Question from ChrisH:
“Having a difference of opinion with a fellow blogger..... she thinks doing 3 X 20 minute weight sessions a day will help burn fat just as a cardio workout will, and I have been lead to believe weight work will only tone and build muscle... and a cardio workout is the best way to burn calories and increase your heart rate to facilitate this. Can you put me right on this???”
OK….neither of you are exactly right, you need to do both kinds of training to get a hot bod. Weight training is DA BOMB! (that means it’s good, in case you’re wondering….) Here’s why:
First of all, a session of intense weight training will burn up calories – how many is impossible to say, since it depends on way too many variables. But there is plenty of evidence that you continue to burn calories for quite a while afterwards. However, that’s not the really good bit.
As you obviously know, weight training causes your muscles to grow - as long as you’re eating a reasonable amount of food and not following a stupidly low calorie diet, that is. And it takes more energy (calories) to maintain muscle than it does an equivalent amount of fat.
What this all means is that by building a decent amount of muscle, you will actually increase your metabolic rate – in plain English, you will burn up more calories just existing than someone with pathetic little girlie muscles. So your weight loss should accelerate if you’re doing it right.....and if you don't overeat to compensate. You know, those people who think "well, I did a workout today, so it's OK if I have those 2 donuts after lunch, a packet of Twisties in the afternoon and a large pizza for dinner". Don't laugh - I actually know someone who does this.
Personally, I’d do a little more than 20 minutes per session, but if you’re an absolute beginner, that’s probably a good place to start. 3 really good sessions per week, of say 40-45 minutes should really make your body sit up and take notice. And if you’re spending 8-10 hours per week on cardio, for God’s sake quit it now – it doesn’t help; in fact it’s counter-productive to muscle gain. You do still need to do cardio to improve fitness and burn up more calories, but cut back to a realistic combination of high and low intensity cardio. You need to train smarter, not harder/longer. Check out the Body-for-LIFE training plan for a great place to start.
If you’re worried about bulking up *tries hard to keep a straight face* PLEASE, just relax. It isn’t going to happen. Unless you are a total genetic freak who produces massive amounts of testosterone, which I seriously doubt. OK, or if you're a man. I started weight training 3 times a week when I was a size 18, and I was a bit tentative about it. After all, I wanted to burn up fat first and THEN I’d worry about toning…isn’t that how it works? Lucky for me, a gym instructor set me straight early on, and I lost about 9kg over a 6-month period. Then I discovered the fab combination of eating right, intensive weight training and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and dropped another 7kg in only 12 weeks. Most significantly, I suddenly started getting compliments on my ‘toned’ arms and drastically improved shape.
So..…no waiting to weight train. Put your heart and soul into it and really push yourself. Forget about lifting girlie weights for sets of 15-20 reps or whatever crap you’ve been told. Lift the heaviest weight you can safely manage for 10-12 reps, do some near-death cardio intervals a few times a week, and just move your butt more the rest of the time. If you’re also eating right, you’ll see results. You should be walking out of the gym with jelly legs or arms and a great big grin plastered all over your face...in between grimaces.
If you’re still not convinced, go do some reading. Here’s some homework for you:
You want proof? Here you go. This was me in January 2004 at around 70kg, and then in June 2004 at a reasonably buff 59kg (check out those calf muscles - no cankles here! And I do believe those are actually abs showing through there...for years I actually doubted that I had any! - The tan is fake, by the way) (oh God, another shot of me in my K Mart undies...didn't own a bikini....I never thought when I took those before pics that I'd actually show them to anyone. WHAT WAS I THINKING??!!):
So, the upshot is: if you want to be a buff goddess, get those weights happening, do some cardio, eat well (no starving yourself, but ease up on the choccies and takeaways), drink your water and don't underestimate the importance of rest. Yeah, there's a lot to think about.....