So as alluded to in my previous posts and by My Fitness Journey videos on my YouTube channel I have spent the last two months adopting a weight training workout routine as opposed to one that is purely cardio based. I know I know what you are thinking, why would someone who is 5ft 1 (and a half…dont forget that half an inch!) want to start lifting heavy weights and get stocky!? There are many reasons for this and many myths that I would like to expel!
Firstly, weight training does not make you stocky and no that is not my aim. What weight training does do is make you stronger and build muscle mass. My aim for 2018 is to get lean which means building more muscle and losing excess body fat. This is very different to the ever sought after look of being slim or skinny. I have been there, I have run marathons, I have been ultra fit, or so I thought. During this period of my life I was what I like to call Skinny Fat!
I was very small, inbetween a UK size 4 and 6! I was obsessed with cardio thinking this was making me healthy. Yet, my fingers would still get lost in some belly fat, I wasn’t toned or lean, I was squishy. If you squeezed me too much I would have broken. I was kind of like a sponge, so fragile.
This is where we come onto the differences between Cardio and Weight Training. Lets start with the different forms of cardio. Contra to popular belief, Low Intensity Steady State Cardio (LISS) on its own promotes fat retension. Unfortunately the bad kind – visceral fat that is stored around belly area to protect our internal organs. Why would the world be so cruel? Well basically this is because whilst LISS it is excellent at burning fat, your body is intuitive enough to retain a certain percentage in anticipation for future workouts. If you run everyday of the week your body will quickly workout that it needs stored energy in the form of fat to be able to cope (not scientifically explained but you get the gist).
We now move on to High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). HIIT workouts are alternate periods of intensive moments, ones that raise your heart rate pretty much to it’s max, and short periods of rest. For example, 30 seconds of uphill sprints and 30 seconds rest, repeated for 10 minutes. This type of workout constantly raises and lowers your heart rate promoting increased fat burn. Basically you work harder not longer. Sounds good right!? Ha wait until you try a HIIT session!
You may not believe me until you hear some of the technical sciency stuff…so how does this all work? Studies show that HIIT improves insulin sensitivity by anywhere from 23-58%. This is crucial because insulin sensitivity helps to increase fat loss. Additionally, unlike LISS, HIIT promotes increased calorie expenditure post workout otherwise known as Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (E.P.O.C). Dr. Len Kravitz has noted that after a HIIT session, “oxygen consumption and caloric expenditure remain elevated as the working muscle cells restore physiological and metabolic factors in the cell to pre-exercise levels. This translates into higher and longer post-exercise caloric burn.” There are many studies that confirm the above so have a search for them.
Weight Training has also been proven to increase E.P.O.C. So you can go to the gym train those muscles, get your heart working with some HIIT and your body will be rapidly burning calories all day. Unfortunately with LISS you immediately stop benefiting from fat burn when you stop working out.
So how does Weight Training mirror the effects of HITT? Try squatting or bench pressing your max weight (at the moment mine is 60kg for squats and 25kg for bench) and you will feel your heart pounding. For those who are complete beginners weight training is broken down into Reps and Sets. A typical workout will usually consist of 3 sets of 12 reps per exercise (ish!). This however completely depends on the Weight you are lifitng and the exercise. In between sets you will have a rest hence the mirroring of HIIT.
Weight Training will of course build muscle mass. The more muscle you have the more energy your body will use to fuel those muscles and hence the greater your resting rate of calorie consumption will become! Sschimples 🙂
So these are just some of the benefits/differences between the different types of workouts. I will be covering food intake in my next post as this is as, if not more, important than our workouts.
But for now, the optimum workout routine is a combination of the above. Just doing LISS will NOT build muscle or get you lean. To see the increased benefits of fat burn from LISS you will always need to increase the length at which you are training and no one got time for that na na na!
Just doing HIIT will burn fat but won’t see you getting stronger and toned.
Just doing Weight Trainning will get you stronger but not necessarily leaner.
Therefore aim for a workout plan that combines all of the above and works for you!
Next up comes the exciting part about all the food you will need to eat to ensure you are seeing the benefits of this training!
Until then you fit folk!