Be sure to read this entire post (cardio lovers) before you form an opinion…
Strength training alone can help reach your goals of optimum health. Cardio alone however, works against you. This may come as a surprise to some of you, but a lot of information is now out there supporting this truth.
The worst cardio you can do is long duration steady state cardio & what that means is 2 things:
- cardio that lasts beyond 20 minutes
- cardio that is done at an unchanging (& unchallenging) speed
If you must include cardio in your fitness routine do intervals. Intervals are going at your absolute max pace for as long as possible & then going at a moderate pace until your heart rate comes back down. I have personally been experimenting w/ what’s called SURGE training & that is going at your absolute max speed (I’ve been using the treadmill) then completely stopping & resting until your heart rate returns to normal. This sequence is to be repeated 2 more times for a total of 3x. If you are able to run or cycle or whatever cardio you choose for 60 seconds or more you are not going at your absolute max. I usually pick a speed that I can’t go more than 30-45 seconds. This routine should be done w/in 5 or so minutes.
Interval training has shown to be the best way to burn calories long after the activity. The goal is not how many calories you can burn during your routine but rather how many are burned during rest or non-activity. The reason steady state & long duration cardio work against you is because your body stores only so much glycogen for energy use once that storehouse is used up (usually after 20 minutes of cardio) your body will start to use protein for energy & what that means is muscle. Muscle is relatable to metabolism in the sense of: the more muscle you have the higher your metabolism is b/c more calories are burned or used to maintain muscle than to maintain fat. Have you ever noticed people who go to the gym year after year yet their shape never really changes? Or heard people say “I just can’t lose weight, I spend hours on the treadmill or elliptical or cycling, etc. but nothing works.”? That is why nothing is changing or working b/c they are losing what helps body shape to change in the 1st place…MUSCLE! Understand I’m not saying to give up cardio (unless you don’t mind – lol) I’m just saying cardio alone is not the way to reach your fitness goals. Strength training, on the other hand, even done w/o the supplementation of cardio can & will help you reach your goals when done correctly. Just as you cannot not challenge yourself while doing cardio & expect results you also have to go at your max while training & I DO NOT MEAN SPEED! When I say going at your max during strength training I mean lifting a weight that causes you to reach muscle failure w/in 2 minutes. If you can continue w/ reps after 2 minutes you are not lifting heavy enough. Ladies YOU WILL NOT BULK UP LIKE A MAN it is physically impossible unless you take steroids! I personally want people to look at me & be able to tell I hit the weights, but I’ve come to the realization some women don’t even like that look so for you types I say relax unless your diet is very strict you won’t have to worry about any bulkyness. Diet has EVERYTHING to do w/ how your body looks. The less fat you have the more defined you look or the more muscle you will see. The higher level of body fat the opposite takes place.
For more information on this subject I am quoting information from: training.fitness.com
Leigh Peele writes:
When women complain of bulky muscles there are usually three main culprits at play here. Stretching, Diet and Body Fat levels. I will explain each one in detail.
Stretching: If I conducted an actual poll at least 80% of the women I talk to want the body of a dancer. Long, lean and very good “tone”. If I told you what those dancers did to get those bodies and what you would have to do to get them your response to me would be see you later, don’t have the time. Just like their talents are achieved over time, the same goes for their bodies. It also doesn’t hurt that their genetics and height play a nice role. Still this doesn’t mean that a 5’3 35 year old woman can’t have long lean muscle. This doesn’t mean your posture can’t be so perfect that it gives you the illusion of extra height. If you haven’t gathered by now and from this selections title the key lies in stretching. Ever heard this “stair climbers make my calf’s bulky!”…”I have been working out for 3 weeks and my thighs are bigger!” Well I hear it all the time. Mostly it is because these woman ignore stretching. Surrounding your muscle tissues is Fascia. There are different functions and layers but two such functions are flexibility and movement. Doing the proper amount of post workout stretching and incorporating a daily stretching regime will cause less injury, relieve stress and yes elongate your muscles.
Diet: One simple point I have to make. To gain muscle you need a surplus of calories. This means you have to eat more than your body needs for energy in a day. That is what it takes to gain fat and if lifting to gain muscle. Sometimes women start lifting to try and spot reduce problem areas but they don’t do anything about their diet. In some cases they are eating over their calories anyway (which is what most likely caused the fat gain) and think lifting will help them spot reduce those problem areas. Well one you cannot spot reduce, fat is fat and it comes off where it decides it wants to. If you want smaller flatter abs and then start doing a bunch of ab work while being in a surplus then you will just make your abs bigger. Two, if losing fat is your goal you need to be in a caloric deficit and eating good carbs, lean protein and healthy fats. The less processed food you take in, the better your results.
Body Fat Levels: If you don’t want veins, then don’t get to low of body fat. If you want some muscle but don’t want them bulky and undefined then get a lower body fat %. Tailoring a look a lot of times comes with what body fat % you have. This is most true for arms and stomach definition. If you want defined arms (for most people that is one of the last to leave spots next to the abs) you have to get that body fat low. To do that you need to have that diet in check. It needs to be clean and pretty dead on if you aren’t in the genetically gifted category already.
I could babble on and on, but the short of it is this ladies…Don’t be afraid of lifting, but lift smart and eat right. Know why you are doing what you are doing, get a trainer if not sure, but a good one!
I agree w/ what Peele writes & love her ending statement! It’s as if she’s endorsing me! (lol)
I think this is enough for now, but there will be a continuation...