Are you trying to lose some weight?
Do you want to lose that stubborn fat that just won’t go away? Are you running, either outside or on a treadmill, for hours at a time at that same old speed you’ve always done? You should be shedding that fat like it’s your job, right? That’s what all the magazines say, and the websites are telling you, and that one friend who seems to know everything says “if you want to lose weight, you have to do cardio for an hour every day.”
Well, those magazines, websites, and know-it-alls…. they are wrong. Maybe you’ve heard this. But, judging by all the people that I see do endless amounts of cardio and zero weight training, you probably didn’t believe it. In reality, all the running you’re doing could actually be hindering your fat loss goals. It may be causing you to hold on to all that fat. That sucks.
Why does this happen? To answer that we’ve got to dive a little deeper, into how the body works. Going all the way back to the days of the caveman (no, I’m not getting into the paleo diet here) there was actually a benefit to being able to hold onto fat. Why? Because you didn’t know when your next meal was going to arrive. Holding onto fat meant your body could run off the fat stores during the periods when you didn’t have food to eat. That was a good thing. In today’s world, your next meal is probably already planned (It’s not? Well it should be if you’ve got goals!) That means your fat stores don’t serve the same purpose that they used to. Now, they are less life saving and more life threatening…
Your body back in the day was trying to be as efficient as it possibly could. It wanted to adjust so that it could hold on to as much life saving material (fat) as possible. That is what happens when you do the same amount of cardio, at the same time, and at the same speed, every. single. day. Your body adjusts to it. Your body becomes efficient. Your body can now go farther, for a longer time, and use less calories to do so. It’s like having better gas mileage. While in a car that’s a good thing, you save money, sweet! But, in your body you don’t save money, you save fat. Not such a good thing. All the while, not making any muscular change (remember that phrase). In the fitness world of fat loss, this is the worst thing that can happen. If you want to lose fat, you need to make your body INEFFICIENT. When your body is inefficient it will burn more calories while doing less work. It sounds counter intuitive, but that’s how the body works.
So how do you lose fat?
By doing high intensity exercises. For example weight lifting (my personal favorite. If you didn’t know, now you know) or doing interval training (sprints) or circuit training. Why does this work better? These types of exercises cause muscular change (remember?), or help to build muscle. “Wait, I don’t want to build muscle, I just want to lose fat…” Well my friend, I’m sorry to say this to your face, but…. you’re wrong just like your friend was. You do want to build muscle, and here’s why.
When you build muscle your RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate) increases. “What the heck is that?” Your RMR is the amount of calories your body burns while at rest. The higher that number is, the more calories you burn throughout the day just by being alive. The more calories you burn in the day, the more fat you can lose while your sitting at your desk. See the correlation?
Here is a way I heard it described once that really hit home for me. Think about cardio as paying rent at an apartment, and lifting weights (high intensity exercise) as paying the mortgage of your house. When you pay rent you are just trading $$$ for space, right? You don’t actually get to own anything at any point. Cardio is the same way, when you do cardio, yes you burn calories. But, once you stop running, you stop burning calories too.
Now, if you are lifting weights it’s more like paying your mortgage. With the mortgage you will eventually (if all goes well) own that house, it will be all yours and no one else’s. While weight training, yes you burn some calories and no, maybe it isn’t as many as you would on the cardio session. BUT, when you finish that weight training session guess what happens… you keep burning calories!!!! And not just for an hour. Your body is burning calories for sometimes up to 48 hours later. Why, because you have to recover, and rebuild your muscle tissue that was torn. Now you will be rebuilding and growing more muscle. Muscle burns a few more calories per day than fat does, which in turn increases your RMR. That means by building more muscle, you will be burning more calories throughout the day, and if your body is trying to build muscle it won’t use that as an energy source. Do you know what that means???????
That means you’ll be burning those fat stores to get you through that 2 hour meeting that could’ve been an email…and that is freaking awesome! I mean the fat burning, not the pointless meeting…
That is the reason weight training should be involved in everyone’s weekly routine. If you like running, awesome! Then keep running, but make sure you add in that weight training too.
Will all that being said, If you aren’t eating properly then none of this matters anyway. So, here is what you need to do in order to shed that fat. Eat right, lift weights, and sleep. Doesn’t sound too hard right? Right.
Now, step off the treadmill. Venture into that weight section of the gym, and crush that fat!
As always, if you’ve got questions send them my way!