Cardio Versus Strength Training: Let’s Settle this!
Go to “Any Gym USA” and you’ll see the same scene over and over: TONS of cardio equipment with TONS of people huffing and puffing to nowhere on treadmills, stationary bikes, elliptical trainers, etc. Why are they all doing this? Most of them will tell you it’s because they are trying to lose weight…or maintain their weight. But, I bet most cardio-goers would be surprised to know the answer to the pop quiz below.
Pop Quiz on Calorie Burning
Question: Of the three ways your body burns calories, which one do you think accounts for the greatest percentage of calories you burn during the course of a day?
A) The calories you burn by exercising and moving
B) The calories you burn by digesting breakfast, lunch and dinner
C) The calories you burn by supporting basic bodily functions such as pumping blood, thinking and keeping warm
Answer: Most people answer “A” but “C” is actually the correct answer.
If You Increase Your Resting Metabolism Weight Loss
& Weight Maintenance Will be A LOT Easier
The truth is about 70% of the calories you burn each day are burned solely to support basic bodily functions. In other words, more than two-thirds of your energy (calorie) intake is used solely to exist. This is called your “basal” metabolism.
Exercise and movement only account for about 15% of the calories you burn each day while digesting your food accounts for another 15%.
Based on these percentages, it is clear the smartest, most efficient way to lose weight is to increase your basal (or resting) metabolism. This is because a small change in 70 percent is going to be a much bigger deal than a small change in 15 percent. The only way to increase your resting metabolism is to build stronger muscles. And the only way to build stronger muscles is with resistance exercises.
Design Your Workout to Get the Results You Want
Since time is precious and most of us don’t have hours and hours to spend everyday working out, it’s important that the time you spend exercising is going to help you most efficiently accomplish your goals. For those of you who don’t love exercising the encouraging news is you don’t need to spend an enormous amount of time exercising to get fit and see results.
The surprising truth is about 90% of the health benefits that can be obtained from exercise can be achieved with approximately 2 hours a week of effort. That boils down to about 17 minutes 7 days a week or 30 minutes 4 days a week.
Your exercise program can be designed to increase the amount you move and therefore improve upon the 15% number mentioned above, but if weight loss is a primary goal, your exercise program should be designed to increase the number of calories your body burns at rest AFTER your workout is done. If you only have a limited amount of time to exercise I suggest you put strength training before cardio. This is often what I do and it’s what my husband has had to do for years now because his job as a surgeon is pretty all-consuming. This has worked for us and it’s worked for the hundreds of people we’ve put through our health and body makeover programs in the past; read testimonials HERE.
Ideally, you’d have enough time to do both strength and cardio but since most of us don’t live in an “ideal world” you want to make sure you put your time and effort into the workout that will deliver the best results. If you consider a University of Kansas study that was conducted in 2002 showing after 18 months women who walked thirty minutes a day, three times a week only lost 2.1 percent of their original weight you start to realize that’s A LOT of walking for not a whole lot of benefit! To put things in perspective, a 160 pound woman would have only lost about 3 pounds in 18 months with this walking regimen. The “strength” training workout will provide much more benefit.
Workout Programs That Get Results & That Fit Into Your Life
LEVEL 1: 30-minutes / 3 days a week: I think everybody can commit to a 30-minute workout 3 days a week. If you’ve only got this amount of time to exercise my suggestion is that you either do yoga (which is surprisingly an amazing full-body workout that will absolutely build stronger muscles and increase your resting metabolism), pilates (also very challenging!) or some form of resistance circuit training workout (which is mostly what Andy and I do and have done for over ten years.) If you do these workouts intensely and don’t stop to rest your heart rate will increase and you will absolutely reap “heart-health” benefits—with zero cardio. If you’ve no idea where to start try my Full Fitness Fusion circuit training workout three times a week.
LEVEL 2: 1 hour / 3 days a week: If you’ve got the time and inclination to do more than LEVEL 1 my suggestion is that you do the yoga, pilates or resistance circuit training for 60 minutes three days a week.
LEVEL 3: 1 hour/ 5 days a week: If you have tons of time and love to exercise and want to go beyond LEVEL 2 (and not many people do!) my suggestion is that you do the yoga or resistance circuit training workout for 1 hour 3 days a week and then do about 40 minutes of cardio, 10 minutes of core training and 10 minutes of yoga stretching the other 2 days.
And, Don’t Forget About the Importance of “Clean Cuisine”!
It is way too broad of a subject to dive into here, but food matters a lot when it comes to weight loss. The best “diet” for losing weight…and gaining health…is primarily a plant-based, “Clean Cuisine” style diet comprised of unrefined, nutrient-dense “whole foods”.