Depending on who you talk to there are definitely two different schools of thought on weight loss and training. Some say that cardio is the best way and others say that resistance training is better. Some even go as far as saying that cardio training is a waste of time. As with anything, you can find evidence and scientific studies that prove that both are correct.
Well here’s my take on this subject:
Both styles of training have worked great in the past to get people shredded and achieve their weight loss goals. Look back to the 70′s and 80′s to all of the bodybuilders that used to walk on the treadmill for 1-2 hours a day. There is no denying that they got ripped. Look to around 1995 to now and you can see many examples of people that are incredibly lean and do little to no cardio, only resistance circuit training.
To add more to the confusion between what works the best, there are many different types of resistance training and there are many different types of cardio. When it comes to cardio, there is the thought that HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is way better than steady state cardio.
Warm up at a slow pace of around 3-4 mph for around 3-5 minutes, then alternate at a faster paced around 6.0 mph for 30 seconds back to 4.0 mph for a minute. You would keep alternating and add .5 mph each time you went faster. (4.0 for a minute, 6.0 for 30 secs, 4.0 for a minute, 6.5 for 30 secs, 4.0 for a minute, 7.0 for 30 seconds, etc. You would do this for around 15-20 minutes with the last 3-5 minutes as a slower cool down at 3-4 mph.) There are many variations of this, but this will give you a general idea of HIIT cardio.
This type of cardio is a slower pace, but done for a much longer period of time. Some will walk on the treadmill at around 4.0 mph for an hour or even two hours. The problem that most have with this type of training is the time that it takes to get the results. Few people have the time or the desire to stay on a treadmill for an hour or more these days! This is one of the reasons that HIIT became so popular, because it works great and it only takes around 20 minutes.
So what is the best way to train for weight loss, resistance or cardio? And if cardio, then what type? In reality any form of exercise is going to work to a point because it is helping you to burn calories. The way to lose weight is simple, eat less and exercise more so you can burn more calories than you are taking in. Any exercise will help to burn calories. The longer that you train though, your body will start to adjust and what used to work won’t anymore. You will have to increase the intensity, change the workout and throw your body a curveball.
If you are a beginner to working out, it won’t take as much thought or work to start losing weight. The longer that you train, the more you have to worry about what is working and what isn’t. From the start, you should keep a journal or record of what you are doing. It will help you to plan your own workouts and design your own style. It is a good idea in the beginning to follow someone’s advice or workout, but you should also try different things and see what works for you.
I actually do all of the above types of training at different times during the year. I am currently doing full body circuits for my resistance training, sometimes with weights and some times with just bodyweight exercises. I am following my resistance training with around twenty minutes of HIIT on the treadmill. I lifted heavy as a powerlifter and wanna- be bodybuilder for over twenty five years. This style that I am doing now is like a breath of fresh air and it is giving my joints a much needed break. Squatting 500 lbs and deadlifting over 600 lbs is not easy on the joints! I am actually getting leaner than I have been for awhile and at age 41, have better abs than most 20 year olds. The leaner that I get, the bigger that I look.
I will continue this type of training for awhile and then change it up a little to keep my body guessing and to keep from overtraining. In the end, there is no right way and no wrong way, all styles of training should have there place in your arsenal. The key is to find what works for you and to keep your diet in check, because if you are overeating, it won’t matter how you train. Keeping your diet in check is not as hard as it seems, but that is the topic of a future post. Stay tuned.