This is a guest post by Jentry Nielsen. She is a fitness nut that writes about health and nutrition on her blog.
Ever go to the gym and feel lost? You see the cardio machines then take a look at the weight lifting machines, and then think…where should I go? What should I do? What is going to give me the results I’m looking for?
These are all questions that can be answered differently for every individual. Instead first ask yourself what your main goal is? Are you trying to shed pounds for fat loss, or are you trying to build up those biceps? Many would answer that to burn calories, you do cardio; and to build muscles you do weight training. Makes sense, yes, but that’s not entirely true.
To lose weight and decrease your body fat percentage, you might think just cardio exercises is going to give you results. Yes, cardio is a great exercise to burn fat and improve your ability to utilize fats and sugars for energy, along with strengthening your heart and lungs. But you need to mix in weight training to help you get the best, fastest results and keep your muscle mass high. That’s how you get a great looking figure.
One reason that weight training workouts beat cardio is because they provide you with the ‘after burn’ effect. According to an article on Livestrong, a study published in 1997 in “The Journals of Gerontology” found that an intense strength training workout will raise your metabolism for up to 48 hours after your workout. Whereas with most forms of cardio, once you stop your metabolism quickly goes back to its normal state. And the more calories you burn, the more fat you lose.
The study also states that it requires more calories to maintain lean muscle tissue than it does fatty tissue. This means that building more muscle with resistance training will increase your metabolism and help you burn more calories even when doing nothing but sitting and reading an article online.
Now don’t think this means you should stick only to weight training workouts. For optimum weight loss results you should do a mix of both cardio (ideally using interval training principles) and strength training sessions.
Personally, I think elliptical trainers are best when it comes to cardio workouts. They provide you with a full range of body motion. The motion of the arm handles gives you a great upper body workout, as well as using your leg muscles.
You should shoot for a good mixture of the two within your weekly workouts. You can alternated resistance training and cardio days. Cardio is best on days when you need to give your muscles a break, which they always need after an intense weight training workout.
If you like to do cardio and weights on the same day, that’s fine too. Just make sure to do your cardio after the weight regimen. If you do an intense cardio workout before you will deplete most of your available blood sugar and muscle glycogen stores, which you need for the explosive energy that resistance training requires.
Results from a Fitness Pal forum showed that many individuals had very different results when it came to mixing weight training and cardio. Play around with it. Try one way for a couple weeks and if you are not seeing any results try another way. See what works best for you. Every body is different and will respond differently to different training methods.