I get this question from women all the time…
“Which workout should I be doing to lose weight?”
When I ask these women what they are currently doing, it typically involves a lot of cardio.
For some reason, us women (and maybe some men) have it in our heads that the more we sweat during a workout, the better it is for us.
Ninety-nine percent of women I talk to are afraid to lift heavy weights. Why?
- They feel that it’s not a good enough calorie burn during the workout.
- They are afraid they are going to bulk up.
- They are afraid to injure themselves.
- They gain weight when they lift weights.
Have you felt this same way about weight training? I’m here to tell you that all of those points are absolutely ridiculous and that you SHOULD be LIFTING WEIGHTS!!
Reasons To Ditch The Long Cardio Sessions
Please don’t get me wrong – I don’t think all cardio is bad. There are some benefits of cardio, such as cardiovascular health and strength, but I personally feel that there are some types of cardio that women (especially as we age) should avoid.
As aging women, our bodies tend to react to stress much differently than when we were younger. Stress is much harder on our aging bodies. Anything we can do to minimize stress as we age is going to go a long way in keeping us healthy.
This is why I don’t recommend long distance running for women. The longer we run, the more cortisol (our stress hormone) we produce. The more cortisol we produce, the harder it is for our other hormones to function properly and be in balance. This hormone imbalance ultimately leads to weight loss plateaus and weight gain.
If you are a runner, you may notice that you have to run longer and eat less in order to just maintain your current body weight. But honestly, who has time to workout longer? And who wants to continue to starve themselves? This is very hard to maintain and will eventually lead to burnout, stress, and weight gain.
More Muscle Leads To Increased Metabolism
The majority of calories you burn in a day are not through activity, but instead through your resting metabolic rate.
Most of the calories your body burns throughout the day are not as a result of the activity you are doing. Your body burns calories, even while at rest.
For example, I can burn 1,800 – 2,000 calories per day just sitting working at my desk. That is a heck of lot more calories that I would burn during a workout!
Because I have a lot of lean muscle on my body.
Weight training is better at increasing your resting metabolic rate (RMR) by preserving lean body mass, which means you burn more calories in a 24-hour period independent of physical activity.
Strength training allows you to maintain a better muscle-to-fat ratio, which not only helps you process food better, but it also insures you burn more calories outside of your workouts!
Let’s look at this in a practical way…
After a weight training workout, the metabolism can be boosted for up to 36 hours post-workout, meaning rather than burning say 60 calories an hour while sitting and watching TV, you’re burning 70. While you may think, ‘Big deal – 10 extra calories’, when you multiply this by 36 hours, you can see what a huge difference that makes in your daily calorie expenditure over that day and a half.
When you figure out that on a monthly rate, it becomes even clearer how regular participation in a weight lifting session will really increase your calorie burning and thus fat burning capacity.
With cardio training, you might get an extra 40-80 calories burned right after a moderate paced session, but this doesn’t last for 36 hours… and this will also depend upon the exact intensity and duration of the workout.
So many women get frustrated that their husbands or boyfriends can workout and lose weight almost instantly.
Why is this?
It’s because men have more lean muscle mass than women.
Having more muscle as a woman will dramatically make you much more resistant to weight gain as you grow older, making it extremely beneficial.
Muscle Training And Body Composition
Please let me be clear that I’m not saying you can’t lose weight with cardio. You most definitely can.
The problem with cardio is that when you lose weight, you are losing both fat AND muscle tissue, and what you’re left with is a smaller version of yourself.
When you’re losing weight with strength training, you’re typically only losing fat, therefore, you’re able to keep more of the natural curves of your body.
If you’ve ever noticed someone who has lost a considerable amount of weight but still looks somewhat ‘soft’, that’s usually why. They have lost some fat, but at the same rate, their muscles aren’t overly toned, hence they don’t give off the same type of appearance.
I can attest to this. When I first lost my 90 pounds, I actually got quite thin, and this was in part to doing too much cardio. Once I started doing less cardio and more weight training, I was able to gain some weight, yet still keep my waist and hips quite lean (i.e. I can still wear the same jeans, but I’m able to fill them out better now!)
My initial weight loss
After adding in more strength training
So many women I talk to are afraid to gain weight with strength training. And yes…you may gain weight! But guess what? You are gaining more muscle and losing more fat! You are reshaping your body. This is why I tell women to stay off the scale for good!
The scale can’t tell you what your lean muscle tissue is. It can’t tell you that you’re gaining muscle and losing fat. It can’t tell you that your bones are getting stronger. It’s a piece of shit and should be thrown in the garbage!!
What About Your Eating?
It’s proven that strength training:
- Doesn’t put as much stress on our bodies in terms of raising our cortisol levels.
- Raises our resting metabolic weight so that we can burn more calories while at rest.
- Makes us more resistant to weight gain as we age.
- Burns more fat.
- Won’t bulk up women because we don’t have enough testosterone.
Even after listing all these benefits of strength training, it would be silly to end this article and not say anything about nutrition.
We can do all the strength training in the world, but without a proper eating plan that’s right for you, you may not see the fat loss that you want.
I’m not going to condone a specific way of eating here. You can read about the way that I eat and how it’s changed my life, but ultimately, it comes down to eating whole foods and getting rid of the processed junk (including those protein bars that promise to fill you up and keep you lean!) It’s about eating the foods that make YOU feel good. Foods that don’t make you tired, bloated, or craving more food.
Once you get your eating in check, that’s when you really start to notice the true benefits of strength training and fat loss.
If you would like to work together on introducing strength training into your routine and learning more about my way of eating and how to incorporate it into your life, consider joining one of my upcoming Drop a Dress Size groups! I would be happy to help you maximize your fat loss and give you the tools to see success!