We’ve all heard it….you have to do cardio to lose weight. You have to run to get in shape. Hit that elliptical and burn calories to shed inches. Right? What if I told you that that’s only partly true?
Yes, cardio burns more calories for the duration of the activity than weight training, but when you’re done with cardio, the calorie burn stops. Weight training burns fewer calories for the duration, but the burn continues in the form of tissue replenishment, repair, muscle building, and muscle maintenance.
Think about it in terms of a short term versus a long term investment. Yes, cardio will help you lose more weight in the immediate future. But, weight training consistently and building muscle tone is an investment in your weight loss for your long-term future. Lifting is an investment in your metabolism for the years to come.
Muscle mass takes up less space than fat tissue (significantly less) and it takes more calories for your body to maintain it than fat tissue. So, the more muscle mass you have, the more calories your body will use up just doing daily life. Don’t get me wrong–cardio is still hugely important and absolutely necessary for cardiac health as well as body fat loss. But weight training should be equally important in the process of becoming healthier and leaner.
There is also a correlation to lifting heavy weights in building muscle and leaning out than keeping the weight light for high volume of reps. The heavier weight you use, the more muscle fibers, your body will recruit to do the work. Our bodies are built for survival and will use the path of least resistance to accomplish a task. That means, if it can get the job done while only using half of the muscle fibers in your muscle group, it will! Unless, that is, you give it a big enough challenge that requires more fibers helping out. That’s why those 3lb dumbbells need to go and you need to challenge the strength of your muscles, not just the endurance.
Typically, I like to recommend people 3-4 sets of 12-15 repetitions. This is actually considered low weight and high rep. What that means is, the weight should be light enough to be able to complete all 12 or 15 repetitions, but heavy enough to where more than 15 is impossible. So if you’re smoking those sets quickly without needing to rest, or if you’re able to do 17 or 20 reps, it’s too light to do you any good. Go grab those heavier weights!! I guarantee that it will be uncomfortable at first. And sometimes it can be intimidating to venture to heavier weights in the gym. But I also guarantee that magic happens when you’re outside your comfort zone!
Now, a lot of women are concerned with “bulking up” from lifting weights. And in the future I’ll probably address this issue in it’s own post. But, in short, because of our hormone profile, it’s actually extremely difficult for women to get that bulky look naturally. And by naturally, I mean without the help of legal and/or illegal supplements. Men are able to achieve a bulky muscular physique because of their testosterone. Now, women have trace amounts of testosterone naturally, but only a tiny fraction to what men produce daily. That’s why men are typically able to lose weight more easily than women. Testosterone boosts their metabolism, causing them to burn generally 1,000 more calories per day just existing. Because we only produce trace amounts of testosterone, lifting heavy will help our bodies utilize what is there more effectively and improve our bodies response to weight training as well as recovery. Besides, can you ever be too strong?
Increasing your strength will never reduce your femininity. You are a woman, you are feminine. Society likes to tell us what femininity is because they like to make money off of selling us their ideas. The ways in which corporations try to profit from selling women the belief that their bodies need to look a certain way is extensive. That being said, increasing your strength won’t necessarily increase your size if that’s a concern. There are female power-lifters that can dead lift over 500 pounds, and by looking at them, they just look like athletic women. Wearing normal clothes, you would never guess that they were 5 foot tall Amazon warriors that hold world records for weightlifting.
So lift that weight. Get as strong as you can. Get curious to see what your body is capable of! It will help you out with your everyday life, your health, and your journey to weight loss. If you’re wondering how to start an effective weight training program check out my post where I talk about the basics of a lower body program. If you have more questions, reach out!! There’s so much to do and so many solutions to roadblocks that you should never be bored with your training!