Why Weightlifting Is More Important Than Cardio For Fat Loss

If you want to lose body fat, gain confidence, increase bone density, and look amazing you have to lift weights. It does not matter if you are a man or woman, everyone must strength train.

Now, I know what you are thinking… I am a guy who is an avid lifter and bodybuilder, so naturally I would recommend lifting weights to get in shape. So how do I know it works well for  both men and women? Well, I have been a trainer for 13 years and the large majority of my clientele have been women. I have tried countless methods of training and I always circle back around to weights for women. 

My wife is also a huge proponent of weight lifting and can not stand to do any cardio. We recently had our second child (just over a year ago) and she is now in the best shape of her life. No, she didn’t diet hardcore and or perform long hours of cardio. She just ate a little better and lifted weights often; cardio was very secondary. No, she is not big either, about 135 pounds at 5 feet 8 inches tall. I will touch more on the “bulky” topic later.

As a trainer, I have always kept an open mind. It is important that trainers expand their “toolbox” for training. At times when I was trying  many of the different training methods, such as Yoga, Pilates, and running, I noticed that my body composition would never change. As a trainer, I felt that it was important to test all of these methods of training so I could knowledgeably relate to my clientele. If I didn’t try it, how could I knock it, right?

Now, don’t get me wrong. Yoga, Pilates, running and other forms of cardio all have their own benefits. Body composition changes just aren’t one of them.

I also noticed similar results when my clients would practice these forms of exercise. Those that were not lifting weights more than once per week were not seeing the results that they needed from the other non-weight training activities.

The bottom line is, if you are running, on the bike, doing Yoga and occasionally throwing around the light dumbbells, you will see minimal results in fat loss, bone density, and “muscle tone”.

Why Weight Lifting?

More muscle equals more metabolism. The most sought after reason for lifting weights is to lose fat and build muscle. The impact lifting weights can have on your body composition is profound. The more muscle a person has, the more calories they will burn at rest. Basically, muscles speed up your metabolism, resulting in a leaner composition.

Bone Health!

If you are women in your 20’s and 30’s, you probably are not thinking about osteoporosis yet, but you maybe you should be. Many studies have shown that lifting weights regularly can increase bone density. Other forms of exercises just don’t cut it when you are trying to keep your bones strong and healthy. The only true way to do this is to lift heavy stuff and then put it back down. Be procative now, so you don’t have problems later.

Bigger muscles=Condfidence

Walking into the gym knowing that you are going to crush a workout is such a confidence booster. In the past, gym management and trainers directed women to the pink dumbbells, or to group fitness class to jump up and down on a small step aerobics box. In today’s gym atmosphere, I have found that many women are better at lifting weights than men. They work harder, push themselves to the limits and have better form.

When a woman realizes her outer strength, she can tap into her inner strength. and that begins to radiate. Confidence is a very attractive quality and that gym confidence starts to leak into every other aspect of life. A strong girl in the weight room = a confident girl outside of the gym.

The “Bulky” Myth Debunked

The majority of women simply do not have the level of testosterone necessary to support a bulky physique naturally. Furthermore, any woman that does have a massively muscular physique may be supplementing with with hormones. There are, of course exceptions. I don’t have any data to back this up, but if I had to guess, maybe 0.00001% of the female population are blessed to have the cocktail of hormones that naturally can induce large amounts of muscle mass and fat loss.

If it was so easy to gain muscle, no bodybuilder would complain about how they are not gaining muscle, every college frat guy would be huge, and defensive backs in football would get so huge they would turn into linebackers. Bottom line, even men with descent testosterone levels and above average genetics can not build muscle that easily.

Women often start out worried that they will get too bulky if they lift weights 2-4 days per week. Simply, not true. Eating too much will make you  look bulky, not weight lifting. The reason is because we don’t train women to make them look too muscular. Physiologically women are different than men, and thus, see different results with different training methods. For someone looking to “bulk up” with muscle, the classic training method is endless amounts of sets of isolation exercises and body part splits. For fat-loss and body composition change, the focus should be full-body free weight training (squats, deadlifts, lunges, push-ups, pull-ups, rows and presses), kettlbells swings, Turkish Get-ups, loaded carries and metabolic conditioning finishers. By using a combination of compound and full-body movements you can build lean mass and decrease body fat.

Keep Your Diet in Check!

We know that in order for all of this training to be effective, you have to get your diet in order.  I have found that the best way to do this is reduce nutritional deficiencies, balance your macronutrients for your body type, pay attention to workout nutrition, increase food quality and don’t worry about meal frequency.

Eat high quality animal protein and plenty of cruciferous vegetables along with healthy fats (avocadoes, extra virgin coconut oil, nuts) whenever your body needs it. Don’t eat when you are not hungry, drink a plenty of water and minimal caloric beverages (sodas and juices) and chug a post workout shake or branched chain amino acids before and after your workout.

Also, don’t marry yourself to one method of eating (Paleo, low-carb, vegan, etc.). It will just limit your ability to choose foods and just piss you off. Combine methods, since they all work when used properly.

Weight-Training Program

Now that you have an understanding to why lifting weights is so important, let’s take a look at a 3-day per week program for someone looking to start a solid strength training program. There will be no 3 lb pink dumbbells and endless hours on the Elliptical. This is a true weight-training program that gets the job done.

*Make sure to perform a proper dynamic warm-up that includes foam rolling, dynamic mobility, core work, medicine ball throws and plyometrics. This should be brief, yet effective and only last 10-15 minutes.*

Day 1

Repeat this circuit for 3-5 rounds:

Goblet squats: 8 reps
Push-ups: 8 reps
Kettlebell Swings: 15-20 reps
1-Arm dumbbell row: 8 reps each side

Perform these in a circuit fashion for 3-5 rounds. Rest as minimal as possible.

At the end of your workout, perform a Farmers Walk for 3-5 minutes straight. Put the weights down as minimal as possible. Pick a weight that you can carry for 50 meters

Day 2

Repeat this circuit for 3-5 rounds:robin

Deadlifts: 6-8 reps
Assisted Chin-ups: 6-8 reps
Push Press with Dumbbells: 6-8 reps

Perform these in a circuit fashion for 3-5 rounds. Rest as minimal as possible. If you don’t have access to an assisted chin up machine or bands, you can use a lat-pulldown machine instead.

Burpees: Perform 8 rounds of 30 seconds on, and 30-seconds off. Try and match your previous rounds rep number each round.

Day 3

Repeat this circuit for 3-5 rounds:

Inverted Row (with Smith Machine or TRX Row): 10-12 reps
Walking Lunges: 8 reps each leg
Dumbbell Chest Press: 10-12 reps
Single Leg Deadlift: 8 reps

Perform these in a circuit fashion for 3-5 rounds. Rest as minimal as possible.

Perform your favorite cardio exercise as hard as you can for 10 minutes. You can break it up into intervals if you need to.

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