Here’s The Cold, Hard Truth about Cardio, Fitness Classes & Resistance Training for Long Term Fat Loss and Maintenance!
When it comes to fat loss, your diet is by far the most important factor over any exercise strategy you use because you just can’t out train a bad diet with no calorie deficit.
Diet aside though, let’s go through the 5 Best Training Tips to shred body fat fast, so that you can get the most of your workouts and spend more time and energy on other things you would prefer to be doing instead.
Here’s what the Science Shows
In one research study, four groups of women were placed on an extreme diet providing only around 800 calories daily.
One group was instructed not to exercise, one to perform cardio exercise only (cycling), the third group did resistance exercise only and the fourth group done a combination of resistance training plus cycling.
Those in the two groups that either didn’t do any exercise or did cardio exercise only, both lost muscle mass and experienced significant reductions in metabolic rate.
However, the women who did resistance training maintained their metabolic rate, muscle mass, and strength levels.
1/ Resistance Training
Resistance training with compound, multi-joint exercises (think squats rather than calve raises) or doing circuit training that alternates between upper and lower-body movements, places a greater demand on energy requirements from your muscles and metabolism.
Increased need for energy by your muscles also creates a greater demand on your aerobic system to replenish that energy during the rest intervals.
In other words, you get both fitter and stronger at the same time with resistance training, where as with cardio, you just get fitter and will improve your cardiovascular fitness, but not get physically stronger.
15% Extra Free Calorie Burning
Everyone loves a bargain and resistance training is great because it also yields a greater EPOC, (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption) which means that your body is still burning calories long after the workout has finished.
Think of EPOC as a caloric after burner, that is caused by exercise (much like a car engine stays warm for a period of time after it has been driven). After exercise, the body must use increased amounts of oxygen to replenish energy supplies, lower tissue temperature, and return the body to a resting state.
This has been shown in research studies to be between 6-15% of the total calories burned during the workout. So a decent 750 calorie burning workout adds up to a nice additional 112.50 calories burned afterwards, for FREE.
The “Ultimate” Time Management
Another great benefit of resistance training, is that if you are getting physically stronger each workout, then you are able to move your bodyweight around easier, which then also improves your stamina, making body weight fitness activities (including cardio) a lot easier.
Now you may be thinking, well if it’s easier then it’s less effort and less energy burned, but as you get both fitter and stronger you are able to do more work, lift more weight, do more difficult exercises and or more repetitions in a shorter (or the same) amount of time.
So where as you could only previously manage 8 push ups in 30 seconds, you are now able to do 12 repetitions (an extra 50%) which is a higher volume workload within the same amount of time.
Plus you can work harder and faster so the intensity is greater.
That’s both more volume at a greater intensity, making you a fat burning machine.
2/ Intensity is Important
One research study analysed 3 groups of people and found that when:
- Aerobic cycling (40 minutes at 80 percent Max HR)
- Circuit training (4 sets, 8 exercises for 15 reps at 50 percent 1-RM)
- Heavy resistance training (3 sets, 8 exercises at 80-90 percent 1-RM to exhaustion) were compared, it was the heavy resistance training group that produced the highest EPOC!
So lower Repetitions May be Better
This is interesting stuff because it was well believed for quite some time that higher repetitions were recommended for fat loss, but this study showed that the lower repetitions were more metabolic.
So combining heavier weights at a higher intensity, with super setting (alternating two exercises back to back) upper and lower body, compound exercises, should burn more energy than lighter weights with higher repetitions.
Plus, heavier weights may help maintain your muscle better than lighter weights when dieting.
Plus, the metabolic effect during the research study, was even with performing 1 set less per exercise (3 sets instead of 4) which is 8 sets less in total throughout the whole workout!
Training to exhaustion can be challenging, so you will need to build up to this kind of intensity and sometimes higher repetitions may be more suitable to shape certain areas of your body, which is dependant on your body type and physical goals.
At Phoenix Gym, we provide a Free (60 minute) Personal Training Session for all our new members to help design you a personalised programme for your goals.
Get Adequate Rest
If you are following the above protocols, then we recommend that you allow at least 48 hours of recovery time between high-intensity exercise sessions and try to limit yourself to no more than three or four strenuous workouts per week, to avoid overuse injuries.
For most people, two to three times per week is sufficient for incorporating resistance training for fat loss.
Think of it like this, if you are new to resistance training then one session is better than none, two is better than one, three is great and four is fantastic.
An Added Bonus!
