I’m myth busting today!
The most common complaint of women is they don’t like they’re bodies, normally due to extra fat or lack of tone. So what’s the solution? Running 5 miles on a treadmill? Nah, not by a long shot. So is the answer lifting weights?
Is it really the best thing for weight loss? Judging by the title, you should probably be saying yes by now…
but why is it? What effect does it have on the body and your metabolism?
Muscle burns fat
But, we know that, right? Apparently not!
The idea, no wait, sorry.. the fact! That muscle burns fat has been well established from the early 90’s, before that it was all spandex, lycra and Jane Fonda dvd’s. We were set on increasing the heart rate through cardio and long intense workouts. When we should have all been upping our weight training to trim our tummies!
How does the muscle burn off fat?
Let’s start from the basics, our bodies (all of them) have some muscle, its what enables us to lift up our heavy bones! That muscle needs fuel, to be able to pick your bodies up out of your chairs or be able to carry those shopping bags. The heavier the bags or the more you use those muscles, the bigger they need to be. Your body realises that you’re using your muscles more and thus they need to be bigger to help you survive (our bodies still think we have predators).
It goes without saying that the bigger the muscles are..the more fuel they’re going to need! That’s why people who have obviously more muscle on their bodies eat more.
Even Victoria’s Secret Models eat more than you do, it’s hard to believe but their muscle has burnt off so much fat that they’re down to around 18% fat and the rest is just lean muscle . So they look toned and fit and eat a tonne! Let’s not forget they work damn hard for it though, 3-4 hours a day to add more muscle to their bodies.
The fuel it needs is in calories or ‘fat’ so, depending on how much muscle you have on your body, determines how much ‘fat’ or ‘food’ your body needs to burn off.
The Cardio VS weight training debate
We obviously know that when we exercise, our bodies burn calories to fuel the activity. As the muscles are being worked your brain is fueling your muscles with your ‘spare’ calories. But exercise is the gift that keeps on giving. That’s because even after we’re done with our workouts, and we’re sitting in our Pyjamas our bodies are still burning calories. This is called our metabolic rate (how much more fat we burn after our workout) or our metabolism, I’ll get back to that next week.
Cardio burns fat too!
You’re engaging your muscles quickly and your heart rate is going up (your heart’s a muscle) so you’re burning fat from the start of your workout! But..it doesn’t last long, your metabolic rate drops as soon as your muscles repair themselves and since it’s not a muscle workout, they repair quickly! Even at best it’s, cardio is not the big calorie burner you need. It’s like standing up all day, sure you’re burning calories but not as many as you would if you were engaging your muscles, like walking up stairs!
Like I said above, the bigger the muscles, the more fuel they need to burn, so the best fat burners are obviously muscle based. You’re engaging the larger muscles and putting a lot of strain on them to encourage quick growth and a lot of fat burning!
So why aren’t more people weight training?
*bangs head* I’ve just told you it’s the best for you (and have been encouraging it for years) so what’s stopping us from picking up the hand weights and getting our sweat on?
It’s that niggling worry that we’re going to ‘bulk’ our bodies out. The tragedy!
We’d rather spend hours on a treadmill eating as little as possible to trim the fat, but still have wobbly bits here and there over a quick 15-minute exercise routine that encourages fat loss and muscle gain (aka ‘toning’). The Myth that picking up a 10lb set of hand weights is going to turn you into an Arnie within the month, drives me bonkers!
To be able to sustain a body like that you’d need to be working on it for hours a day, so no. Picking up your Davina hand weights isn’t going to make you look like the hulk. A weight of 5-8lbs in each hand should give you enough weight to slowly add muscle and burn off calories where as a weight of 8-12lbs is more likely to burn fat for longer.
I think the biggest reason people don’t use weights is because people are used to doing cardio. It’s become the ‘done’ thing, not to mention that it doesn’t strain the body too much. You can burn off 300 calories on a treadmill for an hour and have no pains the next day,
Cardio has become the ‘done’ thing, not to mention that it doesn’t strain the body too much. It has become taboo for a woman to lift weights and that really shouldn’t be the case. You can burn off 300 calories on a treadmill for an hour and have no pains the next day, or lift weights for 20 minutes a day and feel a bit achey, but it pays off in the long run.
FAQ about weight training.
Cardio burns fat quicker, but more effort is needed. Short intense strength training workouts are proven to improve motivation and body confidence. As the muscle goes on to the body the body tightens up making the appearance much improved. Cardio removes fat making the body a bit smaller, but just as jiggly!
Slowly does it!
You’ll find that, as your body wants muscle, it’ll add it quicker than it will lose the fat. Don’t worry , you won’t add too much before the fat goes and even then it’ll be an uphill battle to keep the muscle on your body and the fat off of it. So keep training your muscles, they won’t get too big. I promise.
If you find that you’re weight training routine is making you hungry, then eat.
I typically eat around 1,400 calories a day comfortably. However, in the summer season, I up my weight training and cardio sessions. Burning around 400 calories per day, that’s 400 calories plus the metabolic calories I’m burning too! to keep the metabolism happy it needs extra food to ‘play’ with. So I add those 400 calories I burn off to my diet, and let my metabolism burn off the extra calories I want to lose. Make sense?
So in summer I eat 1,700 and burn off around 500 calories (up to 350 from a workout). Where as in Winter I eat 1,400 and don’t burn off many. I may only be losing 200 calories of fat per day (1lb in 2 and a half weeks) but I’m building a lean and toned muscular body underneath, and one that loves my metabolism! *Grab a calorie calculator
Finding the right weight for you.
It’s a lot simpler than people make it. Typically your body can handle so much strain before the muscles start to hurt, the hurting is just the muscle being pushed to it’s limits, but you can push past that. Start at 10 reps in the weight of you choice, I’d recommend starting at 5lb per hand, did you struggle at 8 reps? Then 10 is fine! If you struggled at 10 reps or not at all you need to increase the weight. I normally suggest 3kg (5lb) for dumbells or kettle bell if you’re a beginner. Anything above that is brilliant!
Mix it up to keep it off!
Obviously the best way to burn fat and keep it off is doing a mixed routine. This way you add muscle and burn fat, but also you give your body time to heal it’s self and not compromising on losing out on a fat burning workout. So whilst your muscles repair you can do some light cardio! Don’t forget I have a tonne of playlists with workouts on so pop over and check out some of those workouts!
I’m currently working on a huge project for metabolisms, why they change, how they change and what happens when you break your metabolism (yup, you can temporarily break it). Today’s article was really last minute as I didn’t realise how big the metabolism article was going to be. So I delayed it, to give me enough time to get all the information into the article for next week.
I hope you have a brilliant week ahead and a sun-filled bank holiday!