Friday, September 27, 2013

Which is best? Cardio, HIIT, or Strength Training....

This  was my total calorie burn in 1 hour and 7 minutes of lifting.  

I still LOVE cardio too but I like to keep it short and sweet.  Cardio is good for your health and doing a reasonable amount is great for staying lean.  You need to lift to build those lean muscles and then you have to feed the muscle with food and then you burn the fat with cardio! Got it?!  

CARDIO: is the most basic thing you can do when it comes to burning calories.  It doesn't require weights, or knowledge of exercises.  Just a pair of running shoes and your legs.  It's tough to mess up on a open road, treadmill or elliptical.  Go about 3 miles and burn around 300 calories give or take.  Then all you do is eat less calories than you burn in a day and you will lose weight.  EASY right?!  Cardio is great for keeping your heart in shape but it doesn't train your heart for extreme stress when we experience rapid changes.  Steady cardio only burns calories while you are moving.  Not much happens afterwards.  

HIIT: High Intensity Interval Training- this style of cardio blows steady cardio out of the water.  Why?  When you do HIIT your body and metabolism function at a higher rate of burned calories for hours and hours after you stop.  Meaning I just did HIIT this morning and I am burning calories while I am sitting on my butt typing.  How? during HIIT you are forcing your heart to adjust to the changes of your speed, incline, level, etc.  You are making your heart work outside of its norm.  All this changing and sprinting causes your metabolism to work in high gear for hours after you finish your workout.  The other great bonus of HIIT is that you can lose up to 3x the amount of fat in half of the exercise time.  20-30 mins is all it takes!  Great when you are short on time.

STRENGTH TRAINING: If you are wanting to do more than just lose weight and really want to get in shape, cardio and HIIT alone are not the best ways to shape your body.  We all want to have that "toned" or "defined" look.  Not the soft look= AKA, skinny fat.  Cardio does help with weight loss but not nearly as much as you think! Combine cardio and weight training and now we are talking.  The best kind of exercises to burn the most calories are moves that use the largest number of muscles; SQUATS, LUNGES, DEADLIFTS, etc. I love doing these exercises in a circuit with little to no rest between them.  I get a killer workout, sore muscles, and I know I am burning calories fast and the calorie burn doesn't end when my workout is over either.  I am still burning calories 2 days later from that workout!!!

Cardio is for you if you have all the time in the world or if you just really love running/treadmill or elliptical.  If you have spent months doing steady cardio, try varying the speeds every once in a while.

HIIT is for you if you don't like lifting weights but you still want to burn calories as quickly as possible.  You are limited on time every day.  And you like pushing your body to its limits.  If you do HIIT correctly, you should be worn right out to the point that 20-30 mins is literally all your body can handle.

Strength Training is for you if you want to "tone."  and let me just get this off my chest, I HATE the word "tone"!!  Its called MUSCLE!! so just put on your big girl underwear and say, "I want to get some muscle!" You get a "toned" look by building muscle.  I promise no one is going think you instantly turned man because you said muscle instead of tone.  You can not "tone" a muscle.  You either put the muscle to work and let it get bigger so it is visible or you avoid working your muscle and it will get smaller and have nothing to show. Weight training is for you if you like burning calories while sitting on your butt pinning!  And if you are afraid of lifting weights, give it a shot 2-3 times a week and just see if those stubborn areas get smaller or if the weight starts coming off quicker.  Do cardio on your off days to knock off a few more pounds.  And guess what?!?  Your weight might actually go up.....muscle is more dense than fat.  Muscle takes up less space in the body.  The more muscle you have on your frame, the heavier your weight will be, BUT the tighter, smaller, and less jiggly (think= bra bulge, lower belly, butt....) your physique will be compared to someone who might weigh less but also has less muscle and a higher body fat %.

With all that being said.....If you eat poorly, none of the above matters.  If you are interested in getting in shape, the MOST important thing you can do for yourself is adjusting your diet.  Diet is responsible for 80-90% of your successes or failures ( I am not perfect!  I am preaching this to myself as well.  Damn Yogurtland, Cheddar Jalapeño Cheetos, and Slurp!)  Even if you spend 5-10 hours a week exercising, that still leaves over 150+ hours for you to mess things up.  AHHHHHHHHH!  If all you are about is losing weight, the FASTEST path to achieving that is with a freaking kick-ass diet.  A diet eating real foods: veggies, fruits, complex carbs, and lean meats.

Seriously though, all the above is just the personal trainer in me speaking (I have studied a lot on this stuff) and really it honestly comes down to I just want you to be happy and healthy.  It's up to you to find a great combination of cardio and weight training that keeps you motivated and keeps the weight off.  There is no wrong or right way to get in shape.  But I will say with complete confidence, that if you want firmer, tighter, rounder, less jiggly anything, it requires building muscle.  Find what works for you and be consistent.  If what you are doing isn't working, take some advice from this post and see what kind of results you get. 

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