Updated: Nov 27, 2021
As we go through our fitness journey it is very easy to get intimidated by the resistance training side of the gym and focus mostly on the cardio. If your goal is fat loss, even more so. You may have hit a point where you are doing so much cardio and stopped losing as much weight as you once were. What gives? It may be time to shift your focus away from cardio and more onto resistance training.
What is Your Goal?
First let’s take a step back. It’s easy to get so caught up in fat loss, and burning calories we forget what we are doing it for. Are you still trying to lose weight or are you just afraid of putting the weight back on? Are you trying to lose weight or lose fat? These are all different goals.
If you have lost the weight but are afraid of putting it back on, doing excessive cardio isn’t the answer. We need to find a way to still get the caloric burn in, while dialing back on the cardio. It is simply not a sustainable lifestyle to just be doing tons of cardio each day. One thing you could do is incorporate more resistance training and switch some of your cardio to step count. In other words, if you aren’t lifting already, incorporate 2 days of lifting full body. If you can figure out your current step count, try and hit that same number by finding time in the day to go for walks with your dog or family rather than cardio. This will switch it into a most sustainable and healthy habit.
It’s Not Just About Calories
Are you trying to lose weight or body fat? Believe it or not that is not the same goal. If all you want to do is lose weight (muscle included), then focusing on cardio is going to be your quickest way to burn calories. The problem is, your body doesn’t care how you look. If you are in a deficit of calories and doing tons of cardio you are providing no signal to hold onto your muscle. You are just creating an optimal environment to get rid of everything on your body. The end result is a smaller flabbier version of yourself.
The Benefit of Resistance Training
Your body needs a strong signal for muscle building or muscle retention in order to have that “tone” or leaner look most people shoot for. This is achieved through adding 2-3 days of resistance training. Lifting weights, and focusing on progressive overload, sends the muscle building signal our body needs to grow or maintain the muscle on our physique. You may not burn as many calories in a given session, but in the long run, having more muscle on your body burns more calories just at REST..
As mentioned earlier, you may have hit a point where you are doing a ton of cardio and the weight is no longer coming off. It may be time for a change up, if nothing else. When I have clients come to me eating 1500 calories, and 4+ days of cardio, it means their metabolism has slowed down and adapted to the stimulus being placed. What is necessary at this point is to rev your metabolism back up. This is done through first slowly increasing your calories (start by adding 100 calories a day), so that your body can start getting nutrients back in. Then, if we aren’t already, we make sure you are lifting 2-3 days a week, so that our body can use up this extra addition of fuel. Your body will soak this up, as you are now adding more volume in the gym, and thus need the extra fuel to grow. Eventually you should hit a point where your calories are at 2500+, and your cardio is down to 2-3 days a week (for general health). Don’t worry about your weight fluctuation. 2-5lbs is normal as you start eating more carbohydrates which stores water along with it, as well as the overall increase in food in your stomach.