“Should I do more cardio?”
(Read: The information here is intended for folks seeking body composition change, and isn’t applicable if the primary training focus is improving athletic performance. You won’t often hear me tell my Ironman athletes that they need to run less…I send exclusive insights on health and fitness to my email list weekly. Be sure to sign up to receive insights I don’t share on the blog. ———> http://eepurl.com/b4hzJH )
A common question I hear from clients is that they need to do more steady-state cardio to achieve their weight loss goals. False.
Steady-state cardio (heart rate BPM of 120-140 for duration of the activity) can have its place within a weight loss or fitness regimen, but oftentimes, will not be the factor in a client achieving their weight loss goals. Don’t get me wrong, steady-state cardio has its place (re: what I wrote above), but it is not the way to long term weight loss. For example: If a client is lifting weights 3 times a week and is biking or hiking 1-2 times a week yet don’t see the weight loss goals they desire, one of the first things I’ll ask is
“What are you eating?”
Cardio can be a cover-up.
Oftentimes people turn to cardio in an attempt to “cover up” the effects of lifestyle factors. Throwing additional cardio at the problem will only work for a little while and before long, you may find yourself stuck again.
Most commonly, I see people who “eat bad” and then attempt to “make up for it” by doing more cardio to “burn it off.” Using movement as a form of punishment is never a good idea. I consider all movement to be a form of self-care, so to punish ourselves for our “bad” behavior of drinking or eating is to take away the enjoyment and pleasure from training – as well as the enjoyment we experience from food and drink! If I indulged all weekend in libations and cake, I use the food as fuel for my next workout – to power me through a set of squats or pull ups, not to beat myself down.
Cardio, Fat Loss, and Food, Booze and Sleep
If someone comes to me looking to lose weight, I’m going to look at the whole person. The whole picture. We don’t gain weight in a bubble or overnight, and we don’t lose it that way either. Most people working out and looking to achieve some weight loss, I recommend cardio interval training at the end of each weightlifting session. That can be 15-20 minutes of 1 minute on and 2 minutes recovery of any high powered, all out activity. If you enjoy sprinting stairs, try adding sprint intervals in the above fashion to your routine. Prefer pushing a sled or prowler: add the interval component to it and feel the burn. But this is my approach to a well-rounded exercise training program. If a client is looking to achieve specific weight loss goals – the focus, for me, will be on diet. Weight loss happens when the body is in a caloric deficit. A deficient can be achieved by eliminating fried, processed foods (calorie dense foods) from your daily intake of calories, increasing the amount of vegetables you consume (they also have the “side effect” of helping you feel full), and making sure every meal includes protein – a critical nutrient for muscle growth and recovery from exercise.
Sleep aids the body’s natural ability to repair and recover. For anyone training for weight loss, giving your body plenty of sleep is imperative. Sleep restores your hormones and muscles, as well as enables you the proper cognitive ability and clarity to make conscious health decisions in the day to day.
Are wonderful and delicious and great in moderation. I want to be clear here: for most people to achieve their weight loss goals, some reduction of overall alcohol consumption is essential. I’m sorry, there’s no way around it.
The other common question I’m often asked, and mostly by women, is “Won’t lifting weights make me bulky?”
Short answer: No.
Long answer: Still no, but let me elaborate.
Most people can benefit from regular weightlifting. My clients range from your typical 20-30 something’s looking to lose weight and feel better about their bodies, 40 something competitive endurance athletes, to 60 somethings looking to prevent injuries, muscle atrophy, and increase their functional movement in everyday life. All of these people lift weights 2-3x a week. Aesthetically, they look fit. Some, more than others.
More muscle = more fat burned. Muscles consume more energy and thus burn more calories. After an intense weightlifting session, the body can continue to burn calories (EPOC) for up to 24-36 hours post workout. This results in an overall increase in your caloric deficit (if looking lean is the goal, this is the way to achieve it).
Weightlifting reduces the effects of aging by 10 years at the cellular level. Ya. I’ll leave this one right here. You can read a study about the cellular impacts of weightlifting here.
You cannot change the way your body is genetically predisposed to building muscle. The urban myth of leaning out a muscle group is just that, a myth. Your muscle fibers are created at conception and through weightlifting, those muscle fibers will increase in volume. If a client’s goal is to “tone” I’ll keep their workouts in the hypertrophy range until they become comfortable with the concept of weightlifting and if they want to continue to advance their workouts, I’ll change their rep/set/weight scheme. Lifting weights won’t make you bulky, ladies. If you stick with it lifting weights will have this effect on your body: your glutes will be higher and tighter and rounder, your hamstrings and quads will be rounder, tighter, firmer and bigger. Your arms will look strong and your back will be the canvas in which an artist will want to create a masterpiece.
What do you think? Are you a steady-state cardio queen looking to switch up your routine in order to maximize your time in the gym? Or do you want to understand how lifestyle habits impact our weight loss journey and health? I want to hear from you. And if you want to start getting exclusive health and fitness insights from me, make sure you’re on my email list – every week I send out high quality insights that I don’t share here on the blog ——–> http://eepurl.com/b4hzJH