I’m talking to you ladies! Yes, you- the cardio machine hopper who’s dripping puddles of sweat as you strategically increase your incline on the treadmill. Then you go through your spinning exercises, then elliptical, and then yet another fancy machine your gym has. And let’s not forget the men! Running on the pavement in the morning does not compensate for the days you skip your exercises. Your lower body needs just as much focus as your biceps.
Lose fat, not weight
Here’s the thing- Cardio is all about burning calories. Your body has 3 energy sources where your calories are stored: the stored liver and muscle glycogen (and glucose running in your blood), stored fat and muscle. Each one of them can be converted to energy, when needed. If you only do cardio, your body has no reason to spare muscle and hence taps into it for energy once your glycogen levels become low. This leads to loss in muscle mass and results in prototypical ‘skinny fat body’ where your weight goes down but for some reason, you still feel flabby, and the weight comes back once you stop doing that much cardio. Simply put, it’s just not sustainable.
Doing strength training, on the other hand, gives your body a reason to spare the muscle and utilize fat after it runs out of stored glycogen levels. And with time, as you get stronger, you also gain lean mass which further increases your metabolic rate aiding in fat loss.
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You don’t need to be fit to start
“I have started running. Once I build some stamina, I’ll join the gym or hire a trainer”.
If I only got a 100 rupees every time I heard this, I’d be pretty rich by now. The truth is you don’t need to be anywhere to start training. A good trainer will assess you and find exercises easy enough for your fitness levels to begin with. This is why it is important to hire a trusted professional at the get-go and learn the art of strength training.
But wait, isn’t cardio good for health?
We all need some endurance work as it trains our cardiovascular system to stay strong. But, steady state cardio isn’t the only option to keep your heart fit. As a trainer, I design all programs to incorporate strength training in form of high intensity circuits. Fancy name aside, it’s just lots of strength training exercises done one after the other so that while your muscles get some rest in between, your cardiovascular system has to keep working to pump blood in different areas of the body. You get done in less than 40 minutes. It is effective, intense and customizable.
Can you explain this in English, please?
Here’s a quick template you can use to choose exercises from a variety of movement types. Do some warm-up to begin with. Choose one exercise from each group according to your fitness levels and access to equipment and do them 4 times one after the other. The number of repetitions in each set should be such that you stop when you still have 1-2 reps left in the tank and move on to the next exercise.
- A squat variation (back squat, goblet squat, air squat)
- A press variation (pushups, bench press, overhead press)
- A Lunge variation (walking lunges, reverse lunges, step-ups)
- A pull variation (chin-ups, dumbbell rows, inverted rows)
- A core exercise (planks, swiss ball rollouts, pallof press)
This way, when you will do the 3rd and the 4th round, not only your muscles will be burning but you’ll be exhausted and sweating like never before.
As Alvin Toffler famously said: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn”. Give strength training a fair shot. Be patient and diligent with it for a minimum of 10-12 weeks and witness the results unfold.
And, if you’re not sure about where to begin, why not get some help from an expert?
If you want to know more about Parn, you can visit his website here: www.psifitness.in