If you do cardio one day and the next day you can do weights, do it that way. If you need to do it at night or in the morning, do it that way. Whatever you need to get it done, just get it done.
–LL Cool J
The Size Zero Myth:
#Myth 1- Cardio is the best for weight loss.
If I run more and do more of cardio, I will be burning more calories and hence will lose more weight. Definitely cardio is the only workout which I need.
#Myth 2- Strength training will make me masculine.
I don’t require building muscles. I don’t want to look like a bodybuilder.
The Wise Hero Reality:
1. What is cardio?
Cardio is the most recommended exercise by dieticians, physicians, cardiologists, etc. It is also called Aerobic, which follows the aerobic pathway, and by that, it means that muscles get to use oxygen. These are the tasks that are not high in intensity but high in volume.
2. What is strength training?
Strength training is the most misunderstood workout. It is also called Anaerobic, which follows the anaerobic pathway, by that it means that the muscles function in the absence of oxygen. It doesn’t mean there is no oxygen available; it only means that task was completed so fast, oxygen couldn’t reach the working muscle group. Since they last for short period of time, obviously they can carry out really high-intensity tasks.
3. Cardio & Strength training for heart health.
Let’s see the effect of exercise on the heart. The heart can be roughly divided into four chambers, each performs a unique task. The upper two chambers are called auricles & lower chambers are called ventricles. The lower left ventricle pumps oxygenated blood to the body.
With cardio or aerobic workout, the left ventricle will go through an increase in size and become bigger than what it was. But it is with anaerobic (strength) training that the left ventricle will also develop a thicker wall, with a larger & more efficient capillary network, leading to an increase in strength as well.
So only cardio & no strength training is a half-hearted attempt to improve heart health.
4. Growing Muscle is different from Body Building.
The idea of going to the gym is to bulk up, it’s called the growth of the muscles (increases lean body weight). Nobody looks like a bodybuilder just because they did weight training. Even people, who want to build body and work hard to do so, fail most of the time. Cardio doesn’t help in increasing lean body weight.
5. Fuel needed to exercise
The aerobic workout uses carbohydrate, fat & protein as fuel to derive energy. Carbs are the starting source of fuel as they need fewer oxygen molecule for oxidation. In presence of oxygen, glycogen (carb) is broken into intermediate pyruvic acid and after a series of reactions to carbon dioxide, water & energy (more energy is produced than anaerobic). So aerobically there are lesser by-products than anaerobic. Fat takes over later. Aerobically, when fat is broken down it produces more energy as compared to carbs. Protein is used as fuel in extreme conditions. Its main purpose is in building & repairing body tissues.
The anaerobic workout uses carbs in the form of glycogen stored in muscle & liver as fuel. In absence of oxygen, glycogen is broken down into an intermediate product called pyruvic and then to lactic acid & energy (lesser than aerobic). Anaerobically fat cannot be used as a fuel.
So during the workout, we burn more fat during cardio & no fat during strength training. You must be thinking, why do I insist on strength training then? Why am I trying to sell it? Well keep reading and you will know why & trust me you will definitely buy it.
Lactic acid leads to the sweet pain we experience after strength training, to remove it from muscle, light aerobic activity like walk or jog needs to be done.
6. Cardio & Fat Burn.
Calories burned is directly proportional to oxygen consumed. During cardio, oxygen consumption increases hence calories are burned. But aerobic activity hardly needs any extra oxygen post workout. So there is no afterburn advantage.
After Burn: It is when the body, at rest burns more calories at higher rate post exercise as compared to what it would normally have.
7. Weight training makes your body a better fat burning machine.
During weight training, oxygen consumption is less, therefore, less calorie is burned. Now you must be thinking why should you weight train if you are not burning calories as much as cardio. The answer to that question is ‘The afterburn’. Post-exercise a lot of oxygen is required for the following activities:
- Restore the body to its resting state (breathing, digestion, circulation, etc).
- Recovering & repairing from tissue damage
- Removing lactic acid accumulation from the muscle.
- Restoring glycogen stores
- Bringing body temperature back to normal, etc.
This is called Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption or After Burn. Your body will burn more calories (which means more fat) for as long as 24 to 48 hrs post exercise.
8. Your body is intelligent.
When you train anaerobically regularly, your body understands that it needs to reserve the glycogen store as you cannot access any other fuel training in that zone. Hence when you train aerobically, your body will use less of glycogen and more of fat so that glycogen can be conserved for strength training. This is called ‘Glycogen Sparing’. This way when you train both ways, during cardio you will burn more fat as compared to when your workout schedule only consist of cardio. Your body understands your energy needs & modifies its consumption.
- Make sure you do minimum 150 minutes workout in a week
- It needs to be a wholesome workout, training both aerobic & anaerobic ways.
- Plan aerobic workout after anaerobic to utilize the lactic acid as a fuel so that they get used up & quickly removed from muscle leading to better recovery from an anaerobic workout.
- Ladies, lifting weights won’t make you big and bulky, it will actually enhance your feminine curves. Train like a beast, look like a beauty.
- Train Smart, not hard.
I always believed, the more I run or jump, the leaner I will become. But my weight was stuck & I got desperate at the same time disappointed. When I started strength training, I could see the difference in my body. I did not have to train for more than an hour in the gym daily. Still, I constantly lost weight and felt good about myself.
BE SMART -Train both ways. Cardio and Strength training when scheduled properly, will work together to help you reach your fitness goals.
Cardio = Skinny
Cardio + Strength = FIT
Forget skinny, train to be FIT.
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Meet the Author
Pooja Mitra also liked to be called as 'The Wise Hero' is an Electronics & Communication Engineer by education and a Blogger by passion. Pooja is a spiritual soul, travel enthusiast and a health fanatic who shares her journey through her blog From Size Zero to Wise Hero. She is also the owner of and blog consultant at The Blogipedia. When not in front of a backlit device, she dabbles in music and art.Learn more
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