Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Cardio vs Weight Training: Which one is better for losing weight?

So in my last blog post I talked about my newest endeavour with slow motion strength training. Which I love by the way. I have incorporated doing this super intense short workout twice a week into my routine and i am seeing super positive changes. My hubby also is doing this twice a week and is seeing gains after only 1 month. Pretty awesome stuff. 
While I am a now an advocate for incorporating this kind of work into my routines, I also am an advocate for just getting up and moving! I had a client ask me yesterday if it was OK if she did cardio or one of her classes she enjoyed so much on the days she didn't come work with me at the studio.
My answer to her was "of course!" I told her to listen to her body, make sure she was eating enough to support her level of activity, make sure she gets plenty of rest and to just be aware of how she is feeling. I told her that if she enjoyed her classes, enjoyed her walks, jogs, whatever then yes to absolutely continue with those activities, because they are fun and fun things get you excited about life. Fun things give your mind a chance to relax and enjoy your surroundings. Fun things give you something to look forward to.
Now, just to be clear, I am not an advocate for just weights or just cardio or just diet. All of these things need to come together to get your body to perform at peak level. For her specific goals, she has a tiny bit of belly that she is hoping to get rid of. Well boys and girls, guess what? ABS are made in the kitchen! You can do all the workouts you want, but if you are feeding your body crap, then you will feel like crap. Plain and simple. 
This brings me to today's topic. I found a great article from a Beachbody forum that pretty much sums it all up. 

If you're looking to lose weight, you might be wondering: Should I focus on doing cardio or should I weight train? The answer, for those of you not interested in hanging around for the "why" part of the answer, is both. What matters most is the way you train, the system you train under, and your lifestyle.
The cardio vs. weight lifting question stems from the days when "cardio" usually meant going to a low-level aerobic class and "weight lifting" meant spending a couple of hours in the “free weight room,” chatting with your buddies between attempts at "out-benching" each other.
These days, most workout programs incorporate both, often during the same workout. Most "cardio" work has an element of resistance training, either in the form of added weight or plyometric movements, while most "weight lifting" work has a cardio element because it's done in circuits.
There are two myths inherent in this age-old question. The first is that weight training will make you bulky. The second is that cardio doesn't build muscle. Let's dispel these once and for all.

Myth 1: Weight Training Will Make You Bulky

Gaining bulk is hard. I wish I had a nickel for every time I've seen a hardcore gym rat who's been lifting for months, desperate for a few pounds of lean muscle mass, blow his stack when he hears a woman say, "Weight training will make me bulky."
It takes a ton of energy for your body to add muscle. During the initial stages of any kind of intense training, especially one you're not used to, your body releases excess amounts of the hormone cortisol, which causes your body to retain water. Some people think this means they are bulking up when, in reality, it's just the body adapting to the training. It happens whether you are trying to gain or lose weight and has nothing to do with gaining actual muscle mass. Once your body adapts to the new training, the cortisol release ceases and your body flushes the excess water.

Myth 2: Cardio Doesn't Build Muscle

This second myth is trickier. Low-level, steady-state aerobic training will atrophy muscle, so it can be true. But "cardio" hasn't meant aerobic zone training since Richard Simmons' heyday in the 80s. Cardio is a catchall term for any training that elevates your heart rate for the entire workout. These days, since almost all weight training is done circuit style, your heart rate remains elevated during both cardio and weight training workouts. Modern cardio training is almost always an offshoot of interval training, which means it's a mix of aerobic and anaerobic training. And this builds muscle.

What Is the Best Way to Lose Weight?

The best way to lose weight is to follow a solid training system that targets weight loss. A system takes into account your entire lifestyle, workout, diet, sleep, and supplements. Why? Because all of these things affect your body's ability to change.
The key to weight loss is to change your metabolism. While it's easier to alter your metabolism through weight training than cardio, both will do it if the workouts are well designed. The word you're looking for to make this happen is intensity. By that, I mean you need to force your body to work in the anaerobic realm. Because your body depends on air to live, forcing it beyond its ability to breathe causes it to release performance-enhancing hormones to survive. When done consistently, these hormones change your metabolism.
Of course, you'll die if you stay in the anaerobic zone for too long, which is why you only do anaerobic work in short intervals. In between these intervals, your heart is working out aerobically to recovery. As long as the breaks between your anaerobic sets are strategic, you get a powerful cardio workout during every anaerobic workout. For example: circuit weight training—consisting of many sets to failure, with short breaks—is not only a great anaerobic weight training workout, but also a very effective workout for your cardiovascular system as well.
The next factor when it comes to boosting your metabolism and losing weight is recovering properly between workouts. This is why having a system is so important. Intense anaerobic training is stressful for your body. You need this stress to change your hormone balance, but if you overstress yourself, it will lead to problems in the form of overreaching and, if you do it too long, overtraining (both responsible for maladies from lack of results to injury or illness). A proper exercise program takes this into account by scheduling different styles of workouts next to each other to create a balance between intensity and recovery.
Your nutrition and lifestyle are very important for proper recovery. The better you eat, the faster you recover. Ditto for sleep. (I don't care how many episodes of Game of Thrones you need to catch up on.) Sleep is when your body produces its natural PEDs (performance-enhancing drugs). So get your shuteye!

To recap, whether your exercise routine is focused on cardio or weight training has very little to do with whether you'll lose weight. The best training programs have elements of both aerobic and anaerobic training and the important factors for weight loss are: pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone (aka intensity), eating enough to recover (but not too much), and resting enough between your workouts. Balance these factors correctly and your metabolism will shift and the pounds will melt away.

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