Is Cardio a friend or foe?
A long, long time ago, in a gym far away, someone got everyone's attention in the fitness world, grabbed a megaphone, and screamed "CARDIO IS THE SECRET TO LOOKING TONED". *mic drop
Seriously though, sometimes I wonder how this way of thinking got so popular.
My hypothesis is it's because we all know that if your calories burned is greater than calories consumed you will lose weight. But weight loss doesn't equal a toned look. So we are all making this incorrect conclusion because we are confusing a lower body weight with a different body appearance.
I made this incorrect conclusion super early in my gym life. In high school I remember thinking I needed to be on the elliptical for AT LEAST an hour. Poor young me spent so much time on that hamster wheel, I wish I could turn back the clock and let her know how ineffective that is to getting toned. Also I would tell her to stop plucking her eyebrows cause bushy brows were coming back. #regrets
The reality is a more toned physique comes from lower body fat composition, of which your diet is the #1 factor.
But you'll be happy to know your gym time won't go wasted if you just focus on something other than just burning cals on the stairmaster. It turns out our bodies burn more fat when we are weight training. So you should starting picking up some heavy sh!t.
I'll break it down for you: when you weight train you are building muscle mass. When you build muscle mass, your muscles actually gobble up calories from your food in order to maintain themselves. This leaves fewer excess calories lying around, turning into fat. In fact, if you lower your calorie intake just a little bit, your new muscle mass will eat up some of your body fat. There's a delicate balance that you need to strike here, though, because if you cut your caloric intake too dramatically, your muscles will shrink and your body might feel threatened by starvation and begin to store extra fat, as a precaution.
This isn't to say that cardio is your enemy. Don't drop out of that half-marathon just yet.
Here's when Cardio is your friend:
- You are doing it to combat stress
- You are doing it to lose some weight
- You are doing it for the endorphins (hello SoulCycle)
- You are doing it to improve endurance
- You are doing it to compete in a race
- You are doing it because you love it
Here is when Cardio is a foe:
- You are doing it to 'burn off' something you ate
- You are doing it to burn fat
- You are doing it to look 'toned'
If the latter is why you spend endless hours on the cardio machines, I'm excited to say there is a better way. Weight training is going to be more beneficial for fat loss, and has been proven to have a more significant post exercise calorie burn.
Don't believe me? Watch this video from Super Sister Fitness (one of my fave YouTube channels).
If you want to get started weight training for a more toned body make sure to subscribe to my email list. I'm currently building a beginner's guide to weight training and my email list will be the first to know when it's released! You can also find a TON of workouts on Pinterest, or on YouTube. In the future I'll be releasing my list of favorite YouTube workout channels and YouTube personalities (another reason to subscribe to my mailing list, wink wink).
Also... look what happens to your butt when you weight train ( via ZoeLiveLoveLift).
OH you're convinced now ok good.
If you are completely 100% new to weight training I definitely recommend either taking group classes (like BodyPump <3) or meeting with a personal trainer before taking on a new kind of exercise. Good form is so important to prevent injuries. Injuries are the worst, and I don't want that happening to you.