Weight Training vs. Cardio?

Published Tue, Sep 11, 2012 11:20 AM
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iStockphoto/Jacom Stephens

Submitted by Carrie Riggin — Correspondent

"But I’m going to bulk up" is the gut-check response most trainers get when telling their female clients that the key to a lean, toned body is strength training. Reality check ladies: Your trainer is right.

Science has proven time and time again that women do not have enough testosterone in their bodies to ever create that “body builder” look. Unfortunately, it is this popular myth that poses the biggest challenge for female gym-goers who are trying to shape up for good. Most women believe that hours on the treadmill, as opposed to pumping iron, will deliver their much-dreamed-about Victoria’s Secret-model body. Hate to break it to you, gals, but overdoing cardio, as many do, is like being a hamster on a wheel: It gets you nowhere.

Weight training, plus proper diet, is a much more manageable, stress-free and effective fitness plan to deliver your dream body. And after reading my reasoning below, I guarantee you’ll believe it, too, and pick up the weights the next time you hit the gym.

Five reasons to weight train:

Increased metabolism and decreased body fat: The more lean muscle you have, the more calories and body fat you will burn, even at rest. Research shows that using heavier weights helps build lean muscle tissue, increasing your metabolism for up to 48–72 hours after your training session is complete. You have to love a workout routine that allows you to still burn calories while sleeping!

Reduced abdominal fat and inflammation: It’s a fact that abdominal fat increases by 300 percent between ages 25 and 65, while muscle mass decreases by 20 percent between ages 40 and 60 (Source: “Fitness RX” magazine). It’s also a fact that increased abdominal fat promotes inflammation and hinders blood-sugar regulation. Weight training actually helps to cinch abdominal fat, thus reducing inflammation and controlling blood sugar.

Tightened and toned look: Lifting weights firms and tightens the skin (you’ll even see the difference after one weight-training session) and gives you a lean look from head to toe.

Drop inches: Muscle mass takes up less space than fat. By the end of one month, although the scale might not budge, you’ll still manage to drop inches (maybe even a size or two) and fit into your clothes better. Your body will take on a more-fit look, too, even in your clothes (bingo!).

No more yo-yoing: The less muscle you maintain on your body, the more yo-yoing you’ll do weight-wise (Source: bodybuilding.com).

Couple strength training with balanced meals every three hours, and your body will experience a steady supply of nutrients, along with a boost in metabolism. When frequently nourished with clean eats, the body will start to release stored body fat and use it as fuel, helping to blast fat away.

And FYI: Strength training doesn’t have to include weights. If you are always on the go (like myself) or trying to get fit on a budget (gym-free), never underestimate the power of your bodyweight. Classic push-ups, triceps dips, squats and lunges, among many other moves, can be done anytime, anywhere. These types of exercises will still build strength, boost metabolism, create lean muscle and give you the desired strong, fit physique you are dreaming of.

Remember, when starting a new training routine, allow time for your body to adjust. Always keep in mind that it takes four weeks for you to notice your body transforming, eight weeks for your friends to see it and 12 weeks for the rest of the world to catch on. Be patient and, most importantly, stick with it. You are forming healthy habits that will carry you through the rest of your life. Invest in yourself… it’ll be worth it.

Happy lifting!

Who is Carrie Riggin?
Carrie is the Triangle's go-to health and nutrition guru, sharing the latest trends to help you get in shape. She is a certified group fitness instructor and writes a blog, TheSkinnBuzz.

Twitter: @CarrieRigginFIT and @TheSkinnyBuzz

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