“My weight loss results are so slow! I should probably just do more cardio!”
Many of us have turned to cardio in the past to try to see better results faster.
But not only may this additional cardio actually be SABOTAGING our fat loss results, we may see better results by simply adjusting our weight training routine.
And if you’re about to say that diet is key, yes it matters most for fat loss.
However, the most efficient results, and most lasting, happen when our diet and workouts work together.
And when it comes to amazing body recomposition, weight training wins out over cardio in terms of the biggest benefits!
Better fat loss happens when we see our training as a chance to build muscle!
So how is cardio sabotaging your fat loss and what are 5 ways to see better results?
First let’s ask Why do we turn to cardio in the first place?
We turn to cardio in an attempt to burn more calories.
And it does…At least to start.
But not only do we adapt to not actually burn as many calories over time as we get used to the distance and pace, but we can also end up creating too extreme a deficit to start between our training and calorie intake, which can result in metabolic adaptations.
We can lose muscle mass through this overtraining and underfueling.
Not to mention we can send our body into survival mode, which means we will actually find ways to expend less calories during the course of our day.
This ultimately NEGATES the increased calorie burn from our training.
Now if you’re a runner or cyclist or endurance athlete, I’m not telling you to stop doing what you love.
I’m just saying that if your goal is fat loss, don’t jump to doing more cardio just to try to burn more calories.
What we also don’t realize is that doing more, training for longer and harder, especially if we are in a calorie deficit, can simply make sticking to our diet even harder.
Ever notice you’re HUNGRIER when you start adding in more training sessions, especially more cardio?
Another big thing we don’t consider when we add in cardio is how much HUNGRIER it can make us, especially if we are already in a deficit to lose.
So while the under eating while overtraining itself can create metabolic adaptations and hormonal imbalances, it can double sabotage us by making us feel like our body is fighting the deficit even more.
And ultimately, often we not only give in and eat more, but we end up overeating. And overeating for awhile.
This quickly leads to us falling off our new healthy routine and makes us feel like we’ll never have the willpower to make a change.
Plus we end up gaining the weight back and usually more…and let’s face it, it’s not muscle we are regaining. It’s fat.
When we repeat this yo-yo dieting cycle, each and every time it becomes harder and harder to lose.
While we start to blame getting older or hormonal changes, often it is simply these previous attempts to out exercise our diet or time that have added up!
So how can you stop this cycle and dial in your STRENGTH workouts to see the results you deserve?
Tip #1: Address all of a muscle’s functions!
When you think about a specific muscle group, you have a “go-to” move. And often, they are go-to moves for a reason.
However, the more experienced a lifter you are, the more you want to consider including a variety of movements to work specific muscles to challenge yourself.
This can lead to better muscular development and definition because you’re addressing all of the actions a muscle performs.
We need to focus on retaining and building muscle if we want to look leaner and lose fat. You aren’t going to become the hulk lifting heavy.
So if you want to see the best results, consider implementing different moves for the same muscle group over the course of the week.
If you want to work your hamstrings, maybe you include an Romanian Deadlift, but also a seated hamstring curl or a glute bridge and curl.
Not only do these moves then address the fact that your hamstrings work during hip extension , but you also address their ability to flex or bend your knee.
And then even while addressing the hamstrings ability to flex your knee, you are putting your hips in two different positions (extended with the bridge and flexed when seated) to again work the hamstrings in different ways.
Use those different postures and positions, not to mention even single leg vs two legged movements, to progress exercises and challenge your muscles!
Tip #2: Extend rest periods.
Now this doesn’t mean standing around on your phone for 3-5 minutes looking at instagram between sets.
But it does mean realizing that if we want to keep working at a true 100% intensity, we need to give ourselves TIME to recover between rounds.
Often when we are short on time or want to make workouts FEEL harder, we cut out rest.
But this also causes our intensity to dip.
If you want to really challenge yourself to really work muscles, you’ve got to be able to push each and every round.
So use that rest between sets!
But this doesn’t have to mean full rest.
You can even make sure a muscle group is given time to recover by alternating areas worked in supersets or trisets.
This can help you work more areas efficiently, resting one area while working another, especially if you need a quicker training session.
And by working more muscle groups in a session, while being able to push hard, you will even increase your calorie expenditure during your training session.
Tip #3: Push to failure.
If you’ve ever just thought to yourself, “I’ll do 10 reps” and stopped at 10 because it felt hard enough, you need to push harder.
Now this doesn’t have to mean you literally can’t lift the weight or you faceplant in a push up.
But you need to push to that point where you wanted to stop 2 reps ago but could complete the round while still engaging the correct muscles.
You need to push closer to that point of failure.
Don’t be afraid, if your workout says 8-12 reps, to even have to put the weights down at 6, rest for 15-30 seconds then finish even 2 more reps to push slightly past what you could have done in a row.
This push almost past failure will help you see really efficient muscle gains and will help you challenge your body.
If you want to lose fat, increasing your lean muscle mass is the best way to boost your metabolism and see lasting results!
Tip #4: Use a variety of rep ranges.
How many reps and sets? What rep range is best?
The simplest and best answer is, use a variety.
Focus on building strength and working with those big heavy lifts in the 3-5 rep range.
Focus more on muscle gains with compound movements that make you max out in the 6-12 rep range.
Or focus on that strength endurance by working up toward 20 reps even!
All of these rep ranges benefit each other, allowing you to lift more to drive muscle growth or even have better endurance to recover faster while lifting heavier!
The key is making sure you challenge yourself for the reps you do.
No load should ever feel “light.”
And what reps you assign may even be impacted by the muscle group and type of exercise you’re including.
For isolation moves, like bicep curls, you may do slightly more reps, working in the 10-15 rep range, over attempting a 5 rep max.
For a heavy compound lift like the Barbell Row, you may try to hit failure at 5 reps when including it first in your workout.
Both moves and rep ranges could be included in the same workout as you go from heavier more compound movements to more isolation exercises to target stubborn areas!
Tip #5: Focus on intensity over doing more. Quality not quantity.
Too often we think we don’t have time to get in the workouts we need to see results.
And sure, having a bit more time for training can have benefits.
But if you design for the time you have and focus on the QUALITY of your training sessions and giving your 100% effort, you are going to see results.
So stop making that excuse. And stop wasting your training sessions just going through the motions!
Too often we increase the number of rounds or res to increase the difficulty of the workout, instead of focusing on maximizing the intensity of each round.
Rather than feeling like you have the capacity to do more, figure out how can you push yourself to make the existing rounds feel more challenging.
Be intentional and get the most out of each rep. Don’t just go through the motions.
This will help you build that lean muscle!
And because diet is key, I want you to check out this video with tips to adjust your nutrition and a full day of eating next.
And guess what? One of those tips WILL be about one specific macro.
Because if you want to gain muscle while being in a deficit, macros, and specifically this macro, matters most…
Check out that video to learn why! (I know you want to know now ;-P )