I’ve been asked almost every fitness and health related question you could imagine. This is because I have worked as a professional in the fitness industry for over two decades. One of the most common questions I get asked is usually along the lines of, “which type of exercise is the best.”
I understand why everyone wants to know the answer to this. Most people aren’t “in love” with exercising (if they were, they would probably work in fitness), and most people don’t have tons of disposable time throughout their weeks. People want to be fit, healthy, strong, capable, and lean but they don’t want to waste time exercising in a way isn’t effective or efficient. When I consider the common context of life in modern societies, and add in the health issues that plague people in modern societies, the most effective form of exercise is easy to distinguish. Hands down, resistance training takes the honor as being the best.
Resistance training is a category of exercise that includes weight training, body weight calisthenics, resistance bands and kettlebells. It can loosely be defined as “exercising with resistance with the main goal and purpose of building muscle and strength.” You may be thinking to yourself “but my goal is to just improve my health and lose weight” or “I don’t really care about building a lot of muscle.” Before you write resistance training off, keep reading. Below I will highlight the reasons why resistance training simply is the best method of exercise for most people.
Before I get started, I need to paint the context of modern life. If you live in a first world society, you likely have a set of challenges that need to be considered. They are:
- Your life is very busy. Your schedule is jam packed with commitments ranging from work to family.
- Your life is very sedentary. Modern societies have done an amazing job of making life PHYSICALLY easy. We sit MOST of the time. Even though we are awake for 16-18 hours a day, the average American cumulatively only walks about an hour to two all day.
- You are surrounded by tasty, easy and cheap food. Modern societies have done such an amazing job at creating food that we are far more likely to die of too much food vs too little. You can get on an app and have almost any food you desire delivered to your door for a very affordable price.
Considering those things, you need a form of exercise that is effective in a short period of time. And, you need a form of exercise that can mitigate the consequences of not moving much and being around easy and tasty food.
One strategy might be to burn as many calories as possible through super intense cardio workouts. The problem with that option is just how ineffective it actually is. A good and hard 1-hour workout MIGHT help you burn 400-500 calories. Once the workout is finished, the extra calorie burn is over. Also, consider that you would have to do that every single day in order to really make a dent. Finally, the biggest consideration is understanding how the body learns to adapt to those kinds of workouts.
Your body learns to get better at whatever workout you do. Getting good at endurance (which cardio workouts train) means your body learns to burn less calories to become efficient. And, since endurance workouts don’t require much strength, you lose muscle. Studies show that weight loss from diet plus cardio results in more than half of the weight coming from muscle. That means your body learns to burn LESS calories over time. Not a good thing for long term success.
Another strategy is to teach your body to burn more calories on its own. How do we do this? By building muscle! With resistance training you are primarily asking your body to become stronger and, since muscle is a very active and calorie hungry tissue, your metabolism speeds up. Instead of needing to do an hour of intense cardio daily in order to burn 400-500 calories, you could theoretically teach your body to do that naturally. Imagine just going about your day and burning as many calories as if you did an hour of cardio. By the way, you don’t need a ton of muscle to do this. I routinely see this kind of metabolism boost in my clients.
The best part is that resistance training doesn’t need to be done every day to be effective. In fact, for most people, daily resistance training would be ineffective. For the majority of people who are looking for a fit, healthy body with a faster metabolism, 2-3 days a week of 45-minute resistance training workouts is more than enough.
Minimal time, maximum results. The metabolism boosting effect also keeps ramping up the longer you are consistent. This makes resistance training perfect for long term results. You also sculpt your body and make it firmer and stronger. Eat more, stay leaner and look fit with minimal time. Nothing can do this quite as effectively as resistance training.