In my last post, I said that everyone should find a type of exercise that they find enjoyable in order to stick to it and reduce the chance of skipping a workout. Regardless, I still believe everyone should give strength training a shot.
If you only have time to do one type of exercise, I believe it should be resistance training. Many people are confused because of what is promoted in mainstream media, and they prioritise cardio over weights. That is a big mistake.
I have been working with a client for 20 weeks now. When she first came to me, she was doing high intensity interval training AND steady state cardio every single day, with very minimal weight training. She was convinced that if she stopped doing cardio, she would get fat. I cut back her cardio to just two short sessions per week, and I recently had a proud moment when she told me she didn’t want to do any cardio at all anymore! She could see that her body truly didn’t need it, and she was getting better results from weight lifting alone.
That is just one example. Here are my top five reasons why I think strength training is better than cardio:
1. Weights change your body composition for the better
One of the first things I tell my clients is that your diet is what helps you lose weight, and resistance training is what changes your body composition. Doing cardio does help with fat loss, but it only breaks down your existing tissue – leaving you with a soft, skinny fat look. To get that coveted ‘toned’ look, you need to lift heavy weights. Doing a million repetitions with pink dumbbells is essentially another form of cardio, and it’s not going to change your body shape.
Once your diet is under control, you must lift weights to build lean muscle tissue. Depending on your starting point, cardio is often unnecessary and can in fact make it more difficult to lose the last dreaded 5-10 pounds. When you are already doing an hour of cardio a day and eating like a bird, the only way to continue to lose fat is by eating even less and increasing cardio. Sounds like a nightmare.
2. Weight training burns more calories than cardio
Many people believe that doing cardio burns more calories than weight training. If you go by the exaggerated figure on your treadmill screen which says you burnt 500 calories during a moderately paced 20 minute jog, then sure. Depending on the duration and intensity of your workouts, it’s most often true that cardio burns more calories than a weight training session.
The key here is that it is only true for the duration of your workout. When you watch Jersey Shore on the elliptical for an hour, you are only burning calories while you are on the machine. The second you step off, the calorie burn stops (I’m talking about steady state cardio). With weight training, although you may not feel like you are working as hard because you might not sweat as much, you will continue to burn calories for up to 48 hours after your workout. Not to mention the fact that for every pound of muscle you build, you burn an additional 50 calories at rest – so you are burning more even when you are not doing anything!
3. Cardio gives you an unjustified reason to pig out
How many people have told themselves that because they ran for an hour they ‘deserve’ to have that piece of cake or bowl of ice cream? I used to do it all the time. Magazines fuel this by frequently featuring spreads telling you how many minutes of exercise you need to do to burn off certain treats. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as that. You can’t reverse the damage of a chocolate bar by hopping on the stairmaster for 30 minutes, and that is a completely warped way of thinking in itself.
Most people do not seem to come up with the same silly justifications for weight training. In my experience, cardio also increases your appetite far more than weight training does – despite the latter burning more calories overall. In the book the Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss, Tim actually tells people not to do any cardio at all for this reason.
4. Weight training gives you confidence
I recently wrote a whole post about how lifting weights changed my life for the better. Lifting gives you a strength that in turn gives you confidence. Knowing that I am physically stronger than the majority of women and even some men carries over into all aspects of my life and makes me feel unstoppable.
I can vaguely remember a handful of runs I went on over the years, but I have vivid recollections of the first time I step foot in the weights area of the gym, the first time I really felt in love with lifting, the first time I squatted and deadlifted my body weight, the first time I benched 50kg, and the first time I did an unassisted chin up. I could go on and on, and I’m sure you could too.
5. Weight training will give you a fine booty!
As I was locking up my bike outside today, a guy commented that all my bike riding is paying off because I have a “fine booty”. Little does he know that I’ve only been riding for two weeks and this booty was built by squats!
It would be remiss of me to talk about booties without featuring a picture of Amanda Latona – now that is a butt!
Do you think weight training is more effective than cardio?