These kinds of intense resistance training sessions force your body to release a highly potent cocktail of feel good, fat burning hormones like serotonin, dopamine, testosterone, epinephrine (adrenaline), norepinephrine (noradrenaline), cortisol and aldosterone. Happy days, literally…
Resistance training also improves insulin sensitivity, lowers blood pressure, prevents osteoporosis and conditions like dementia.
Our bodies are clearly designed to positively perform strenuous exercise on a regular basis, but unfortunately it seems we have become lazy driving cars and sitting down for hours on end.
3/ Cardio for Fat Loss
There are two main types of conventional cardio for general exercise.
The first is “High Intensity Interval Training” (HIIT) and the second is “Low Intensity Steady State” (LISS)
HIIT workouts appear to be superior compared to slower, steady-state cardio for stimulating EPOC (LaForgia, Withers and Gore, 2006).
Research from Australia supports the notion that training with intervals just three times per week, results in significant fat loss. (Trapp et al., 2008).
For this study, two groups of women trained three times per week for 15 weeks.
One group performed 20 minutes of high-Intensity Interval Training, while the other group performed 40 minutes of steady-state cardio (LISS).
Only the Interval Training Group had a Significant Reduction in Fat Stores!
This is why Phoenix has invested over £420K, in making sure that we have Norwich’s largest range of resistance and functional/HIIT training equipment in Norwich.
HIIT effects on Muscle and Metabolism
HIIT such as sprints on a treadmill or a stationary bike, is effective at burning calories both during exercise and afterwards through EPOC consumption and unlike LISS, it recruits type-2 muscle fibres over type-1’s, meaning it guards against muscle loss also.
With the right work-to-rest ratio, HIIT can even build muscle. Smith-Ryan’s research, published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport found that, over the course of a three-week training program, people who exercised at a 1:1 ratio gained significantly more muscle than those performing 2:1 intervals.
In other words, for every second you spend sprinting, spend that much time resting before your next bout eg… 20 seconds on and 20 seconds off for X amount of intervals.
You can then built the amount of intervals up over time but may need to start with double the rest time to start with eg work for 20 seconds and rest for 40.
LISS (Low-Intensity-Steady-State Cardio)
In one research study, they found that participants who performed six days per week of steady state cardio for one year, resulted in an average loss of only 6 pounds (2.7 kg) of weight, for both men and women (McTiernan et al, 2008).
Subjects aged 40 to 75 were instructed to do 60 minutes of aerobic exercise per day, for 6 days per week, for an entire year.
You would think that with such a high volume of aerobic exercise, the subjects would have lost twenty or thirty pounds.
Instead, weight loss was a disappointing 6 pounds (2.7 kg) for men and less than 5 pounds (2.2 kg) for women. That’s over 50 hours of exercise per pound (.45 kg) lost. Nasty!
LISS cardio doesn’t burn as many calories than either circuit or resistance training because it’s easier on the muscles and anaerobic systems.
It also doesn’t produce much EPOC after burn and does not produce the same kinds of hormonal and health benefits either.
LISS is Not All Bad Though
If you combine a calorie controlled diet with LISS, then yes this will increase the calorie deficit and help you lose body fat quicker BUT because LISS doesn’t stimulate your muscles in the same way as resistance training or HIIT, it doesn’t prevent muscle wastage, metabolic slowdown or burn extra calories after your workout is finished.
Research studies do show that LISS cardio does produce greater cardio and health benefits compared to inactivity or basic daily movement though, so it’s way better than not doing anything at all.
For weight loss though, LISS does have it’s place if you strategically combine it with resistance training.
This means that you don’t have to give up your Zumba class, jogging or other activities that you enjoy. After all enjoyment and feel good hormones are also training goals and benefits of doing LISS.
4/ Resistance Training and Cardio Combined
Not surprisingly, the research group mentioned earlier that done a combination of both resistance training plus cycling, lost by far the most amount of body fat so if you want faster results then this may be a good choice for you.
When you combine both weights and cardio then you will not only speed up your results, but also build a strong foundation and metabolism to maintain your new shape, health and vitality. Plus feel unstoppable…
Resistance training should be at the foundation of your fat loss strategy and you can tailor the sets, reps and rest times around your body type, strengths, weaknesses and goals.
Resistance Training First, Cardio Second…
Cardio is best performed at the end of a resistance training workout (other than a brief warm up for no more than 10 mins) because you will then get the higher intensity benefits.
This is because you have pre fatigued your body whilst your energy is at it’s highest, depleted your muscles glycogen stores (carbohydrate energy in your muscles) and lowered any excess insulin in your blood stream, making sure that your hormones are firing on all cylinders in a primed fat burning state.
In other words lift the weights when you feel strongest at the start, then finish with relatively easier cardio afterwards.
