What do most of us do in an attempt to get into best shape? Hit the treadmill or elliptical trainer for 30 minutes!
From my experience as a Personal Trainer and Lifestyle coach, I know cardio is an overrated tool for weight loss and hence why I don’t really incorporate it too much in my clients programs.
The truth is that anyone who is overweight is actually nutritionally depleted and their bodies are already stressed out through poor lifestyle choices – lack of quality sleep, caffeine and sugar addiction, weak muscles and stiff joints and fatigued adrenal function to name but a few.
Cardiovascular exercise is in fact a further stress to the body. Imagine being a chased by a lion for 30 minutes and you can start to imagine how much stress hormones are released into our blood stream!
Our body does not differentiate between being chased by a lion or running on a treadmill belt so cortisol, our primary stress hormone, is pumped out as a way for our bodies to deal with this situation.
On top of our already stressed out lives – waking up early to get to work, getting the kids off to school on time, dealing with emails all day and eating unhealthy food we then add to all this stress by going through the motions on cardiovascular equipment.
Every time cortisol is elevated our adrenal glands have to work overtime trying to get bring these levels down. All the good hormones decrease in the body too when cortisol is high.
So why do we pound away at our joints on the treadmill or continue our love of sitting down with the recumbent bicycle?
The manufacturers do a pretty good job at marketing their uber expensive equipment and brainwash us into thinking we are burning a lot of calories.
They also make it very easy for us to be distracted by fitting in TV screens causing us not be in tune with our body and mind.
We also feel like we’ve done something when we get a little sweat on and achieve a sense of satisfaction.
So what is the answer then? Stop exercising? Never!
We should try and choose resistance training over cardio at any given opportunity.
Resistance exercises stimulate the metabolism for up to 72 hours after exercise whereas our metabolism drops back to its resting state as soon as we finish up with our cardio workout.
We are only stressing the body when we actually lift the weight which, on average is 6.5 to 8 minutes during a 30-minute weights workout as opposed to the 30 minutes of constant stress reaction during the cardio.
Once our body adapts to cardio exercise our metabolic stimulation goes down and you hit a plateau in your gains and this usually happens after the first month. When using weights, as long as you change your program every 4-6 weeks your body will continue to have an increased metabolic rate for up to 72 hours!
For those who feel you don’t sweat too much during a weights session just needs to look at anyone huffing and puffing between sets to know you are getting a workout!
Cardio also causes the body to lose muscle tone and you just need to compare the physiques between a sprinter and a long distance runner for the evidence!
Whereas resistance training nicely shapes the body and sculpts the muscles as well as being a lot more fun and interesting using different modalities like kettle bells, dumbbells, medicine balls and stability balls!
So, if you wish to make your workouts a lot more varied, less stressful and more importantly effective and also want to burn calories all day long then it’s time to step off that Step machine and pick up a dumbbell!
Most gyms have a decent free weights area and we can of course use our own bodyweight and exercise in the great outdoors or at home.