As someone who mainly used cardio to lose weight for a long time, I found myself lacking in the strength department, and thus decided to add more lifting into the mix.
Through my experiences, I learned some valuable things I want to share with you today.
The biggest question someone who is considering lifting may be asking is if it really helps you drop the pounds, and quickly. The answer is actually not that simple and here’s why:
The weight loss “paradox” of weight lifting:
On one hand, this kind of training helps your body burn more fat. How?
Well your muscles grow when you do various exercises of this nature. It only makes sense since the body has to adjust to the workout you’re doing to make it possible to do it in the first place.
Muscle growth is “fed” by either the food that you eat prior and/or after a workout OR if you don’t eat before a workout, it will burn the fat in your body to compensate that. In this matter, you are actually getting rid of excess fat through these exercises so the answer here is YES, you will lose weight.
However, there is an opposite side of this in that these exercises, which cause muscle growth actually also causes weight gain to happen, due to the same muscles growing and thus weighing more than fat.
So in short, on one hand, you’re burning fat which is great, but on the other, you’re gaining muscle.
But is that such a bad thing? It depends…
Everything has a limit. If through lifting exercises, you wish to get jacked like Arnold Schwarzenegger, then I suppose this can be good for you, but speaking for myself and a bunch of other people who do these types of exercises, most of us don’t want that, we just want to burn away our fat and look great.
So the question then becomes, how should we structure our lifting regiment to find that right balance of losing weight and not looking TOO jacked? There’s a couple of answers to this:
1) Don’t over lift.
While you should absolutely start with small weights and work your way up in whatever strength exercises you’re doing, you shouldn’t go beyond your body’s natural limit. My personal position on this is that you should reach a certain point in your regiment where you stay at a certain level and maintain it without going further.
This will make sure your muscles don’t grow beyond their natural limit (everyone has this) and that you’ll keep burning away any fat you pile up from bad eating.
2) Make sure to supplement the workout with proper foods before and after.
If you have a lot of fat to lose, you may want to consider having a VERY small meal that will leave you hungry, because during your workout, the body will burn away the excess fat anyway to supply the muscle growth. It won’t feel too good, but one way around this is to eat something with carbs and then workout about an hour after. This will keep you in a fed state and not feeling hungry until the workout is done.
Then post workout, eat anything that has large quantities of protein in it (this aids in muscle recovery). I don’t like supplements or powders for that matter, so my go to thing post workout is something healthy like salmon, eggs, walnuts, all of which contain high amounts of protein. Don’t overeat though.
3) Consider doing calisthenic exercises.
In my personal opinion, nothing beats calisthenic exercises, that is if you’re aiming to look your best in a natural state and drop a lot of pounds in the process. They help your muscles grow, you can supplement them with cardio workouts, skip lifting and still lose a lot.
Besides that, as I said before, everyone has a natural limit to how much they can do with their body and in all of the exercises I’ve experimented with, calisthenics tend to be the ones which maximize your body’s potential, without having it go over any limits it shouldn’t take.
Calisthenics involve doing strength workouts where your body is the maximum weight you’re lifting and you’re going to find that this is more than enough to challenge you, especially at first. Try doing pull ups, chin ups, push ups, burpees and other exercise which define calisthenic workouts and you’re going to see some remarkable things happening to your body:
First, you’re going to be losing fat, a lot of it in fact because of the increase in cardio, and the effort of your body to manage the exercises. Muscle growth is going to be happening, but the muscle growth will be represented by more dense muscle mass, which is actually less bulky and much better looking.
And second, you won’t go overboard with it as you’ll know when you’re doing too much. You really can’t over do it on calisthenics in terms of lifting, because in the end, you are the maximum weight potential and your body is built to withstand that.
Now obviously, you have to practice proper form with each calisthenic exercise you do to maximize results and decrease injury possibilities, but I am telling you, these are the best types of strength training workouts you should aim for.
But again, if you’re looking to get jacked like the Hulk, that is another story.
Don’t let the scale trick you…
Despite weight increasing through strength workouts, it does not mean you’re going to look super bulky or thick.
Let’s say you are 220 pounds and you should naturally be around 190. That’s 30 pounds of fat you need to drop.
There’s a few options to do this:
First, you can go on starvation diets, burn away that fat and look like very skinny. Cardio workouts would also help speed this up, but again, you will look pretty skinny afterwards.
You can lift seriously, eat well, drop those 30 pounds of fat but in doing so, you’ll probably gain 20 pounds in muscle growth. So now you’re walking around at 210. But you’ll look a lot better.
Then there’s calisthenics. You can drop 30 pounds doing them and via eating right, but only gain about 10 pounds in muscle mass and look like a beach model.
That’s why I love the last option most of all, because in my opinion, it helps bring out the natural potential of how you should look in an ideal shape and its why my personal preference is that.
Fat burning diets help a lot in this regard…
One major thing I have learned and this is something MOST good personal trainers will admit is that if you’re trying to lose fat (doesn’t matter which area) and you’re relying on exercise to do it, don’t. Rely on the DIET.
Here is a great diet recommendation I would advise for this. It teaches you how to burn fat through proper eating that raises metabolism. If you add this type of dieting into your workouts, the results will be greatly enhanced.