Happy Monday! I’m so glad you’re here kicking off your week with me! It’s Week 2 of the S I M P L E Series, and this week is all about Fitness for Fat Loss.
I personally believe that the key to any kind of weight/fat loss lies somewhere between enjoyment and consistency. If exercise feels like a chore, you’re way less likely to stay consistent. However, there are/will be days when you just don’t enjoy the process as much as others – this is where consistency and self-discipline take over.
Bottom line: Find something you enjoy, and do it often! Whether it’s walking/running, swimming, cycling, Zumba, barre, yoga, group classes, traditional weight training, or a combination of them all – just do it!
Sometimes it seems overwhelming, and it can be discouraging to try something new and not see immediate results – I get it. When I began this journey, I had zero idea of what I was doing, and I totally bought into the misconception that cardio was the most effective way to lose weight. Imagine my frustration when I wasn’t leaning out like the people in the Pinterest pictures. So, in hopes of sparing you that frustration, I’m sharing what I’ve learned – through experience – and I’m making it s i m p l e. No, you won’t get toned arms and strong shoulders from hours on the treadmill, but you can pick up a dumbbell and build strength you’re proud of!
So – since we’re here to make this whole ‘fitness for fat loss’ thing s i m p l e, I’m breaking down one of the biggest questions/debates in the fitness/weight loss industry…cardio vs. strength training. Which should I be doing to see the best results? How often should I be doing them? Where do I even start?
Cardio vs. Strength Training
If you’re looking to torch calories, cardio is totally the way to go. Cardio has been proven to burn more calories per session than traditional strength training. BUT – strength training allows your body to continue to burn more calories long after you’ve finished your workout.
When you lift weights, you are actually breaking down muscle fibers. After you workout, your body repairs and rebuilds these muscle fibers – hello, g r o w t h. This lean muscle is what allows your body to burn more calories while at rest. Simply put, more muscle = more calories burned [even while you sleep]. Just remember – while you may not see a significant change on the scale, your body composition is changing [more muscle, less fat…muscle is more dense than fat].
If you’re looking to burn some additional calories while strength training, try supersetting exercises [moving from one exercise to the next without rest], minimizing rest between sets, performing higher reps, throwing in some cardio bursts [jumping jacks, burpees, high knees, toe taps, bench hops] between sets, or adding 10-15 minutes of cardio to the end of your workout.
Now, let’s talk cardio. Yes, you still need it! In fact, the most effective exercise for fat loss is a combination of both strength training and cardio, at least 3-4 times a week. Cardio is beneficial for several reasons. 1) You burn more calories per session than most any other form of exercise. 2) Your brain releases endorphins – you know, that good feeling and mood boost you get at the end of your workout?! Endorphins! 3) Cardio is great for cardiovascular and immune system health. 4) HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training – allows you to burn more calories in less time…win, win for us busy-bodies!
Consistency = KEY …so, find your favorite fitness routine and do it – consistently!
Also, it is so important to remember that exercise in only a PART of the equation. In order to lose fat, you must be eating in a calorie deficit – which means you are burning more calories than you are consuming. You cannot out-train your plate – and you should not be exercising to ‘make up for’ what you ate. At the same time, overtraining can be counterproductive, as muscle growth happens during the recovery. So, finding the balance between eating whole, nutritious foods and moderate exercise is crucial to your progress and results – and it’s likely going to be different for everyone. Find what works for you…even if it takes some time and trial and error. Progress, friends – not perfection!
Looking to get started? Here is a three-day strength training routine that can be done at home with only dumbbells! Of course, if you have access to a gym or additional equipment, you can do any variation of the exercises and modify to fit your needs.
The workouts are broken down into a Push/Pull/Legs split. One training day is devoted to upper body ‘push’ movements [chest, shoulders, triceps], one day for upper body ‘pull’ movements [back + biceps], and one day for lower body exercises [legs + glutes]. Each workout is written to take around 45 minutes, but you can always modify to accommodate your schedule. Throw in a few cardio sessions on top of these each week and you will see progress – not just in the way you look, but in the way you feel, too. *The BEST results come when your fitness and nutrition are both in check.*
Feel free to click the links and save the workouts to your phone! 🙂
Disclaimer: I am not a certified trainer, dietician, or nutritionist. Any health and fitness information provided is just a recommendation based on my personal experience and knowledge. I strongly advise you to check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise regimen.