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TOPIC: Weight loss - cardio v resistance training

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March 16, 2012 3:24 AM
When you lose weight you generally lose weight from lean muscle mass as well as fat, and that's the biggest difference when you're comparing to losing body fat only. The numbers reflect a very different value because when you lose lean muscle mass you also lose water weight. When your focused on losing weight, you're only looking the numbers and not what the number represents and so initially it may seem like you've achieved more by losing more weight...but in the long run you're actually doing yourself disservice.

Most people make the mistake of thinking that losing weight is equivalent to losing body fat. And unfortunately people also think doing cardio is the best method to lose weight which is why cardio has become synonymous with burning fat. For this reason, it's what most people resort to when they begin a fitness regimen, and sadly the false belief is further strengthened because almost everyone will see some weight loss using this approach in the beginning. To add fuel to the fire, when you incorporate strength training into your fitness regimen it's not uncommon to see weight gain at first...gasp! Although it's temporary, it's enough for many people (especially females) to abandon the whole idea of ever using strength training as a part of their fitness regimen. This is why whenever you go to any gym at peak hours, the cardio machines are all full! I'm sure everyone on the cardio machines are thinking: Cardio = Weight Loss = Fat Loss. If they only knew what was really happening: Cardio = Weight Loss = Fat Loss + Lean Muscle Loss.

At first glance the above equation doesn't seem like a big deal. So what if you lose some lean muscle mass...at least you're losing weight right? Although that may be (partially) true, especially if you're in the obese category where weight loss is important, there's a strong reason why losing lean muscle mass is not recommended, even if it means you'll lose more weight.

Having lean muscle mass isn't only for looking good, it's also been shown to greatly improve insulin sensitivity. Lack of insulin sensitivity not only causes you to gain weight and increase your body fat, but it also makes you susceptible to serious diseases such as Diabetes type 2, as well as other serious metabolic disorders. Poor diet, lack of exercise, lack of rest and stress combined with all the modern conveniences make for a perfect scenario for getting insulin insensitivity, which is why the rate of diabetes and obesity has exploded recently. This is why regaining your insulin sensitivity is even more important to ensure that your metabolic processes are working optimally so you can prevent serious metabolic disorders, effectively lose body fat and achieve optimal health.

The best way to achieve gains in lean muscle mass is performing compound movements using challenging loads to stimulate your muscles. The load should be heavy enough that you can perform between 6 - 12 reps without compromising form. You also want your body to be under tension for at least 20 seconds to as long as 120 seconds to maximize your muscle activation. (As a side note, lifting heavier challenging weights has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity as well.) Lastly, it's important that you perform the exercises with enough intensity to elicit fat burning hormones so you can build lean muscle and burning fat at the sametime.

Also, keep in mind that getting a lean and fit physique has more to do with losing body fat while maintaining (or gaining) lean muscle mass than losing weight. In fact, when you get to a relatively low fat body fat percentage such as 14 - 17% for men and 21- 24% for women, weight loss becomes somewhat irrelevant. You can lose fat and gain lean muscle at the same rate so your body weight actually doesn't change much at all, while still dramatically improving your physique.

So if you've been misled to believe that losing weight means losing fat, it's time you stopped focusing on the just losing weight. Although losing weight is part of the process, it should never be done while sacrificing your lean muscle mass. Shifting your focus on losing body fat while maintaining (or gaining) lean muscle mass is a more accurate measure of your health, fitness and of course your physique.
March 16, 2012 3:54 AM
im researching this atm but have no idea where to start! great post though
March 16, 2012 3:55 AM
Amen Brother!!!
  192152
March 16, 2012 5:41 AM
Great post!
  4233766
March 16, 2012 5:48 AM
QUOTE:

Also, keep in mind that getting a lean and fit physique has more to do with losing body fat while maintaining (or gaining) lean muscle mass than losing weight. In fact, when you get to a relatively low fat body fat percentage such as 14 - 17% for men and 21- 24% for women, weight loss becomes somewhat irrelevant. You can lose fat and gain lean muscle at the same rate so your body weight actually doesn't change much at all, while still dramatically improving your physique.



I agreed up until here. It is actually quite difficult to gain lean muscle and lose fat at the same time. It is much more effecient to do bulk and cut cycles where during the bulk you eat at a caloric surplus and do everything you mentioned so most of your gain is lean muscle, the for the cut cycle you eat at a small deficit and do what you suggest to lose body fat while retaining lean muscle.