You will get a higher calorie burn whilst doing your cardio afterwards, plus greater muscles and metabolism stimulation!
You have then put your main energy into building your metabolism, stimulating a strong EPOC and producing that potent cocktail of feel good and fat burning hormones and fat is swimming around in your bloodstream, ready to be burned off.
A Standard Workout System
Typically a 30-45 minute weight training session, followed by a 10-20 minute cardio session is widely used and recommended for fat loss and Time/Weight management.
You will then burn way more energy, both during and after your workouts and because your body will still be recovering over the next 24-48 hours, any LISS cardio you do during that time in between will then also burn more energy due to your tired muscles, requiring more energy to move. Another cumulative Win!
Here are The 5 Most Common Resistance/Cardio Combo’s
- Resistance first then LISS or HIIT afterwards
- Resistance combined with HIIT during the same session
- Resistance combined with HIIT and then LISS afterwards (advanced)
- Resistance alone with LISS on days in-between
- Resistance combined with HIIT and then LISS on days in between (Advanced)
- Resistance combined with HIIT and then LISS afterwards plus on days in between. (Super advanced)
5/ Select Your Exercises Wisely
The best exercises for you to do during your resistance workouts will be dependant on your body type and shape, goals, your level of motivation, muscle to fat ratio, preferences, how many times per week you are training and how long you have available for each workout.
For beginners, you will likely want to start off with simple, full body resistance workouts, working both your upper and lower body with core, mobility and possibly cardio exercises added in.
If you need to build some muscle, (“toning” is basically “building” by the way, but sounds less scary to women) then you may progress onto split routines, such as upper body/lower body or a push/pull/legs routine, for example.
Exercise selection will also depend on how fit and mobile you currently are to avoid injuries.
If you have difficulty doing a bodyweight squat, balance performing a lunge, have trouble touching your toes or lifting your arms above your head, then you will likely need to start off with easier exercises to begin with.
As you build your strength and mobility, you will improve your balance, coordination, mobility, full body strength and confidence.
You will also be gradually improving your metabolism further, which will help in maintaining your new body.
Our personal trainers, can not only help you understand the best exercises for your body type and current level of ability, but also make sure you are always moving forwards and never get bored.
BONUS TIP: Enjoy Yourself! 😀
Just because certain fitness classes and LISS cardio are not as beneficial as resistance or HIIT training for fat loss, it doesn’t mean that you should never do them!
Balance the resistance training that you need to do, with other exercise that you enjoy doing, because if running on a treadmill or doing your regular funky exercise classes are not getting you results, then you will feel miserable in other ways, so you must get the balance right.
So do the fun things you enjoy, just don’t make these fun activities the foundation of your fat loss strategy, if long term fat loss is your goal.
Once you achieve your goals, then you can focus more on the fun activities, whilst maintaining your new shape.
Exercise Classes for Fat Loss and “Toning”
Circuit training style classes usually use lighter to moderate weights, so these will help burn lot’s of calories, prevent muscle loss, boost EPOC and help “tone up” a bit, but if you want to really “tone up” then classic classes and circuits won’t cut it.
To tone/build muscle and fill out any baggy skin areas, you will need to lift heavier weights and do more sets on these areas to actually build muscle.
This ideally needs to be done within a gym environment so that you can really target the problem area’s but a creative personal trainer may help you design a programme for home if you have the right equipment available.
A lot of people who understand this will combine fun classes that they enjoy, with weights sessions within the gym, to sculpt any specific area.
This way you get the best of both. Try these combinations:
- Resistance in the gym followed by a cardio class eg (spinning)
- A resistance class (circuit or heavier weights) followed by a HIIT cardio class (spinning for example)
- A resistance class, or gym workout, combined with HIIT and then LISS afterwards
- Resistance combined with HIIT (in gym or classes) then LISS or Mobility on days in between (jogging, cycling, yoga or pilates etc…)
So What Now?
Phoenix Gym has the largest range of resistance and functional training equipment in Norwich, to prevent boredom, provide equipment for all ages and physical abilities, as well as avoid long queuing times.
This means you can get in, get done and get out again quickly, in a motivational, supportive environment.
All new members receive one FREE personal training session to design a personalised programme and all memberships provide free guest passes for you to train with a “plus one”.
Phoenix also has Norwich’s most experienced team of Personal Trainers to help you not only get started, but most importantly progress your exercise programmes, help with tailored dietary advice and provide feedback on your FIT3D scan results.
Book Yourself a Personal Gym Tour
If you would like to book a free consultation with one of our experienced personal trainers then you can find their profile information here.
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