Resistance Training vs Cardio for Weight Loss

Short answer; contrary to popular belief, resistance training is better.

Before we get to why resistance training is the best strategy for a weight loss program, let’s consider the reasons people might opt for a different option instead. Some of this we already covered in the first entry; people choosing the most difficult and unpleasant option available to them… especially in terms of diet. Although misguided, it is understandable that if you associate diet and exercise with being difficult and unpleasant, you might looking for the most difficult and unpleasant program.

More often though, people’s belief systems or self perception influences them in the opposite direction. Not really being confident of their potential for success, they subconsciously gravitate towards products or programs that are unlikely to result in success. Similarly, people are often reluctant to follow a training style that they associate with “fit people”, if they identify as a “fat person”. This usually manifests itself as “I’ll try your program once I’m in better shape, I’ll just stick to walking on the treadmill for now”.

So what we’re talking about is basically “I’m a fat person, so I’m going to do what fat people do. Once I’m fit, I’ll start doing what fit people do”.

The only problem is, you don’t get fit by limiting yourself to activities that seem appropriate to a fat person. You get fit, by doing what it takes to get fit! So, when you see fit people in the gym following a legitimate training routine… it’s not that they are able to do that routine because they are so fit, it is that they have gotten fit by doing that routine!

Now, there’s nothing wrong with choosing a training program because it’s a social activity that you can do with your friends, or because it will prepare you for being able to participate in a sport or event. That’s not what you are here for though. You are here for a program that will result in real weight loss (fat loss, specifically) and a great figure. It’s important to choose the course of action that is most appropriate to the desired result.

Of course what I am talking about here is a full body resistance training program, such as my Power, Precision, Pump & Posture program available through this site. Getting to the point of why resistance training is so beneficial in a weight loss program, I’m about to hit you with some serious information that is going to put you so far ahead of the game.

Are you ready? Pay attention now and really process what I am about to tell you.

The Purpose Of Exercise Is NOT To Burn As Many Calories As Possible.

This is probably the single most misunderstood aspect of exercise for weight loss, and probably not by any accident. When you think about it, the obsession with burning calories is selling a lot of products from treadmills to heart rate monitors and exercise programs themselves. Burn more calories, lose more weight, right?

Well, not necessarily. Especially when people are often not consuming enough calories in the first place, and then obsessively trying to burn them off.

Here’s an analogy for you. To build something… let’s say a cabin. You take the appropriate amount of materials, and work with those materials to form a strong and functional structure. But to build a strong, healthy and attractive physique; we’re going to start with a small amount of materials and then…. burn them?

Are you guys and girls picking up what I’m throwing down? Can you see how little sense this common strategy really makes?

Consider which calories your body is going to choose to burn as well. People assume this means “fat burning” but in actual fact, when your body is under fuelled and over worked the response is to conserve energy. The survival mechanism kicks in, cortisol and other stress hormones increase, and lean (muscle) mass is seen as expendable. Under these conditions the body will only burn fat as an absolute last resort when it has literally no other option for survival.

This explains why so many of your friends who spend an hour or two on the treadmill every night while hardly eating fail to make any real progress towards their goal body type. They’re putting in the effort, but as I said in the first entry, they just aint doing the right things.

OK, so here’s what we are going to do instead.

We have already dialled in our IIFYM nutrition plan with appropriate calories to maintain our primary goal weight at BMI 23 or 25. So, we already know that we are going to end up at this weight, all that is left to do is train in a manner to encourage maximum fat loss. Remembering that muscle takes up less space than the equivalent weight in adipose (fat) tissue, not only will we end up at our goal weight, but with a smaller, more lean and toned figure.

To do this we follow a full body resistance program, focussing on progressive overload of the major muscle groups through heavy compound movements. This is the “Power” section of my program. We compliment these exercises with more precise movements to target specific smaller muscles to build a balanced, symmetrical physique with impeccable posture.

While we are expending a similar amount of energy (perhaps more) during training as we might with a steady state cardio program, the difference here is that we have assured that we are adequately fuelled to support our goal weight at this activity level. More significantly though, it is often said that resistance training leads to burning more calories throughout the day, rather than just while training. Even this misses the point.

Rather than simply “burning off” calories, this form of training forces the body to use the fuel that we consume throughout the day to replenish the energy stores in the muscles and liver, while also promoting the maintenance and increase in muscle mass. Since we are consuming a range of calories to support a lower bodyweight, this can only happen at the expense of fat stores.

Remember again, muscle takes up less space than fat. I’ve covered this subject in more detail in an article answering the age old question; “will weight training make me bulky“?

In case you were still in any doubt whatsoever, the answer is no. Weight training makes you smaller, not larger.

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