Unless you are new to working out or returning after an extended period of not lifting it is extremely difficult to have lean muscle gains while in a caloric deficit or while losing fat.
Edited by erickirb On March 16, 2012 5:49 AM
March 16, 2012 5:52 AM
So true great post!
March 16, 2012 5:56 AM
Concur
March 16, 2012 5:56 AM
bump
  9822156
March 16, 2012 6:00 AM
Amen. Cardio endurance training lead to me being skinny fat. I'm correcting that over the next 6 months or so. The bad part is that I _believe_ if I'd just done weights and lite cardio over the last year I would have already achieved my goals.
March 16, 2012 6:01 AM


I agreed up until here. It is actually quite difficult to gain lean muscle and lose fat at the same time. It is much more effecient to do bulk and cut cycles where during the bulk you eat at a caloric surplus and do everything you mentioned so most of your gain is lean muscle, the for the cut cycle you eat at a small deficit and do what you suggest to lose body fat while retaining lean muscle.

Unless you are new to working out or returning after an extended period of not lifting it is extremely difficult to have lean muscle gains while in a caloric deficit or while losing fat.


Eric, thanks for pointing this out. I am returning to weight training and weight loss after having my second child at 36. It's been almost 1.5 years since I quit training due to being pregnant. I didn't know how weak I was until this week. I need to lose both body fat AND gain my muscle back and I'm having trouble finding the balance of food/cardio/strength training. I'm confused more than anything because there are SO many people out there with their own ideas. Your statement helped guide me a little more.
  5239980
March 16, 2012 6:02 AM
I've been asking this same question on my wieght loss/ health journey. Lest we not forget that lean muscle also burns more calories at rest than fat does. But, you do need some cardio to keep your heart healthy.
March 16, 2012 6:04 AM
Women, please listen. Please lift. It's fun.
March 16, 2012 6:07 AM
This is exactly what is happening to me. I came in here with about 20-25 lbs I wanted to lose. Been at it 2 1/2 months....have always worked out, but about 2 weeks into mfp I started 30ds ... did 3 weeks, then went back to the gym and started lifting *heavy*. I've been at that for 4 week. In those 7 weeks, I only lost about 5 lbs., but I did lose 9 inches. My jeans are hanging on me and my body feels *much* stronger/leaner. I am totally addicted to heavy lifting now. I can certainly see how it will sculpt my body to a better form than just sticking with cardio/lighter weights. So, I'm one who did lose fat and gain lean muscle at the same time. Love it.
Edited by jjblogs On March 16, 2012 6:23 AM
  6774294
March 16, 2012 6:10 AM
Thank you so much for this post!
  15072069
March 16, 2012 6:21 AM
I do 30 minutes of cardio on days that i'm lifting
and up to 60 minutes when it's a recovery day for my arms

here are a few things BESIDES cardio that i do

-9 different sets up PULL UPs
-3 sets of DIPS
-bicep curls with 25lbs
-i work with 25lbs kettle bells to build up my obliques (penguins)
-lat pull downs on 60lbs
-regualr pull downs with 60lbs
-rows with 60lbs

I have not done much leg liftting. mostly because all the good machines are taken when i am in the gym.
so i use cardio as my leg builders (not the best idea, but its working for me so far)

i love to lift at the gym! especially in front of the guys! they look to intimidated seeing my biceps!
so, you will impress a guy at the gym more with lifting instead of walking, running, and only doing ABS.
The one trainer at my gym LOVES seeing women lifting, squatting, or whatever. he thinks it's awesome!
so, if you're trying to pick up a date at the gym, you better get off those cardio machines!
ha ha ha ha!
LIFT! you wont look like a disgusting woman on steroids. if anything you will look more toned!
  18759302
March 16, 2012 6:26 AM
Very well said!
March 16, 2012 6:34 AM
Great post!
March 16, 2012 6:44 AM
Great post. I wish more women would lift heavy. It transforms your body and women DON'T look masculine if they lift heavy.
March 16, 2012 8:04 AM
This is a great thread!
March 16, 2012 9:24 AM
Experiencing this for myself and loving it! Just starting out so hoping to take advantage of the "beginner's advantage!" happy
  185537
March 20, 2012 5:49 AM
I've started what I class as lifting weights, I've been doing the 30DS with 2 x 2.5kg dumbbells. I do this about 2-3 times a week and I also do 3 x 1 hour intense cardio.

