- If you want to lose fat and change the look of your physique, you need to lift weights. The muscle definition is going to come through progressive resistance training. So make that a focus of your training (females, this includes you as well!)
That ‘lean’, ‘toned’, ‘ripped’ look is predicated on how much muscle you have built and retained – and strength training will help you do that.
- You can’t ‘spot reduce fat’ – meaning, you can’t selectively lose fat from certain places on your body. But, you can “spot increase muscle” – meaning, you can selectively increase muscle on certain parts of your body. This, in turn, will help you “tighten up”. Unfortunately, though, this doesn’t work as well around your core as those muscles are more internal. However, when you’re lean enough (abs already showing), direct core training does help get your abs popping harder.
- The stronger you are – increased muscle & connective tissue strength and bone mineral density – the more resilient you become to injuries. Although this isn’t a direct link to fat loss, it’s worth mentioning - injuries will stall training, which will affect your body composition, motivation & momentum.
- If you’re really unfit or have a lot of fat to lose, cardio – like running – can be difficult and put a lot of stress on your knees. And for most people, it won’t be sustainable.
- I understand that this is perhaps because of my inherent bias, but strength training tends to be more enjoyable, as you master complex movements and watch your lift numbers go up, this can act as a powerful motivator.
- For general health, cardio is great. Cardio strengthens your cardiovascular system – which is your heart, lungs, blood, and the huge network of blood vessels that supply fuel, oxygen, and nutrients to every tissue in your body. Getting this system strong and efficient will give you more energy on a daily basis and make all activity you do feel easier.
- Cardio helps prevent high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, lower ‘bad’ cholesterol, reduces glucose levels in the bloodstream & improves insulin sensitivity – these are all markers for good general health.
- Improves mental/physical health, wellbeing & even memory/cognition – the brain is an organ like the rest, giving those tissue the exercise stimulus for optimal health (in this case, cardio) has been shown to improve mood even 24 hours later, reduce the physical and mental side effects of stress, improve disorders such as depression and anxiety, improve sleep, improves immunity, and even boost your creativity.
Strength vs. Cardio summarised:
Strength training takes precedence, and the programming/exercises of strength training are also very important to ensure safety & sustainable results – lucky, you have me to worry about all this for you. However, everyone should also do some form of cardio; swimming, running, walking, hiking, playing a sport – whatever. The point I’m trying to make is that most people resort to ‘cardio’ when trying to lose fat but it’s the least of importance when changing body composition is the goal.
My recommendation for cardio is simply just 20-minute walks daily. You will get all the health benefits listed above and you can even split the 20 minutes up by doing 10 minutes before your weights training workout then 10 minutes post workout. If you want to take that a step further, go for 10k steps per day and monitor this on your smartphone or Fitbit.
Written by: Aidan