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I coach and educate INCREDIBLE, badass women around the globe who are ready to build a body they LOVE and feel confident inside & out. We focus on nutrition education & strength-based exercises to create the healthy and happy life you’re looking for!
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You may have heard that the benefits from weightlifting are endless, yet when you think of losing weight or fat, your mind may still immediately think of cardio as the first & best thing you should be doing to see the scale drop – think: Running on the treadmill, 30-minute sessions on the stair master, or regular cycling classes. Well, would you be incorrect in your thinking?
Well let’s go back to the basic principle of weight loss: You must burn more calories than you are eating in a day to lose weight which can also be read as: You must eat fewer calories than you burn or expend in a day to lose weight.
If you were to run for 30 minutes on the treadmill at about 6 miles per hour, you would burn about 300-350 calories (calorie burn will vary person-to-person based on your weight, height, etc. – in general, the bigger you are, the more calories you will burn in a session).
Compare your 30-minute treadmill session to a 30-minute weight lifting session, you would burn only an estimated 100-250 calories during your weight lifting workout, depending on the level of intensity of the session itself and your individual statistics as previously discussed.
To recap, that’s 300-350 calories for a 30-minute cardio session in comparison to 100-250 calories for a 30-minute weight lifting session.
Generally speaking, you will burn more calories in a cardio session in comparison to a weight lifting session of the same duration of time.
Does that mean you should prioritize cardio over weightlifting if, let’s say, you’re in a time crunch and only have 30 minutes to spare in your day?
Not necessarily – ESPECIALLY if your goal is to look defined and ‘toned’ (a very common word that women typically use to describe a look that combines a lower body fat percentage with moderate muscle tone).
Why? Because that defined looked comes from:
Where performing cardio ALONE fails us is that it does not provide our body with the stimulus it needs to grow or even MAINTAIN the muscle we have. Cardiovascular exercise can actually become catabolic. This means during long bouts of cardio, your body can run through your glycogen (carbohydrate) and fat stores, and eventually break down your precious muscle tissue for additional energy that it needs so that your body can continue performing your cardio session.
Although weight training may not burn the same amount of calories as a cardio session of the same length, in the long run, the benefits of strength training are endless – but JUST to name a few.
Cardiovascular exercise has a myriad of benefits beyond physical results that I believe it does and should have a place in your workout regimen, regardless of whether you care about building muscle or not, such as:
However, weight training should be your priority first and foremost if your goal is to maintain a lean, fit physique long-term while adding in a few cardio sessions per week to maintain your cardiovascular health.
My recommendations vary from client to client based on their personal health & fitness history, but typically I will prescribe:
3-5 weight training sessions per week, between 40-75 minutes per session
2-4 low to moderate-intensity cardio sessions per week, between 10-30 minutes per session
I recommend that you take time to think about the specifics of what your health & fitness goals are and why these goals are important to you. The more clear you are on your goals, the better you’ll be able to find a program that suits your exact needs.
I’ll give you an example from my own journey: At the beginning of 2020 I had put on an excess of 25 lbs and I felt uncomfortable/heavy in my body. Did I want to lose weight/fat quickly? Absolutely! But I also knew that when I lost the weight, I wanted to maintain the muscle I had underneath. This meant I could not simply start running every day and achieve my desired physique goals as I would run off all of my hard-earned muscle! Instead, I prioritized weight training 5x/week with a lower-body/push/pull split with minimal cardio (10 minute sessions 2x/week). As I continued to drop weight throughout 2020, I slowly increased my cardio duration/frequency up to 25-minute sessions 4x/week – but my main priority was always weight training, no matter what! By March of 2021, I reached my aesthetic goal where I maintained an amount of muscle mass I was incredibly happy with while simultaneously shedding the desired amount of body fat. It took an incredible amount of time & patience, but I knew that had I gone the quick fix route of focusing mainly on high amounts of cardio, I would’ve lost weight more quickly but I wouldn’t have been happy with the physique I ended up with because of the amount of muscle mass I would’ve lost in the process.
Note that I am specifically addressing aesthetic/physique goals in today’s blog because although most of my clients generally want to feel better and healthier day today, they still have a certain picture of how they want to look in their mind and I want to be sure that the methods we employ together are going to address all aspects of their long-term health & fitness goals!