I have been out jogging two or three times a week and I’m not losing any weight. I read all the time I should do strength training, but I don’t want bigger muscles; I want to be thinner. What should I do?
So many people are confused about the issue of cardio training versus strength training that I’m going to try to clear this confusion up once and for all, and in doing so, squash your big-muscles fear.
Cardio is for your heart. Just as the name suggests, cardiovascular exercise increases your heart rate and need for blood and oxygen. This requires extra fuel and will burn body fat to get it. Cardio also increases your metabolism, your body’s ability to burn calories. This is helpful for weight loss.
Strength training is for your muscles. Strength training increases muscle mass but burns slightly fewer calories than cardio exercise.
Which is better?
So you’d think cardio is the answer for weight loss? Wrong. Muscle is the body’s fat-burning equipment. The more muscle you have, the more fat you’re able to burn.
Many studies have been done comparing the two and, for long-term weight-loss goals, strength training is actually more beneficial.
However, the best thing for your body is to combine both, which is why the American Council on Sports Medicine recommends 11 workouts a week: five cardio, three strength and three flexibility.
The key is to change your workout pattern to two or three workout sessions that combine all three forms of exercise. Say 30 minutes strength, 20 cardio and five minutes stretching. You can even switch from one to the other to make the time pass more quickly; for example, three minutes on the elliptical followed by hand curls with weights.
As far as your fear of getting chunky biceps as a result of strength training, you honestly don’t have to worry. Women only have a fraction of the hormone testosterone that men do, which helps promote muscle tissue growth, so women naturally build less muscle than men, and when they do, it occurs at a much slower pace.
Also, a pound of muscle, while denser than fat, takes up about 18 percent less space than a pound of fat, so as you burn fat and replace it with muscle tissue, you actually look smaller.
I can imagine how disheartening it must be, working out and seeing no results, but honestly, if you switch it up and complete a focused cardio and strength workout two or three times a week (while maintaining a healthy diet) you’ll definitely see results.
Billy Katz and Hudson Ellis are the co-owners of Simply Fit gyms.
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