You run and you run, and you don’t shed a pound. It’s one of the leading emotional pain points for people who exercise. All of that effort and so little reward, but why is that? Simple: Cardio is not the fastest way to lose weight, and it’s certainly not the only way. There is a solution, through, which will allow you to spend less time in the gym and see even better results.
You’ve Heard: You Can’t Burn Fat With Strength Training
Far too many people are focused on how many calories they burn while they’re in the gym, but this is shortsighted.
Stop focusing on how many calories you burn in the gym and instead focus on how your body expends calories outside the gym. You burn calories throughout the day regardless of what you are doing, but exercise helps increase the rate at which you burn those calories. With most forms of traditional steady-state cardio (treadmill, running, elliptical), you expend calories while you’re exercising, but once you stop, you quickly go back to your normal metabolic rate.
Strength training, however, builds muscle, and more muscle helps you burn more calories — even when you’re doing nothing but sitting on the couch.
“Strength training is a critical component of any program than emphasizes long-term fat loss,” said Alwyn Cosgrove, co-author of the book “The New Rules of Lifting.” Think of it like this: Muscles are “thirsty” from a metabolic perspective. The more muscle you have, the more fuel you are constantly burning. This is the advantage strength training offers if your goal is to lean out. A treadmill or elliptical trainer is often seen as the quick fix to shed body fat, and they are certainly useful if your goal is to improve cardiovascular health, endurance or simply to burn some extra calories, but strength training is a powerful ally.
You’ve Heard: Running Is the Best Way to Get Fit
It’s not that running as an exercise is bad, but it puts a fair amount of stress on your muscles and joints. Recreational runners can have injuries caused by weakness in the core and hip-stabilizing muscles. The better plan is to take time to develop the muscles of your core and hips first instead of jumping off the couch and running three miles.
For the hip stabilizers, start off with basic single-leg exercises like split-squats, lunges and step-ups. For the core, exercises like front planks, side planks and bird dogs will help get you stronger and more stable, making you much less likely to injure yourself when you do decide to run that 5K.
Some people need activities that are a bit more joint-friendly, as the pounding caused by running on a treadmill or pavement is simply too much. If you like more traditional options, a dual-action exercise bike or rower will not only engage a ton of muscles, but take some of the stress off your joints as well.
If you want newer (and possibly more exciting) variations, consider kettlebell swings, medicine ball or barbell circuits, Prowler pushes, or even battling rope variations.
There are many different ways to get into shape, and while running is great, it’s just one option you have at your disposal.
To sum it up
Strength training can help you lose body fat and is likely a quicker ticket to better fitness than just plain cardio exercises. It also won’t limit your athleticism, but more likely improve it, and women can derive tremendous benefit from resistance training without getting bulky.
For those of you who like to run, it is one way to improve your fitness, but definitely not the only way. As with any program, though, you have to put in the work. It’s time to get into the gym.
~its about what YOU see in the mirror~
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