Oftentimes weight training gets a bad rep. There are many reasons why people don’t like to lift weights. For a lot of people, they believe cardio is the best way to lose weight and burn fat. Lifting weights simply isn’t worth it. Some individuals feel like they don’t know what they are doing despite having an idea of exercises and watching people work out. Another big reason is people don’t want to get bulky. Although this pertains to mostly women, it’s true for men too. The goal for almost everyone is to lose weight and look good.
Now, these are all valid reasons. Cardio is definitely a great way to burn fat and calories. Lifting weights does take a little bit of practice to understand form and how to contract your muscles. And lifting heavy could bulk you up. However, these are only part of the real truth. Below we will discuss these topics and several more benefits of weight training. Not only will weight training benefit what you see on the outside, but it’s also a blessing to what’s inside.
Burn More Fat With Weight Training
There is no doubt that cardio burns some serious calories (if you take it seriously). I mean, anyone could tell from the sweat dripping down their body. But it’s that huff and puff while pouring sweat that makes people feel like they are torching the fat and cardio is working. At the gym, calorie-burning counters on the machines accentuate this feeling. “Wow I burned 500 calories this makes up for lunch!” While yes you did burn a ton of calories, did you really burn fat? Did you really burn those al pastor tacos and chips?
By the time you get to your cardio in the evening, your body already used the (poor) nutrients from your lunch for all different areas of your body. What’s more, consistent cardio forces your body to adapt. This means your body knows to save some energy for that cardio. So you’re essentially burning less than what you think. Also, your body adapts by using protein as an energy source because fat has more calories and thus energy. Your body uses a built in mechanism that’s been there for thousands of years where it saves the crucial fat for desperate times. These desperate times are when our ancestors used to hunt for weeks and had limited food.
By combining weight training with cardio, you are telling your body to utilize protein for muscles and burn fat instead. A study by Villareal, D., et. al. in 2017 compared cardio-only routines to a combination of cardio and weight training. Of the 1411 individuals in the study, everyone had greater weight loss and improved physical performance in the combination group.
Many other studies show cardio-only routines actually slows down metabolism. This is because of the adaptation mentioned earlier where the body stores energy for the cardio session. These studies go on to indicate a combination routine actually increases your metabolism. In fact, your metabolism is boosted very high for several hours after exercise. Although it drops a bit, metabolism will stay elevated for 24-48 hours post-exercise. So start including weight training to burn that stubborn fat!
Weight Training is Actually Easy
A lot of people, and again this are mostly women, don’t really know where to begin when it comes to weight training. It really is a little daunting at first. I understand that for women, seeing all these crazy people doing crazy workouts (men) turns them off from weights. But if you can ignore other people and focus on your workout, you will find lifting weights is easy.
There is no need to complicate things in gym. Men and women need to stick to really short list of exercises. These exercises include: squats, deadlifts, pull-downs, rows, shoulder presses, bench presses, and lunges. This list might be shorter for women as they don’t really need to bench. Sticking to these exercises, you can sculpt the body of your dreams.
The reason why these are the best exercises is that they are compound movements which work multiple muscle groups at a time. They require almost the whole body and in turn they burn an insane amount of calories. And they’re easy! Anyone can learn these movements in a day and start benefitting from them. Examples of how to structure a week including these exercises are:
1. Leg Day
This first day of weight training should focus on legs. You would do squats, deadlifts, and lunges. That’s it! Combine it with a little cardio and you’ve got a killer workout.
2. Pressing Day
Since the exercises on the leg day incorporate a little back, its best to give your legs and back a little rest and focus on pressing movements. These include: bench presses and shoulder presses. If you want a little HIIT style workout you can do squat thrusts which includes a shoulder press as you press up. This workout is easy! Add a couple extra sets to really burn those shoulders!
3. Posterior Muscle/Pull Day
Your posterior muscles are the muscles on the backside of your body. Now that they have a little rest, you can hit them fully. Do your pull-downs and rows and then finish off with some deadlifts. This day is also easy but burns an insane amount of calories.