My arms are killing and sometimes get the shakes! so i must be doing something, right?

I've just gained 4lbs in the last 10 days but lost inches.

where do I start with weights - at home? What weight is enough? I used to rsi in my wrists years ago and really don't want to over do it and aggrevate it again.

How much weight and how often is good to make a difference?

(Holiday in 9 weeks and want to be 2 dress sizes down - whether it shows in inches or weight on scale I don't care- but think inches are better as I would love to be toned - probably a very long way off for me).

Thanks. x
  14461767
March 20, 2012 6:15 AM
QUOTE:

I've started what I class as lifting weights, I've been doing the 30DS with 2 x 2.5kg dumbbells. I do this about 2-3 times a week and I also do 3 x 1 hour intense cardio.

My arms are killing and sometimes get the shakes! so i must be doing something, right?

I've just gained 4lbs in the last 10 days but lost inches.

where do I start with weights - at home? What weight is enough? I used to rsi in my wrists years ago and really don't want to over do it and aggrevate it again.

How much weight and how often is good to make a difference?

(Holiday in 9 weeks and want to be 2 dress sizes down - whether it shows in inches or weight on scale I don't care- but think inches are better as I would love to be toned - probably a very long way off for me).

Thanks. x


Christime

It seems to me that you're doing exactly the right thing apart from the long cardio. You would be better off with hight intensity interval training, rather than an hour. Half an hour of this would be so much better for you. Also, try working on the bigger muscle groups when doing your weights. Squats and deadlifts are two of the best workouts you can do for maximizing fat loss.
That said, if its working then just carry on, so long as you enjoy it and you're getting results.

Hope that makes sense.

Rick
March 20, 2012 6:16 AM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:

I've started what I class as lifting weights, I've been doing the 30DS with 2 x 2.5kg dumbbells. I do this about 2-3 times a week and I also do 3 x 1 hour intense cardio.

My arms are killing and sometimes get the shakes! so i must be doing something, right?

I've just gained 4lbs in the last 10 days but lost inches.

where do I start with weights - at home? What weight is enough? I used to rsi in my wrists years ago and really don't want to over do it and aggrevate it again.

How much weight and how often is good to make a difference?

(Holiday in 9 weeks and want to be 2 dress sizes down - whether it shows in inches or weight on scale I don't care- but think inches are better as I would love to be toned - probably a very long way off for me).

Thanks. x


Christime

It seems to me that you're doing exactly the right thing apart from the long cardio. You would be better off with hight intensity interval training, rather than an hour. Half an hour of this would be so much better for you. Also, try working on the bigger muscle groups when doing your weights. Squats and deadlifts are two of the best workouts you can do for maximizing fat loss.
That said, if its working then just carry on, so long as you enjoy it and you're getting results.

Hope that makes sense.

Rick


Sorry for my typo of your name Christine....
March 20, 2012 6:19 AM
Great post. Very informational.
March 20, 2012 6:25 AM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:

Also, keep in mind that getting a lean and fit physique has more to do with losing body fat while maintaining (or gaining) lean muscle mass than losing weight. In fact, when you get to a relatively low fat body fat percentage such as 14 - 17% for men and 21- 24% for women, weight loss becomes somewhat irrelevant. You can lose fat and gain lean muscle at the same rate so your body weight actually doesn't change much at all, while still dramatically improving your physique.



I agreed up until here. It is actually quite difficult to gain lean muscle and lose fat at the same time. It is much more effecient to do bulk and cut cycles where during the bulk you eat at a caloric surplus and do everything you mentioned so most of your gain is lean muscle, the for the cut cycle you eat at a small deficit and do what you suggest to lose body fat while retaining lean muscle.

Unless you are new to working out or returning after an extended period of not lifting it is extremely difficult to have lean muscle gains while in a caloric deficit or while losing fat.


I have never brought into that bulk and cut cycle bollocks, I think its just a reason for people to eat as much as they like, but thats my opinion. I believe you can build muscle and lose fat at the same time. OP great post!
  9954650

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