Nutrition, Resistance Training (aka weight training), and Cardio are like a 3-legged stool. They are all important in reaching your goals and you cannot have the stool with only 1, or even 2 of the legs.
We’ve all heard the saying, “You can't out-train a bad diet”, and for the majority of the population, this is true. Nutrition is THE most important leg of this stool, especially for beginners. This may be a personal opinion, but I bet you’d find some good research to back it up, here is the order of importance on these 3 legs of the stool:
#1 - Nutrition
Training is simply in vain if you do not have a proper diet to go with it. With beginners, you are even MORE likely to see larger progress with nutrition change than with a training program change.
#2 - Resistance Training
- Problem #1 - You may be eating too much. The “bulky” look that all females are afraid to get from weight training. It doesn’t actually come from the weight training, it comes from eating too much. You need to eat just the right amount to develop and maintain muscle, but not develop any additional fat. This is why nutrition is so important.
- Problem #2 - You’re eating too little. Muscle tissue NEEDS calories to grow and maintain. It is also more active than fat tissue. So the more you have, the faster your metabolism is. Muscle tissue actually burns calories at rest to maintain itself. So you WANT muscle, and muscle needs calories, but the right amount.
- Problem #3 - You aren’t eating the right types of foods. The types of foods you are eating can be just as important as the amount of foods you are eating. High-sugar, chemically-ridden foods can cause inflammation in the body and lots of bloating (aka feeling and looking puffy). Eat a diet of whole, unprocessed foods and reap the rewards!
Weight training, or any type of resistance training is the #1 way to train to get leaner. You simply do not build muscle doing only cardio. Cardio can actually have a NEGATIVE effect on building muscle (see below about cardio).
For our muscles to grow and develop, we must challenge them. That means lifting weights that feel challenging, and doing sets of reps that almost get to failure! When we push our muscles to their limits, they will need to burn more calories to repair them and rebuild them stronger. Meaning we are growing and maintaining our current muscle at the same time as we are burning fat to restore them. A double win in my book!
So next time you want to grab the “light” pair of dumbbells, consider pushing yourself today, and tomorrow…
#3 - Cardio
The “holy grail” that we all hold so dear to our hearts. Cardio definitely has its place in burning fat, and it can make us feel great at the end of the workout, but sadly the majority of common gym-goers WAY overdo the cardio.
Cardio helps to get your heart-rate up which can help to burn additional calories, but keep it in small doses. Remember above how we talked about how cardio can have a negative effect on muscle growth?
We’ll give you an example…
You know all those girls at the gym that sit on the treadmill for 45 minutes every day and look the same? That’s because excessive cardio (aka 45+ minutes of steady state) becomes catabolic to your body. It will start to eat your muscle for fuel instead of food recently eaten or fat stores.
So next time you finish up your workout and think, “Let’s get some tacos, we deserve it”, think about the gains your hoping for and the goals you’re working towards. All 3 are important and it can’t work without any of them!