By: Sean L. Green (Swole on Fitness)
I walk into the gym and see countless overweight people grinding away on treadmills, ellipticals and the bike hoping that the magic fat loss switch will turn on. Week after week they look the same until one day they stop coming to the gym all together on account that all motivation is lost by lack of results. Many are convinced that cardio alone is the secret to fat loss. What if there was a better way. I’m going to tell you why weight lifting is a superior method for reducing body fat levels and obtaining the prize physique you can take to the beach.
Most fat loss techniques are shrouded in mystery and confusion. Largely due to the fact that someone wants to sell you something. The proven methods are diet, cardio and the lesser known method is, weight lifting. Thats right, lifting weights is a way to lose fat. So before we get into exactly why weight lifting is the “cut above the rest” when it comes to body transformation we need to breeze over the two other methods first to help explain.
Many of us know what dieting is, it has been marketed to us our whole lives in TV commercials, web advertisements, our local gyms, even your personal trainer will sell you a diet that is “guaranteed to give results.” Few of us know exactly how to execute a diet properly. The basic way a diet works is limiting something in our daily intake.
For example, Macro dieting is the process of establishing the amount of calories we need a day based on age, height, current weight, body fat, activity level and then balancing those calories out over proteins, carbs and fats. This number of calories is called your Total Daily Energy Expenditure(TDEE) and from this number you reduce your calorie intake by a small percentage to enter a caloric deficit that will in turn, you guessed it, reduce fat.
Most “Fad” diets are unhealthy and produce results in the short term but do more harm than good in the long term. The Atkins Diet, The South Beach, The Hollywood Diet, and scariest of them all The HCG diet are hard to stay within the prescribed limitations of the diets themselves and when a client stops using the diet or enters “maintenance phase” the pounds come right back with some bonus pounds even in some cases.
When most are asked their plan for loosing weight they respond with some form of cardiovascular exercise be it the traditional forms of cardio(running, biking, stair climbing) or more extreme exercise regimes like P90X or Insanity. Cardio coupled with dieting will produce results. Many of us find cardio to be monotonous besides the fact that you feel like a gerbil going round and round on a wheel.
Cardio works by burning calories, more specifically to shortfall our daily total of our TDEE calories. The calories you burn while running on the hamster wheel take away from your daily totals therefor putting you in a shortage of your daily total.
The problems with cardio is; one, machines are seldom accurate at estimating calorie expenditure and two, your body will adapt to your cardio routine. When our bodies get acclimated to running 3 miles a day it recognizes how much energy we need for that specific activity and alters our metabolisms to better suit our lifestyle. Many have experienced this plateau effect and when the pounds stop falling off so does motivation. Some will respond to this by increasing the amount of cardio. The downside to this is that the body will continue to adapt to the changes until you require more cardio then you have time in the day to spend doing it. This physiological effect happens even while dieting.
Weight lifting is synonymous with building. We think of bodybuilding greats like Arnold Schwarzenegger and power lifters capable of lifting your car you just parked in the gym’s lot. The concept behind weight lifting is to break down muscle fiber on a microscopic level so that when the body goes to heal those tears it grows back stronger and larger.
Its easy to understand that the simple act of lifting something requires energy in the form of calories. We do it every day just by lifting ourselves out of bed, lifting our arms to take a sip of coffee and lifting our legs to step out the door. What makes weight training different is that we increase the resistance therefore requiring more from our muscles. We walk around all day yet we are never sore the next, this is because our muscles when we were growing up grew stronger and are able to cope with this simple daily task. On the other hand our legs are not accustomed to squatting with heavy weights leading to the dreaded post leg day Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness(DOMS). When we weight train we can increase resistance, sets and repetition counts from week to week and our bodies will never get acclimated to the changes.
This is why, from a practicality view, weight lifting is preferable to cardio. The other side of the secret is what happens after we expended energy lifting the weights. Once the muscles have been stretched, torn and broken down the body goes into repair mode. The standard recovery time for muscles is 48 hours, dependent upon a number of factors like what muscle group, how many are in the group and the size of the group, age, genetics, etc. This recovery process requires energy to be completed, energy in the form of calories. Ding Ding Ding! That’s the secret!
So what I am saying is that if you train chest on Monday, you are burning calories possibly until Wednesday just to recover from the workout. Coupling this with proper diet and your results will never wane. You are continuously burning calories to reduce fat at a healthy rate while increasing muscle size, firmness and quality. Because, lets be honest we all want to look good with our shirt off.
The Bottom Line
The end product is a slimmer, healthier you so use every tool you have and stay true to your goals. Remember with cardio your metabolism will catch up with you so utilize weight training as the primary tactic to loose weight and, if you must do cardio keep it to the minimum amount possible.
When approaching your particular fitness goal think in terms of a tool box. What tools will help me finish the job in the most efficient manner. Proper dieting and resistance training are invaluable tools to achieving fat loss and should be considered.
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