There's a common perception that chugging along for hours at end in the gym doing cardio will help with weight loss. If you're one of those that have been thinking that way, you need to read along.
Not only is all cardio and no resistance training boring, it may actually result in fewer calories being burnt overall. Now, we're not claiming that cardio exercises don't help you with weight loss - they do, amongst other benefits, but it's not as effective as combining it with other forms of exercise.
Experts say you should also focus on resistance training for weight loss, as it helps build lean muscle mass, which also increases your metabolic rate and decreases fat. Essentially, this means that the more muscle you build during your workout, the more calories get burnt.
Getting into the nitty gritty details
So, what is the difference between pure cardio workouts versus those supported with various degrees of resistance training?
Cardio is generally a lower-intensity workout, meaning you burn fat at a much slower rate and you stop burning as soon as you stop moving. For burning fat quicker and even when resting, intensity is paramount - i.e. the higher the intensity of your workout, the more calories you burn.
To burn calories quicker while doing cardio, you should up the intensity, through interval training or sprints.
Resistance training on the other hand, gives you a much more intense workout and also continues to burn calories up to 24 hours after your last rep. Yes, that's right - you're burning calories even if you're lying on your couch post-training.
Help me decide what works best for weight loss
But before you ditch your cardio workouts for pure resistance training, it's worth noting that the golden rule for exercise is a combination of them all.
You should keep doing cardio as well as resistance training as cardio increases your endurance, agility and stamina and helps with recovery, while resistance workouts help build strength, and sculpt and tone your body.
Overall, when exercising for weight loss, it's best to focus on the intensity of your workouts and do a variety of styles to work a range of muscle groups.
Here is a suggested workout structure that incorporates a combination of low and high intensity workouts, as well as cardio and resistance, enabling your body to get the recovery time it needs, in addition to building consistency.
- Monday - High-intensity interval training, eg. HIIT, laps in a pool or circuit training
- Tuesday - Strength training, eg. bench presses, barbell rows, deadlifts and squats
- Wednesday - Low to moderate intensity exercise, eg. walking, pilates and yoga
- Thursday - High-intensity interval training, eg. HIIT, laps in a pool or circuit training
- Friday - Strength training such as bench presses, barbell rows, deadlifts and squats
- Saturday - Low to moderate intensity interval training exercise like walking, pilates and yoga
- Sunday - Rest
*High-intensity training involves working to a maximal heart rate of 70 to 85 per cent, while low to moderate intensity involves working to a maximal heart rate of 40 to 70 per cent.
Aim for at least 45 mins of exercise in each of these 6 days and you'll see results in no time!