Really, that’s it. Three days of working is pretty standard and you will totally see the difference in your body after some time. You can weight train Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and that will allow the perfect amount of rest time for your muscles.
Weight Training Will NOT Make You Bulky
It is a total myth that women get bulky from lifting heavy weights. Scientifically, women simply don’t have enough testosterone to bulk up and build huge muscles. In fact, the same goes for men in that most won’t bulk up.
The only way men and women can bulk up is by eating a surplus of calories which will cause a weight gain. This combined with heavy weight training can definitely bulk anyone up. But almost everyone is watching what they eat so they burn more calories than what goes in.
If you have a good diet, weight training will only benefit you. Studies have shown that weight training only routines burn almost as much fat as cardio only routines in the long run. In order to burn the most fat and lose the most weight, including weight training and cardio is a must.
Here are some tips on working out to help burn fat while building muscle.
1. Shorter rest breaks
It seems like people are taking mini-vacation between sets at the gym. They’ll go on their phone and watch a movie, then people watch for a bit, then think about dinner, then drink their BCAAs or whatever drink they have, and then they will think about the next set. To maximize muscle growth and weight loss, keep your rest times to 30 seconds to a minute max.
2. Higher repetitions
Instead of breaking your back for those 4 reps so you look cool, put your ego to the side and hit 12-15 quality reps. Maybe on your last set you can hit 8 reps, but no less. You want to be pushing blood into your muscles and toning them up. You aren’t competing to be the world’s strongest.
3. Compound movements
You want to stick to multi-joint, multi-limb movements to achieve maximum muscle growth. These compound movements like the ones listed above will get your heart pumping much faster and harder than from isolation exercises.
Increase Bone Density
There are many other benefits to weight training. One of these is increasing bone density. As you workout, the weight places stress on your bones. Your muscles also tug on the bones placing more stress on them. Cells in your bones respond by moving more minerals to the bones making them sturdier. The cells also produce more proteins to aid in structure.
Increasing bone density is especially important for women since they run a higher risk for osteoporosis. Weight training can significantly decrease that chance by strengthening the bones so they aren’t so brittle.
Improved Cardiovascular Health
Although weight training doesn’t work the heart as hard as cardio, it still impacts heart health. Depending on what type of exercises you perform, you can really work on your heart. Studies show blood pressure can be decreased by up to 20% from weight training. In the long run weight training will decrease risk for multiple cardiovascular diseases.
Reduce Risk for Diabetes
We all know exercising will help reduce risk for diabetes. But a study by The Archives of Internal Medicine shows that just weight training alone can decrease risk of diabetes by 34%. Combine weight training with cardio and you can reduce risk by up to 59%!
Weight training can also help control blood sugar levels. The growth of white muscle as a result from lifting weights causes more glucose to be taken up by muscle. This is beneficial if you have diabetes or are at risk.
Weight training works on all of our muscles, not just the main ones we see. Tiny stabilizing muscles are all around the body and do exactly what they are named. By lifting weights, you are also training these muscles. In the long run, you will have much better stability and balance. This is important because you get older as the leading cause of injury-related death over 65 is falls.
You Will Become Stronger Mentally
Becoming stronger physically will in turn make you stronger mentally. Overcoming the challenges that come along with weight training builds character. There are times we don’t want to workout, or continue working out. Sometimes we want to get to 12 reps but our legs are on fire. Heck, overcoming the fear of being at the gym with people looking at you is hard too. Persevering through these challenges will carry over to all aspects of your life.
You’ll Look Better
This one is obvious but weight training tones your muscles helping you look better. Just by doing cardio you will lose some fat and weight, but when paired with weight training your body will look amazing. When you look good you will also feel better about yourself. So start training!
If you were skeptical about weight training you now have plenty of reasons to start. Weight training and cardio is the magic combination to lose weight and tone up. For the people who care about the inside more than the outside, know that weight training has ample benefits on your bodily systems and well-being. Start training!
If you want structure for your diet and workouts, Modern Fit can provide tailored fitness and nutrition plans to help you lose weight quickly and efficiently. Whether you like to workout at home or at the gym, Modern Fit has you covered.