Most of the time, when women decide they want to lose weight, they decide they’re going to start a cardio program of some sort. That usually means going to the gym to jump on the elliptical for 30 minutes a day, or hitting the pavement and running a few kilometers.
Traditional, steady-state cardiovascular training for weight loss and physique transformation is an exercise of diminishing returns for a variety of reasons.
The simplest, most concise way to explain why, is that to continue seeing results, you need to continually increase the time you’re putting in to get the same effect.
Who has time for ever more exercise in this day and age? We are all so freaking busy! I love exercising and I struggle to find the time to do everything, so I can’t imagine how this would work for me if I didn’t love it so much, or if I just had to continually increase my time commitment to keep getting results. That would suck.
If that were the case, I might decide it wasn’t worth it, I didn’t have enough time and that it was too hard…
Our bodies are designed to adapt to the stresses we place upon them. It’s how we have survived through the ages and the mechanism under which in modern life we improve our “fitness”. We subject our bodies to a measure of controlled stress, making an activity “challenging”, and your body adapts to meet that stress, thusly making it “fitter” for the activity at hand. Right? That’s essentially what “fitness” and “getting fitter” entails.
And our bodies and metabolic systems adapt frighteningly well to steady state cardiovascular activities. Meaning that within a few weeks, your body will burn fewer calories doing the same cardio workout, because it has adapted and become more efficient at completing the task at hand. This is why the same workout gets easier and easier after a few weeks — it actually is easier, your body is more efficient at it.
So what happens when you get to upwards of 45 minutes of cardio activity daily? Where do you go from there? 1 hour every day? 2 hours? What next?
This is where lifting weights comes in to shake things up!
Lifting weights is a much sounder foundation upon which to base your fitness and weight loss program.
Lifting weights builds metabolically active tissue, which helps you burn more fat and improve metabolism, even at rest.
Lifting weights will help shape a killer bikini bod. Especially if you include movements like squats and lunges and deadlifts of all variations. Cardio alone cannot do this. Cardio alone will make you a smaller version of the shape you already are.
Lifting weights circuit style can give you the double whammy of an anaerobic and aerobic workout – in plain language, you can reap the benefits of lifting weights and cardio in one super efficient work out.
You can always increase the intensity of your lifting program in variety of ways (thereby avoiding plateaus), that don’t increase your time commitment to your program. You can lift heavier weights, change your rep scheme, use super and giant sets (i:e doing exercises back to back), change the exercises you are doing… and that’s just scratching the surface of possibilities.
There is always the humorous adage in the weightlifting community about cardio that goes:
As you can see, for the time poor woman who works out with weightloss and/or other aesthetic goals in mind, lifting weights is the clear winner for reaping virtually limitless results.
Don’t get me wrong, cardiovascular exercise is not the worst thing in the world by any stretch, in fact, cardiovascular exercise is great when used properly and not excessively as a tool for yes, weight loss, better health, or heck just enjoyment! If you love running or you love doing your spin class 2 times a week, keep doing it! Just make sure you continue to have ways in which you can keep the workout challenging and never, ever overdo your cardio training because you think it’s the key to unlock your best physique. It isn’t.
Your best physique = sound diet + good lifting routine + consistency!
And yes, a little cardio, always challenging, never, ever overdone or excessive in any way.
Are you more of a weights or a cardio girl? How much cardio do you do each week?