Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Combine Cardio With Weight (Strength) Training to Build Muscle and Lose Fat

cardio & strength-training-weight-lossMaybe a few of us dream to look like a supermodels, but absolutely everyone aspires to be fit and look good! It's really interesting how a little change in your fitness routine can accelerate your chances of achieving your goals. Exercise and a balanced diet plan will not only get you a fit body, but even a sharp mind! Contrary to what many people think, strength training is as important, maybe more important to successful fat loss than aerobic exercise. Spending hours a day doing cardio workouts may not be the best solution to tone and trim your body; you burn calories, yes, but you are mostly burning your muscle instead of fat, which would make you look flabby and leave you tired. This is where adopting a serious weight lifting routine comes to your rescue, especially for women, who find it harder to build muscle. So read on to find out why is weight-training important, and how should you go about it.
(img credit: google images)

Muscle vs Fat
"Losing weight" is synonyous with "losing fat, not muscle". Muscle tissue is very active--it burns a lot of calories. Every pound of muscle burns about 35 calories per day. Since there are 3500 calories in a pound of fat, you would gain almost one pound of fat per month just from the muscle mass that you lost! Inactive adults lose around one-half pound of muscle per year, or five pounds per decade. Since most people continue to eat as much as usual, if you take in more calories than you burn, the extra calories get stored as fat. Fat is less dense then muscle, which means that as you lose muscle and gain fat, your weight might remain the same over the years, but your waistline will continue to expand!

Strength Training Versus Aerobic Exercise
How can you lose and keep off extra fat? You need to increase your resting metabolic rate (RMR), which is the pace your body burns calories at rest. Your RMR is closely linked to the amount of muscle you have. Depending on the intensity and your weight, an aerobic workout (walking, cycling, stair stepping) will burn approximately 300 calories per hour, elevating the RMR temporarily up to a few hours, compared to strength training which elevates the RMR permanently. The RMR accounts for 60 to 75 percent of your daily calorie expenditure, so even a modest increase will help burn off more fat. This does not mean that overweight individuals shouldn't do aerobic exercise; it should be a part of a successful weight loss program. It's just that aerobic exercise by itself may not be the best solution for permanent weight (fat) loss.

So here are some basic requirements to get a fit and well-toned body:

Lower Body Workout
To improve your lower body, you must perform compound weight lifting exercises using a sufficient amount of weight. You should choose weight that allows you to do 5-10 repetitions before your muscles give up. Your lower-body workout should mainly include squats, deadlifts, leg press, and lunges. Free weights are the best, but if they are a bit too much for you, the exercise machines can surely help, though they are not as effective as free weights. Most importantly, Do Not be afraid of bulking up! As long as you don't eat more calories than your body is burning, it will not get bigger by weight lifting!

Upper-Body Workout
Your back, abs, arms, and shoulders all have the potential to carry a significant amount of muscle mass, too. Like with your legs, it's important that you choose a heavy-enough resistance, or weight. The heavier the weight and the more intense the workout is overall, the greater your post-workout caloric burn will be.

Repetitions and Intensity of Weights
Every individual's body works differently, so talk to a trainer and decide on how much weight you should lift and what would be the deal number of repetitions to do. Always start with lower weights with 2-3 sets comprising of 7-13 repetitions per set. Keep breathing (do not hold your breath) normally and lift and lower the weights slowly to get the maximum benefit. The basic rule is to Exhale while lifting weight and Inhale while lowering it down.

Combine with Cardio
As unfair as it may seem, it's common for men to be able to get and stay lean just by working out with weights and following a healthy diet. But for women who have a lower metabolic rate, cardio combined with weghts is very important. So try aiming for 30-40 minute of cardio workout at least 3 times a week. Try alternating between machines or routines to achieve maximum benefit.

Don't be afraid of weights; as long as you do it wisely, a consistent 30-minute workout as described above performed 2 -3 times per week is enough to get you lose those inches and make you fit and strong. It will keep you energetic and mentally alert too. But always remember that your body is your best guide. If you feel sore or weak, stop immediately and evaluate your program again. Talk about this with your physician and personal trainer and add strength-training to your workout routine today!! Hope this article helps you take the first step to a healthier body!

NOTE: The author is not a licensed nutritionist or physical trainer. Please use this article as a reference and discuss the best solution with your physician or trainer before following these tips.

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