1/ I am always confused by cardio vs weights. I have 50lbs to lose. Last year I lifted heavy, 3x a week and it was amazing. My body changes, my mobility changed but I was still fat (I carry most of my excess in my belly). So my question is, do I cardio the fat off first then build muscle?
Before I address the crux of your question: cardio versus weights, I need to address the bigger problem here: your attempt to exercise the fat off, which just won’t work. Because, a) It’s very difficult to out train your diet and, b) it’s insanely inefficient.
So, firstly: Stop exercising for fat loss. Exercise to build and retain muscle, and let your diet handle the fat burning. This means, above all else, you need to be eating in a calorie deficit – read this to learn how.
Ok. Now that’s out of the way, let’s answer the question that has bewildered dieters since time immemorial.
Cardio or weights for fat loss?
No, but really.
The whole cardio versus weights is a silly argument because they’re both important and can play a role. Let’s take a look at these.
Strength training and fat loss
- Retain and build muscle and strength while in a calorie deficit. So you look more Batman Bale, and not Machinist Bale.
- Strength training preserves your metabolic rate when dieting.
- Improved nutrient partitioning – the body is better able to handle the food you eat; directing food toward muscle stores instead of fat stores.
- You can’t “spot reduce fat” – selectively lose fat from a certain place on your body. BUT. You CAN “spot increase muscle” – selectively increase muscle on certain parts of your body. This, in turn, will help you “tighten up”.
- Boosts your metabolism. Yes, ok, I know. I went all ‘clickbait’ on your ass, but there is some truth to this. Lifting weights can help increase your resting metabolic rate. While the increase isn’t as big as some people will claim, it still adds up.
- You’re less likely to die. The stronger you are – increased muscle and connective tissue strength and bone mineral density – the more resilient you become to injuries. Sure, this isn’t directly linked to fat loss, but, I mean, do you want to die? Exactly.
- More enjoyable. I understand this is perhaps because of my inherent bias, but strength training tends to be more enjoyable, and as you master complex movements and watch your lift numbers go up, this can act as a powerful motivator.
- Low barrier to entry for those who are extremely unfit.
Cardio and fat loss
- A wide choice of activities to choose from. When people think of cardio, there’s a propensity to think ‘running’, but cardio is an umbrella term for a wide range of activities: swimming, walking, running, hiking, even playing a sport.
- Easier to integrate into your life. Unlike strength training where generally you need a gym membership, you can do cardio with minimal equipment and make it a part of your life, for example, cycling or walking to and from work.
Just because they both have a place, doesn’t mean they’re of equal importance.While cardio has it’s own benefits, if you’re wanting to lose fat and change the look of your physique, you need to lift weights. Note: I said you need to, not, “If you want to”.
The muscle definition is going to come through progressive resistance training. So make that the focus of your training.
Putting this all together.
Firstly: Stop trying to exercise for fat loss. Establish a calorie deficit and use your diet as the primary ‘fat burner’.
Second: Lift weights.
Thirdly: Be more active. Exercising for 3-5 hours out of the 168 hours in a full week isn’t much. And it’s those remaining ~165 hours that will play a far bigger role in not only losing fat but maintaining it after the diet ends. Go for walks, play a sport if you’re so inclined – whatever. Just aim to be more active outside of your intentional gym time.
Lastly: Calm the fuck down and be patient. The more you try to force fat loss, the more your body will resist. All you can do is follow the steps above, make adjustments when needed, and be patient.
WOAH. BIG HEADING.
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