burn fat, get stronger, and have more flexibility and energy, you just need a program that can show you what is right for you.
Click here to learn more and take back control of your health and fitness today!
Mint Condition Fitness empowers people to take control of their fitness and fully enjoy the life they have built.