You look down at the timer on the treadmill and it says 20 mins. You feel like you’ve been running for an hour. And you have another 30 mins to go. It feels like such a drag and the thought of another 30 mins seems so tedious. But you know you have to do it, as you need to burn fat and lose the belly. You do ‘cardio’ 4 to 5 times a week, you’re bored, your joints hurt, it takes so much time, and you haven’t seen ANY results.
I used to fall into this cardio trap. Anytime I wanted to shed fat or burn off what I ate, I thought I had to run it off. I would run miles, in hope of scorching body fat. I did this for years, and over time, my joints started to hurt, I was bored out of my mind and didn’t see any changes in my body. It’s not until I discovered resistance training that real results started to happen. I spent less time in the gym, I varied my workouts which made it more fun and saw real changes in the shape of my body.
Being ‘toned’ and wanting more ‘shape’ are things I often hear from clients. And people are surprised when I tell them that resistance training is the most effective way to transform their body. Unfortunately, the majority of people think that lifting weights will make them bulky. Which it will not. Over consuming food and sitting around make us bulky.
Let’s have a look at why cardio isn’t effective. Excessive cardio eats into muscle tissue. It stresses out our central nervous system, metabolism, adrenals and hormones. Which doesn’t put us in the best position to repair and rebuild our bodies. Have you ever seen a marathon runner with a nice booty and legs?
Resistance training pretty much does the reverse. It releases hormones that helps build muscle and stimulate metabolism. Muscle is metabolically taxing, in that our body needs more calories to keep it, and this raises our metabolism at rest. When we build more muscle, we burn more calories.
There are a host of other advantages to resistance training that are not linked to improved body composition. Such as improvement in bone mass, it helps improve our posture, aids against age related muscle loss and strengthens our ligaments and tendons which protect our joints.
There are a few other factors to consider when it comes to Resistance training and fat loss.
IMPROVED INSULIN SENSITIVITY
This is how efficiently the body uses food as fuel. Especially carbohydrates. Regular resistance training allows the body to store carbohydrates into the muscle cells instead of body fat. This rebuilds tissue, and is easily stored as muscle fuel helping you train harder in your next session.
RESISTANCE TRAINING BURNS MORE CALORIES
Cardio doesn’t really elicit a fat burn effect until the 45min to 1 hour mark. And even then it isn’t an efficient way to burn body fat. Resistance training demands the body to pull in more oxygen, and you continue to keep pulling in oxygen after training. This is known as EPOC (excess post exercise oxygen consumption) where the body oxidises fat, and cranks up the metabolism which can last for up to 36 hours after training.
Resistance training improves sleep. The body undergoes physical changes when you train which helps the body sleep better at night. Resistance training has been shown to help people fall asleep faster and sleep deeper which aids in balancing the bodies natural hormonal balance. This helps the body repair and rebuild muscle tissue, become more insulin resistant (which we know is a good thing) and regulates the metabolism. Which all helps you burn more body fat.
BETTER BODY COMPOSITION
Body composition refers to the ratio of lean muscle to body fat. Lifting weights helps build lean muscle tissue which eats into body fat and gives the shaped and toned look that people talk about. You want to balance the ratio of lean muscle to fat and resistance training has been shown to be the most effective. Growing and maintaining muscle isn’t easy as muscle breakdown is constantly occurring, which is why regular resistance training and good nutrition is key in maintaining the positive balance of more muscle and less body fat.
Muscle requires more energy than body fat to keep it on your frame. The raises metabolism and you’ll naturally burn more calories at rest than someone who doesn’t resistance train. This spike in metabolism will raise your total caloric intake and will have an array of positive effects on hormone production such as increased energy levels, better mood and quality sleep.
Cardio does have its place in a training programme, but it should not be the main focus if fat loss is the goal. Swap the treadmill or cross trainer for some dumbbells and a bench and start igniting the body to be an efficient fat burning machine.