You run and run and run, but you don’t shed a pound. What gives? It’s one of the most common pain points for people who exercise. All of that effort and so little reward, but why is that?
Simple: Cardio often isn’t the fastest way to lose weight, and it’s certainly not the only way. There is a solution, though, which will allow you to spend less time in the gym and see even better results.
1. Burn More Fat With Strength Training:
Far too many people are focused on how many calories they burn while they’re in the gym, but this is short-sighted.
Stop focusing on how many calories you burn in the gym and instead focus on how your body expends calories outside the gym. You burn calories throughout the day regardless of what you’re doing, but exercise helps increase the rate at which you burn those calories.
With most forms of traditional steady-state cardio, you expend calories while you’re exercising, but once you stop, you quickly go back to your normal metabolic rate. Strength training, however, builds muscle, and more muscle helps you burn more calories.
Strength training is a critical component of any programme than emphasises long-term fat loss!
The more muscle you have, the more fuel you’re constantly burning. A treadmill or elliptical trainer is often seen as the quick fix to shed body fat — and they’re certainly useful if your goal is to improve cardiovascular health or endurance — but strength training is a powerful ally.
2. Resistance Training Won’t Make Women “Manly”:
This myth just won’t die, and unfortunately, it’s horribly misguided. It takes a lot of work both in and out of the gym to get big or bulky. You not only need to be dedicated to your training, but you need proper nutrition if you’re serious about putting on size.
There is a big misconception about what causes bulk. Bulk isn’t muscle; it is muscle covered by fat. So if you feel that you are too bulky, then it is important to fine-tune your diet to lose the excess fat — not give up weight training.
Women have a distinct disadvantage if the goal is to put on size. They have about one-tenth the testosterone of males, and testosterone is a key component in the muscle-building process.
Women can build muscle, though. But in general, instead of big and bulky, they’ll be the type of long and lean muscles many women desire.
3. Weight Training Benefits Your Athleticism:
If your goal is to look, move and feel like an athlete, you need a corresponding strength-training routine. Elite athletes need their body to function as an efficient unit, so focus on big-bang movements that utilise multiple muscle groups — both the prime movers and the smaller stabilisers.
Stop isolating body parts and pumping away mindlessly on the machines. Focus on compound, multi-joint exercises. Learn how to squat, deadlift, chin and overhead press safely and effectively.
The only reason your athleticism will be limited in the gym is if you follow an ineffective programme or one that’s designed for “show” versus “go.”
4. Running Isn’t Always the Best Way to Get Fit:
It’s not that running is bad, but it puts a fair amount of stress on your muscles and joints. The better plan is to take time to develop the muscles of your core and hips first instead of jumping off the couch and running three miles.
For the hip stabilisers, start off with basic single-leg exercises like split-squats, lunges and step-ups. For the core, exercises like front planks, side planks and bird dogs will help get you stronger and more stable.
Some people need activities that are a bit more joint-friendly, as the pounding caused by running on a treadmill or pavement is simply too much. If you like more traditional options, a dual-action exercise bike or rower will not only engage a ton of muscles but take some of the stress off your joints as well.
If you want newer variations, consider kettlebell swings, medicine ball or barbell circuits, Prowler pushes or even battle rope exercises. There are many different ways to get into shape, and while running is great, it’s just one option you have at your disposal.
The Bottom Line:
Strength training can help you lose body fat and is likely a quicker ticket to better fitness than steady-state cardio. It also won’t limit your athleticism, but more likely improve it, and women can derive tremendous benefit from resistance training without getting bulky.
For those of you who like to run, remember it’s only one way to improve your fitness, but definitely not the only way. So be sure to mix in some strength training to prevent injury and improve athleticism.