Cardio Vs Weights Part 2.
In part 2 of our series, Health Club manager Louise looks into the benefits of weight-lifting and how it plays such an important role in improving your health and fitness.
Weights – ah, my holy grail, the reason that I exist. Now that we’ve debunked the myth about being bulky, let’s talk about what weight lifting does for you. Now, depending on what your rep range, set range and intensity levels are, you can lean out, put on lean muscle and get stronger. Putting on muscle doesn’t involve (for females) bulking up, it just means leaner, more toned and higher metabolic rate which leads to faster burning of calories. It’s also a quicker workout time than doing cardio; with a 40 minute tough weights sessions burning the same number of calories then approx. 80mins of decent steady state cardio. You also burn more calories long after you finish training with the afterburn effect lasting anything up to 8-10 hours whereas with cardio its 60-90mins. Will it get you looking good on the beach? Yes. Will it improve your CV fitness? Yes. Will it enable you to run a marathon? No.
With a higher metabolic rate, we tend to need more calories (the good kind) just to get through the day. Eating more won’t make you fatter, quite the opposite in fact. You are feeding the muscle tissue which enables it to train harder and more efficiently and gets you leaner. It has been long thought that muscle weighs more than fat. This is wrong, 5kg of muscle weighs the same as 5kg of fat. It’s just that the muscle will take up less space than the fat will and therefore, your scales might not shift much, but you will be smaller, tighter and more toned. Would you rather have a lighter number on the scales or a tighter body in your clothes?
Weightlifting has also massive health benefits including reducing heart disease, bad cholesterol and blood pressure and increasing blood flow, endorphins (feel good hormones) and bone density (among other things).
Fuelling for weight lifting is completely different than cardio and this is the part that most people find the most difficult. We are, as a race, pulled towards eating sugar, it’s in practically everything processed that we eat. It’s addictive, some say more so than cocaine but for weight lifting we don’t need it. Our diet should consist of good quality protein and fat and a small number of carbs. Eating little and often (grazing) is ideal for most as you’re never overly hungry and never overly full. This helps with keeping away sugar cravings that occur when your starving. Unfortunately, some people assume because they are working hard on the gym floor that they can eat what they like and this, my friends, is where the ‘bulkiness’ theory comes from! If you overeat, you’re going to get bigger, if you consume a lot of carbs, you’re going to get bulky because carbs are stored around muscle tissue as glycogen and glycogen is stored within extra water. You ever come back from holidays and notice that you’ve put on about 5lb on the scales? You’ve probably been consuming more alcohol, bread and pasta than you normally do and these are all sugars which are stored in water. A week in the gym and the scales are back to normal so it was primarily water weight that you’ve experienced.
In my opinion, to get that toned, tight body you really want, a mixture of both cardio and weights is ideal. You can get your cardio from resistance sources, you don’t need to jump on a cardio machine. Doing finishing, drop sets with lighter weights and little rest will get the heart rate up as will doing press-ups to failure. Tabata intervals at the end of your workout takes 3minutes and 50seconds and will go a long way to helping you get that body you want.
So finally, when choosing whether to do weights or cardio you need to decide what exactly you are looking to achieve and then get a programme that will help you do it!
Louise Kavanagh - Spencer Health Club Manager