From the Blog

What’s the Deal with Weight Training!?!

April 29th, 2010 - Fitness News


For most people, (with an exception to the few ‘genetically blessed’) exercise must become a part of your everyday lifestyle if you desire to loose (or maintain) weight.  I think one of the biggest ‘mis-understandings’ when it comes to exercising for weight loss is that you must do ENDLESS amounts of cardio to burn off as many calories as possible! I know this to be true, because I too once thought cardio (for at least an hour a day) was the only way to trim down and stay slim! Well…I’ll just say it now…I WAS SO WRONG!!!

Now, don’t get me wrong, doing cardio is an important element of weight loss, and it does have it’s benefits! However, it’s strength training that will help you not only loose weight, but will help you get the results that really LAST! I think the benefits of weight training (especially in women) are poorly understood, and are therefore greatly neglected.

It seems like everyone starts out their weight loss journey doing strictly cardio exercises. Which is a great place to start, and certainly better than no start at all! So, let’s start by discussing a few of the benefits of doing cardiovascular exercise, (which is any type of activity that gets your heart rate up.)

First and foremost, cardio gets your blood pumping through your arteries at a higher pace than normal, so it essentially prevents the ‘plaque’ (that leads to heart problems) from settling in your arteries, (aka helps keep your heart healthy!) Cardio also requires energy from your body, which means it requires calories, (aka it burns calories!)

Cardio usually works well at helping people ‘take off’ excess weight, but what usually ends up happening is people continue to do cardio (and maybe even become ‘cardio queens’ like I was) but eventually STOP loosing weight, and hit a plateau. This generally leads people to wonder what they are doing wrong…and so they do the next ‘logical’ thing which is cutting more calories. What people don’t realize is this combination is actually doing more harm than good!

You see, once your body ‘looses’ a certain amount of body fat, it will come to a HAULT in order to preserve homeostasis (aka a ‘comfy’ place for it to stay at).  In addition, once you have burned off a certain amount of body fat with cardio, your body will start to burn muscle in addition to fat. So, in order to prevent a weight loss plateau, and burning off muscle, you will need to incorporate strength training into your routine!

Now lets discuss the benefits of strength training!  First and foremost, strength training will build your muscles mass, which will in turn build your strength (hello…I can carry all 500 bags of my grocery’s inside no problem! ;)) Which is important if you would like to keep you body strong, and prevent injuries down the road!  Weight training also prevents osteoporosis, (which is a common problem for many women as they age), by building your bone density!

Building muscle also has the added bonus of appearing more ‘toned’ and strong! Also, women don’t have the testosterone to ‘bulk up’ like men do, so it’s not hormonally possible for a woman to get bulky muscles like a man can! I have much more I could say on this… but I would be going on far too long, so I encourage you to study it out for yourself if your still not sure!

Last but not least, here is the greatest part of weight training of all (if you ask me!) Muscle mass is ‘metabolically active tissue’ which means it uses energy to ‘survive’ in a sense, (which means it needs calories to be maintained). This means with every pound of muscle you build, you are burning  more calories when you are just sitting around! With cardio, you do burn calories while exercising, and you have a slightly higher ‘caloric burn’ a few hours after you are done.  However, with lifting weights, you will burn calories during your workout, and will continue to do so after you have stopped exercising for the day.

Now lets talk about how what your eating affects this whole equation!! When you are on a ‘diet’ or cutting calories, you will most likely lose muscle mass along with any fat you lose. This may cause your metabolism to slow down somewhat and you may find the pounds not coming off as fast as you would like (or plateau all together.) However by building your muscle, you are more likely to keep burning calories long term, with out a plateau effect!

As you continue to build up your endurance and can lift heavier weights you will continue to add more lean muscle mass, which in turn will burn more calories during the day. Another important thing about dieting is you also want to make sure you are eating ENOUGH calories to support your new muscle growth.

You need to be careful to start slowly and not move too fast when you start lifting weights. Lifting too much weight too fast can do more harm then good (remember, our bodies like homeostasis, and any drastic changes will cause your body to freak out and go into plateau mode!!!) :) Ok i’m being dramatic…But I would recommend seeking out advice from someone who is knowledgeable and experienced in weight lifting to help you out when you first start.

Now after RAVING about how awesome weight training is…I must add that weight training should not replace your cardio program, because as I discussed, there are many benefits in doing cardiovascular exercise as well. So, if you want the best results try mixing the two together. This should give you the positive benefits of both types of exercise!

If you have already ‘discovered’ the many benefits of adding weight training to your personal fitness routine, I’d love to hear about it!


