Two exercise misconceptions are, 1) all you need to do to burn fat and lose weight is cardio, and 2) if you use weights you’re going to get bulky. I refer to these as misconceptions instead of as myths because they aren’t completely true or false.
Yes, you need to do cardio in order to help burn up fat; however, if all you’re doing is cardio, you’re not working out efficiently, and neither the mirror or the scale is going to show you what you hope to see.
Yes, if you do the same movement all the time, specific areas can grow bulkier than others; but, you would have to do A LOT of the same thing – which I don’t suggest anyway, and you would need to possess a lot of testosterone. So, ladies, you can stop worrying about becoming manly, because you’re missing the necessary hormone balance.
Your body needs iron, and I’m not talking about taking a supplement.
A few quick facts to get you pumped for pumping iron:
- The more muscle you have on your body, the more calories you burn while doing absolutely nothing. Muscle and metabolism go hand in hand.
- Muscle is denser and takes up less room than fat. So, the scale might not change, but you’ll need smaller sizes in your clothes.
- Skin lies much more nicely over muscle than over fat.
- Your body remains a furnace for up to 72 hours after a good strength training session.
- Your skeletal system responds to resistance training by building itself up to be stronger. (Final score: Body:1, Osteoporosis: 0)
Even though you can burn more calories during the period you are actually doing cardio, the continued afterburn from a weighted workout more than makes up for the initial difference.
So, why not make every workout a weighted one? Your muscles need time to recover. You can break your body into sections if you want to use weights more than every other day (i.e. Monday-legs, Tuesday-arms, Wednesday-core…), but cardio IS important too, so my recommendation is to mix it up with some of both by alternating days.
How much weight should I use if I just want to tone up? My advice is to use what you can, and change it up frequently. Do some sets of 12-15 reps with lighter weight; some where you can only manage 4-8 reps with heavier weight; and other exercises with only your own body as resistance.
Trust me, I spent many years sweating all over cardio equipment for hours at a time in fear of getting bulky. In all honesty, the only time I’ve ever been bulky was when I rowed, and that was because I did the same movement over and over, which caused my body to shift fat to the areas of muscle it thought needed a fast fuel source the most. (This was compounded by the fact that my meal plan at the time included a buffet with an endless supply of ice cream, not to mention late night pizzas and keg parties.)
Now, after lessons learned through experience and education, I can tell you that the best way to get the body you want is to get over the fear of getting bulky, and go try to show up some of the guys in the weight room at the gym. When you notice them looking at you, don’t get self-conscious. They’re checking you out because a girl in the weight room is hot, and you probably look like a bad ass. They’re much more likely to make fun of the prima donna on the elliptical trying desperately not to break a sweat or mess up her makeup.