Many people, even regular gym-goers, avoid strength training because they fear that it will make them too bulky. Some chose to only do cardio, sometimes for hours on end hoping it’s the best way to lose weight and fat as well as stay healthy. But is cardio really effective in achieving these goals?
In one word – NO. The key to losing body fat and keeping it off is strength training because your metabolism is driven by lean muscle tissue. The ultimate goal here is to burn calories not only during your workout but rather 24/7. Too good to be true? Actually strength training will provide these results. But some may worry it will turn them into the Hulk. For the women that are afraid to get “too bulky” from strength training that is simply a myth. If it was so easy to be huge and muscly, everyone could be a bodybuilder and steroids would not be so popular. So don’t worry about getting bulky. Lifting weights will tone you, improve your posture and physique and make your cardio and every day activity more efficient at burning calories.
When you lift weights you tear muscle fibers which causes your body to use more energy (calories) to repair them. One expert even says that weight training can turn your body into a fat burning machine. Moreover lifting has additional health benefits such as preventing osteoporosis. Your bones as well as your muscles adapt to the stress of weightlifting by becoming bigger and stronger. Muscles surrounding and supporting your spine also become stronger and relieve back ache caused by sedentary lifestyle.
Too much cardio on the other hand can spike your hormones especially cortisol. This stress hormone is ok in small doses, but when you have too much, it can be very detrimental to your health.
When you do too much cardio, your body produces high levels of cortisol which instructs your brain to store fat (especially around your abdomen) and inhibits your body’s ability to process sugar. If sugar isn’t processed properly, you gain weight. Of course moderate amounts of cardio and interval training are healthy and recommended but more does not mean better.
Try out the best combination – weight training combined with cardio a few times a week. It doesn’t mean you have to lift heavy weights – try bodyweight exercises such as pushups, planks etc. This will strengthen your body and focus as well as improve your looks.