When people think fat loss and what it takes to achieve it, cardio is the first thing that comes to mind. The REAL trick to long term fat loss, and keeping it off is actually resistance training. Confused?
I’ll be touching on the details of the drawbacks of cardio vs resistance training, but be sure if you haven’t already to give Sal’s book The Resistance Training Revolution a look where he goes into further depth on this topic.
Short Term vs Long Term
The issue is most people are only looking at the short term picture. Yes, if your goal and timeline was only 6-12 weeks, and you didn’t care about your body after that, then cardio is the way to go. It’s going to burn the most calories in the quickest time.
What happens after that? How many times have you heard people do these insane cardio programs for weeks on end to get ready for a beach trip, or wedding, only to hear they not only gained the weight back, but added ADDITIONAL weight on top of that?
Your Metabolism Slows Down to More Cardio
Your metabolism is a VERY efficient machine. Think about elite athletes. One thing you’ll always hear is how low their heart rate is because all of the working out they do makes their body more efficient with oxygen. Now apply that to your cardio weight loss routine.
You run every day and in the first couple weeks the weight comes flying off. You think to yourself, “wow, this exercise really helps lose weight, let's do more!” So you go from 3 days of cardio to 6 days. The weight keeps coming off. Then it slows down. You are no longer losing as much weight as when you first started. So you add more cardio. The weight still isn’t moving. What happened?
Like I said about the athletes above, your body got more efficient with its calorie burn. While it was thrown off at first at this new stimulus of cardio (which is why you got away burning so many calories and losing weight), over time your body wants to adapt to this stimulus. So it learns to burn less and less calories. Which means you have to do more and MORE cardio just to get the SAME effect.
Cardio during a deficit of calories, and no weight training also will eat away at muscles. So ultimately you’ll just look like a smaller skinnier version of your previous self. Why not get some shape on your body while you’re at it?
Resistance Training Speeds UP Your Metabolism
On the flip side, having muscle is calorically expensive to have. The more muscle you have, the more calories your burn at REST. I’m talking about you just sitting around all day doing nothing. You burn MORE calories if you were the same weight, but more of it was muscle than before.
Your body has to rev it’s metabolism up just to keep up with the added muscle since it’s in constant need to repair, and upkeep.
So what does all this mean? You don’t have to pack on bodybuilder amounts of muscle. Choose whatever size you are happy with. My biggest point is to place MORE focus on resistance training. You may burn less calories in the beginning, but over a longer timeline you’ll be burning more calories. Not to mention, resistance training does a whole lot more than add muscle. It increases health and longevity, improves all health markers, lowers incidence of obesity, and much more. Let me put it this way, the MAJORITY of covid cases were linked to obese people. The percentage of people who got Covid that were eating healthy consistently and working out, was significantly less. Resistance training also reduces your risk for injury.
As we get older, we risk sustaining damaging injuries to our wrists and hips. Keeping a regular routine of lifting 2-3 times a week will help minimize the chance of suffering from a great fall, or breaking a bone.
1 Month Challenge
I challenge you for the next month to resistance train only two times a week. It can be full body, and just make sure you choose a weight that you can do for 6-10 reps. Make it heavy enough where by the time you hit 10 reps, you feel like you had maybe 2-3 reps left in the tank. Go higher, if it’s easier than that. Good luck!