Lift Weights to Lose Weight
So, you've been running, spinning, walking, dancing...all to get the cardio you think will help you lose weight and yet, you are not losing. This makes no sense. How can I get this sweaty, push so hard, and not see my waistline shrinking? Let's break it down. While you are performing your cardio exercise, you are burning calories, right? Right. This cardio is good for calorie burn, endorphins, and it is also good for your heart BUT, your calorie burn ends shortly after you stop moving...like 30-80 calories later. Boo!
Cardio has it's place, but what about strength training/ weight lifting? While it is true that cardio burns more calories per minute than lifting weights, it is a minimal difference (12 calories per minute with cardio and 10 calories per minute while strength training, roughly, and depending on your personal exertion). The fantastic thing about strength training is the after burn. Your body has to work extra hard to recover after strength training and so works for 24-36 hours burning calories as it is repairing those muscles you are building. It is not a ton...maybe close to 10+ calories an hour extra from your normal calorie burn....but if you add that up over 24-36 hours, that is a bonus 240-360 (a medium Mocha Latte's worth) of calories you burned while folding laundry, sitting in traffic, and watching TV. Add that up over 3-4 weight training sessions a week and you are losing weight, specifically fat, and are building muscle.
But will I bulk, you ask? If you are a dude, yes. If you are a woman with normal testosterone levels, no. Not unless you focused on heavy lifting for hours and hours and days and days like a weightlifter preparing for a competition....an hour or two a few times a week can never produce those results. What you will do is replace the space occupied by fat with muscle and get the kind of curves you want. Plus, muscle uses more energy than fat, and therefore burns more calories during your resting periods, so you will increase your metabolism and lose more weight.
In short, cardio has it's place in your fitness routine, but if your routine lacks strength training, your results will be slow and less impressive. So, pick up some weights....heavy ones...for me, I measure heavy weights by a weight that is challenging to complete 15 repetitions and varies between 8-20 lbs, depending on the size of the muscle I am working. If you are new to using weights, start with something between 3-10lbs and adjust according to whether you can complete 15 repetitions...do some squats, work towards real push-ups, and watch the shape, strength, and health of your body improve.
I plan to put out some easy, at home workouts using weights and body weight strength training this week. On them I will include tips on form, combo moves, how to measure gains and know when it is time to move up weight. Also, if this concept is new to you and you have access to a Group Fitness class where using weights is included, make use of that.