It is not the 1980’s and cardio is not what you need to lose fat

Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. -Lou Holtz


There are many different ways to lose weight. Most simply put, the body must consume more energy than it is being given. However, there are many factors that influence whether the body is using glucose (sugar), fatty acids, and/or amino acids(from protein).  These 3 either immediately enter the blood stream to produce energy through a metabolic pathway, or stored. The physical demands we place on our bodies, coupled with diet, decide if stored energy is taken for energy. This is not some mind-blowing statement. We all know this. This post discusses which “physical demand” is best for fat loss.

Aside from diet, strength training is the most crucial component in anyone’s fat loss regimen. I have assembled my top reasons for lifting weights as a primary function to meet these goals.

Lifting weights>Running
I have not done any form of endurance or cardio training for over a year, yet I have maintained >10% body fat for that same time period. Years ago I would have never imagined that this could even be possible. Every magazine or article that I read said you needed to get on the stair stepper, swim, or run miles and miles to be lean. Personal experience and the experiences of clients and friends, have re-shaped my views. High-intensity-resistance training induced a faster visceral fat loss, and thus the potential of resistance training should not be undervalued.

Strength/Resistance training burns more stored fat than other exercise.
There has been a long standing misconception that low-intensity exercise is the best way to lose weight, or more specifically, body fat. I believe the theory was that high-intensity exercise causes the the body to be catabolic (musculature break down for fuel). Research has since disproved this fallacy. Research actually suggest that your metabolism is boosted for at least an hour due to your body trying to help muscles recover. Weight lifting is a high intensity exercise seeing as it is bursts of intense exertion followed by periods of rest.  

Resistance training increases insulin sensitivity.
Insulin is responsible for encouraging the uptake of glucose, fats, and amino acids into cells. When we work out, we are trying to utilize stored energies for fuel, rather than allow our cells to accept more fuel. When we strength train, the associated high-intensity component strongly suppresses the release of insulin from the pancreas, therefore, reducing fat/glucose/amino acid storage. Insulin sensitivity is greatly increased even after small amounts of exercise. This matters because less insulin is required to get the same effect on glucose intake into muscle tissue. I use this knowledge daily to tailor my diet to one that causes little insulin release, why still enjoying the benefits of great amounts of glucose uptake into my muscle(flooding the muscle cells with nutrients), while limiting fat storage.

Resistance training increases levels of testosterone and human growth hormone. (refer to earlier post for explanation of this importance)
A resistance training plan that uses multi -joint lifts such as squat, deadlift, and power cleans, cause increases in muscle-building(anabolic) hormones. These increases encourage more lean muscle, which everyone can benefit from, especially the elderly, given that muscle mass tapers off after about age 40-50.

Weight lifting makes you feel good.
Weight lifting and other exercises generate the release of endorphins in the brain, which serve as an analgesic and contribute to that “feel good” sensation following a workout, Referred to as the “monoamine hypothesis,” which includes dopamine production as well as serotonin and endorphins, these benefits would seem to be an advantageous long-term effect of weight lifting on the brain, as long as the weight lifting does not involve steroid use.

Strength training does not have to involve a gym membership or a trainer. I believe in both of these choices, but strength training can be any high-intensity exertion using the muscles. You could use water jugs, sand bags, jungle gyms at the local park, heavy machinery, or anything else you can think of. The importance is that you have quick bouts of high exertion followed by periods of rest. The fat loss will come and you might even find out you become addicted, as many others have.


3 thoughts on “It is not the 1980’s and cardio is not what you need to lose fat

  1. Interesting article. What kind of rep scheme do you recommend for lifting weights for fat loss? Are high rep sets burning fat more efficiently than low rep sets?

    • Hey Tupac,
      Well the rep scheme that I recommend for fat loss will be whichever one you’re most likely to stick with. If you’re just starting out with resistance training I’d recommend something like a 5X5 routine. It’s an excellent way to build strength while still putting on some lean muscle mass. Cleaning/ limiting your diet mixed with a proven strength training routine is a recipe for seeing some solid results

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