Jennifer said:

Great post my dear! I used to be so naive about weights. I was like you figuring that cardio, cardio, and more cardio was the way to go. But what I didn’t realize is that you can end up burning muscle like you said in this post.When I learned that weight lifting keeps your body burning calories long after your workout is finished as compared to only doing cardio, I was convinced that I needed to incorporate it into my routine more often. It’s great to shape up by intense cardio, but having some muscle tone to go along with it is even better.

April 29th, 2010 — 2:01pm  |  Reply

Naomi (onefitfoodie) said:

aww thanks my dear!! im also a certified personal trainer :) haha…what a great shout out, I feel so honored and you have some great information here!!!

April 29th, 2010 — 2:14pm  |  Reply

april said:

I’m a lifting freak! I used to do cardio for an hour a day, 6 days a week. Silly me! Now I only do cardio once a week, and lift heavy weights 5-6 days a week. I look SO much better, and not to mention I’m eating twice the amount I was back then!! Muscle means more food! haha

April 29th, 2010 — 2:23pm  |  Reply

Katie Farrell said:

Woooo hoooo! :) So true April! Yeah for eating more and being ‘calorie burning’ machines! :)

April 29th, 2010 — 4:21pm  | 

Lisa said:

Here’s what Ive found to be true about lifting…

I started lifting about 3 years ago. I got fit, tight, and loved my body.

Even when I gained 10 lbs from my “ideal” (whatever that means) weight…my body still looks great bc it has structure/shape and muscle from lifting if that makes sense!

April 29th, 2010 — 2:25pm  |  Reply

Tina said:

Woohoo for sharing the benefits of weight training!!! It really is a key component of fitness. I love it and miss being in the gym lifting heavy. I couldn’t give up weights completely though. Power is still definitely in my rotation. Those classes can be the perfect challenge.

April 29th, 2010 — 2:48pm  |  Reply

Katie Farrell said:

So Tina.what is Power?! I like the sound of it! :)

April 29th, 2010 — 4:27pm  | 

Emily said:

so true. more weights= more food. halllellluahhh.

April 29th, 2010 — 6:25pm  |  Reply

Paige (RAN) said:

Awesome post, chica! Love the part about weight lifting not being able to “bulk” women up. I tend to cringe when my female clients mention the work “bulk.” hehe

April 29th, 2010 — 6:58pm  |  Reply

Melissa@HealthyBitesBits said:

Great article Katie! It still amazes me how many women I know are afraid to lift weights or even do the Stairmaster because they are afraid of getting bulky! I definitely agree with you on the cardio; I was the same way, endless time on the elliptical and HATED it. Its so much nicer working 2x as hard for 1/2 the time!!

April 29th, 2010 — 7:35pm  |  Reply

Jessica said:

Weight training has helped me tone up sooo much. I used to do sooo much cardio and I never looked any different after several years. After I started doing weights, I got so much more muscle definition. I think it also made my metabolism boost up because I have a lot less body fat too!

April 30th, 2010 — 12:21am  |  Reply

Allie (Protein Girl) said:

Great message. Don’t forget – Krista is THE ultimate resource on weightlifting for women.

April 30th, 2010 — 6:03am  |  Reply

Katie Farrell said:

Thanks for sharing Allie! I have actually never seen her site! We need more great resources…so i’m glad you posted this!

April 30th, 2010 — 6:41am  | 

Jessica said:

Thanks for the post Katie! I completely agree with the importance of weight lifting. I just recently decided to start weight lifting (after spending years doing only cardio), and I can’t believe the results! In only one month I feel like my metabolism is at an all time high.

I was pretty nervous to start weight lifting. Most of my gym consists of big burley guys. So I bought the Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises on Amazon for only $11. It has been really great for a new weight lifter. Every exercise has instructions and pictures. I would highly recommend it for anyone looking to start weight lifting!

May 8th, 2010 — 8:08pm  |  Reply

Tasha said:

Hooray! Great post!
Can I also add how satisfying it is when you get to the point where you realize that the weights you are using have become too light?! How quickly our bodies can change! So rewarding!

June 6th, 2010 — 8:38am  |  Reply

Katie Farrell said:

Thanks Tasha! :) So true!

June 6th, 2010 — 9:46am  | 

Workout Guy said:

I second that

June 13th, 2010 — 10:37pm  |  Reply

Ana Maria said:

when i used to think of weight training i thought of big guys at the gym grunting, but now i have a new appreciation for weight training and i can answer the question why lifiting weights is so important!

March 17th, 2011 — 9:40am  |  Reply

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