“If I want to lose weight, I need to do lots of cardio.”
“Lifting weights will make me bulky. ”
UGH. No. Just no.
I totally get it if you have said or believe these statements. I used to believe them, too. There is A TON of false info out there teaching us that cardio is the end all be all of fat loss, and that strength training is only for bodybuilders. My hope with this post is to convince you guys out of this misguided mentality.
It took me a long time to understand these misconceptions, but when I finally started to #SweatWithStrength I realized what I had been missing. I dropped my hour-long treadmill routine and replaced it with metabolic conditioning (strength training cardio), and guess what happened?
I didn’t gain fat.
I didn’t get “big” or “bulky”.
What I DID get was muscle definition in my arms and shoulders that I had never seen, and believe it or not I also started losing fat.
(Click here if you want to try out strength training in the comfort of your own home with some easy-to-learn dumbbell moves.)
Don’t get me wrong, I still love cardio as a stress-reliever, but we can’t JUST do cardio. Strength training is so important to include in our workout routines, whether or not we’re looking to lose fat.
If you disagree, give me 5 chances to try and convince you…
1. If you want a lean physique, you need muscle.
There is a difference between being skinny and being lean. It really upsets me to think about how many women want so badly to be skinny that they will do anything to lose weight (no matter how harmful it may be). So many of us have been through phases where we obsess over the number on the scale, and unfortunately many women get stuck and that phase becomes a mindset.
Here’s the thing: You might as well get rid of the scale because it doesn’t tell what you need to know. I’ll give you an example…
I’m 5’5″ and I weigh about 130lbs. I have weighed the same amount for a long time, but the difference is that a lot of those pounds are now made of muscle instead of fat. When I was a runner I was “skinny fat” and had a soft look to my body. I had very little muscle and I always felt bloated. Now, I weigh the same amount but I have a lot more lean body mass and my body shape is totally different (in a good way, IMO).
If you want to be lean but keep your shape/curves, you’re going to have to lift weights.
Also worth mentioning…Gaining muscle does not equate to getting “bulky”, especially for women. Most women don’t naturally produce the hormones necessary to truly “bulk-up”, so it’s not going to happen unless you’re actively taking supplements of some sort (yuck!). (There are some exceptions to this because we all respond to training in different ways based on our DNA, but for most women it’s a non-issue.)
2. Building strength is good for our muscles and bones.
Strength training builds and preserves muscle, but it also increases bone density and prevents bone loss. As we age, these benefits will help us ward off things like osteoporosis.
My mother took some convincing on this idea. She struggles with early onset osteoperosis and when I made this point to her, she had a hard time understanding it.
She would ask, “How can I lift weights without putting stress on my bones?”
But that’s exactly the point! She WOULD be putting stress on her bones, which is a good thing if it’s done right.
Wolff’s law says that the bones in a healthy person will adapt under stress. This means that if you start lifting heavy weights and “stressing” your bones, those bones will have to remodel themselves by increasing bone density to resist the load. So if you want to make your bones stronger, you have to work them!
3. More muscle can lead to increased fat loss.
A lot of weight loss programs and diets want us to get on the treadmill or the elliptical for a long-duration cardio workout. What these programs don’t tell us is that a lot of the calories burned in these cardio workouts are from muscle, not fat. In addition to burning off your body shape, you’re also burning off the key to a higher metabolism.
If you’re questioning whether you’ll still burn calories with strength training, remember that a pound of muscle burns about 5-6 calories per day, while a pound of fat burns only 2. If you want to burn more calories over the day, build more muscle. You can start your #CardioRehab with some easy-to-learn dumbbell strength training.
4. Strength training reduces the risk of injury.
A few years ago I ended up tearing cartilage in my hip because all I did was run. The doctor’s called the injury a product of “repetitive microtrauma”. I won’t bore you with the details (you can read them here if you want), but the point is that I could have prevented this permanent injury if I had just dropped some of the cardio that I was doing and added strength training to my workouts.
If we have muscle weaknesses or imbalances in our bodies, we are much more prone to injury. If you’ve ever been injured and had to rehab that injury via physical therapy, you probably understand this idea pretty well. The whole purpose of the physical therapy is to strengthen our muscles, bones and connective tissues in order to prevent another injury.
5. Strength training makes us stronger. Duh.
The physical strength gain from lifting weights is obvious. Weight lifting make us stronger even if we don’t gain large, visible muscles. Once you start strength training, you will notice improvements in the ease of simple daily activities. Carrying groceries, lifting heavy boxes, taking care of pets, or even just working in the yard will all come easier as we get stronger.
Strength training also gives us mental strength. The endorphins released during strength training help relieve stress and stimulate happiness. This happens with many forms of exercise. But in addition to that, strength training makes us feel powerful, gives us confidence, and instills a sense of independence and freedom. These feelings are addicting and will totally suck you into strength training.
There are so many more benefits, but I’ll stop here for now. I truly hope I convinced you to give strength training a try.
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