I bet, if you’re a regular gym-goer or exerciser, your go-to is the treadmill, the elliptical or the bike. It is there you slave away, slowly counting down the minutes (or counting up the calories burnt) until you can get off, take a shower and get on with the rest of your day.
While cardio is a great way to get and keep our bodies moving, it is not the be all and end all of exercise. The effectiveness of cardio also comes down to how you are actually doing it, however this is something I will cover in a later post.
My suggestion to you is this: shun the cardio for a while. Resistance (or weight) training is where it’s at. Sure, pin weight machines and free weights don’t have a computerised screen that tell you how many calories you’ve burnt or how far you’ve gone, but the effects weight training will have on your body far outweigh any modern technological developments.
Personally, I find that my body responds exceptionally well to weight training. Whenever I am feeling a bit flabby, I hit the weights (even if only for 30 minutes) and the next day I feel leaner and tighter than I did before. (I actually find that lifting weights as my only form of exercise, coupled with a low-carb diet means I never put on weight).
Lifting weights lifts your metabolism tremendously (research has shown up to 15%) and it doesn’t just stop ticking along when you finish working out. Following a weights session, your metabolism burns at a higher rate throughout the remainder of the day, ensuring your body effectively uses and burns through the fuel you put in it. You will effectively be torching calories even while sitting on your butt watching television later that night. Cardio will not do that for you.
Building muscle can also reduce risk of injury. As your body responds to the weight training, it becomes stronger and less prone to being hurt. Lifting weights has been shown to reduce the risk of bone deterioration and muscle wastage through diseases like osteoporosis. Weight lifting also helps to melt away visceral fat as well as fat that builds up around the body’s organs, which has been associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
There is a misconception that weight training is only for men. This myth needs to be dispelled now. Women – it will not make you bulky and it will not make you look like Arnie. If you haven’t lifted weights before, start off with small dumbbells. Aim to perform three sets of 12-15 repetitions of each exercise (for workout ideas and inspiration, check out websites like Women’s Health [or Men’s Health] and Lorna Jane.) The pin weight machines are also a great place to start, although if you are more advanced in your resistance training, try to stay away from these as they can encourage you to be lazy when lifting, or to favour one side of your body over the other.
Another benefit of resistance training is that you can get a lot more bang for your buck in a much shorter time. A 30 minute high intensity weight lifting session can get your heart rate up and your muscles burning in no time. To up the intensity at any given time, reduce the period of rest time in between sets. Be careful however to always ensure you are performing each exercise correctly (even if that means you have to perform it at a slower rate) to reduce risk of injury.
Next time you’re in the gym, give the weight lifting section a try. Your muscles will hurt the next day (give them time to rest when this occurs as this is when prime muscle building takes place) but resistance training, when built into a regular exercise plan will get you leaned up in no time.