Cardio or Weights?
Should I do Cardio or Weights? I’m going to get straight to the answer and tell you that even though a lot of us think that in order to lose weight we need to spend our time doing hours of cardio, you will not lose weight by doing a bunch of cardio. So if you are trying to lose weight by going for 1 hour walks or runs, or going to the gym and spending 20 minutes on the treadmill, followed by 20 minutes on the stair master, followed by 20 minutes on the bike, please read this post carefully.
You will not lose weight by doing hours of cardio.
It pains me when I see people, especially ladies (but even men), working so hard in the gym, but just on the cardio machines. In my heart I think, ”WOW what stamina”, but at the back of my mind I know that no major/sustainable weight loss is going to happen for that person. Obviously I can not go up to people in the gym and tell them what I think (what I know) but I can say it here: ”Please stop doing excessive amounts of cardio and start looking at those weights.”
In a lot of gyms, women may feel intimidated to enter what appears to be the ‘male zone’ of the gym, but don’t be! Those lumps of heavy metal are the answer to a tighter butt, sexy arms and flatter tummies.
Ladies, weights will NOT make you bulk up like a man. If you have seen an image of a woman who is super muscular, I can assure you that this is not going to happen to you. These women, build muscle like this after losing a lot of body fat, pushing the boundaries on their weight lifting and by eating very lean and specific diets and usually take supplements as well. I promise you are not going to bulk up.
Lifting weights helps you lose weight because muscle burns fat, so, the more muscle you have the more fat is burned. Excessive cardio can actually reduce your muscles, thus working against your weight loss goals. In fact this is something I have to watch when I play a lot of basketball. I think muscles look great. They give you shape and make you look toned, rather than wobbly.
Dealing with your excuses…
… But I have lost weight doing cardio!
Some of you might be saying, ‘but I have lost weight with cardio’, and I will tell you that I have too. The problem is that once your body adjusts to the amount of cardio you are doing it will not make much difference to helping you with your weight loss. So in other words, you will continue to get very fit and your stamina will improve if you push yourself faster and go longer distances but your fat will not budge.
… But I don’t go to the gym / I hate the gym
Instead of the word ”weights”, imagine I wrote this entire post using the word ‘resistance’. You can add resistance to your workouts easily. Even your own body weight can be a form of resistance. You should never start off doing heavy weights anyway, so allow yourself to grow into heavier weights. For example, start doing lunges down your hallway. This is a body weight exercise. Once you can do 20 with ease, add some weight, for example by holding two bottles of water whilst you do your lunges. Now you’re working your muscles a little harder. Just keep on adding weight (which is ‘resistance’) when the sets become too easy.
… so I shouldn’t do cardio at all?
No. I didn’t say that! It’s endless hours of cardio that I’m against. You just don’t need it unless you are in training for specific sports. Make cardio 20% of your workout. Use cardio to warm up and spend the rest of your time working on resistance based exercises. Some resistance based exercise can double up as cardio moves in any case, so if time is an issue of you then this is a double plus because you can get in your cardio and your resistance all in one!
… I don’t know what to do in the gym or where to start
Ask the gym instructor. They can help you set up a weekly program for you and show you the machines. I will often add workouts to this blog so keep checking back for more information about workouts. Check out these posts:
Resistance Weight loss routine
- 15 minute cardio warm up. Try and go all out. I do 15 minutes of 45 second sprints and 15 second rests. If you can’t do sprints for whatever reason, try and do a fast paced run, or short but fast intervals of skipping or jumping jacks! Get your heart rate going. If you need to rest that is fine. Try doing 20 seconds jumping jacks then rest for 10 seconds and go again. Work yourself up.
- Choose a muscle group per workout session. I like to split it really simply into ARMS and LEGS. I work out 4 times a week so I do ARMS/LEGS/ARMS/LEGS.
- Give yourself at least 24 hours to rest between each muscle group.
- If you are only able to work out 2-3 times a week then go for a circuit session that targets both arms and legs in the same session.
- Do 3 sets with 12 to 15 repetitions. Rest 20-30 seconds between each set and 1 minute between each exercise.
- Try and do 6 different ARM or LEG based exercises in the one session, or 3 of each if you are working on a circuit routine.
So now you know that weights burn fat more than cardio, are you up for the challenge? Start your weight loss journey and think resistance! I look forward to hearing about your results!
Note: if you are over 50 years of age, intense interval training is not recommended without prior consent from a doctor. If you are 50 plus, stick to longer sessions of light cardio and avoid impact based exercises. Walking and swimming are great. You can still use resistance, but not heavy weights. Good examples are water aerobics, resistance bands, some weight bearing exercises. Will try to get a post out about this shortly.