As a college student it seems as though everyone around me is searching for one goal when it comes to fitness – fat loss.
Beginning with the “freshman fifteen”, followed by endless nights of studying and a few “wine Wednesdays” with the girls, weight gain seems to be inevitable. On top of this, many students are starting a whole new chapter in their life.
For you, this may have meant putting an end to the active teenager who spent hours on end dancing, playing soccer, or running in weekly track meets. You have likely never known what it was like to be out of shape until now, and you have no idea what to do about it.
If you are just beginning a weight loss journey, you may have found 2 common strategies that promise to fix your problem—eat less & do more cardio.
You’ll cut your calories, cut your carbs, or maybe even try a liquid only diet for a week or two. You’ll wake up every morning and run on the treadmill for an hour before making yourself a breakfast of five blueberries and a piece of low carb toast and heading to class with a growling stomach. Then on the weekends, you binge on a night of margaritas, queso, and late night pizza only to feel so guilty the next day that you’ll run on the treadmill for two hours and skip your usual breakfast in order to “make up for it.”
The big issue with this mindset is that it develops the idea that exercise is a punishment for bad habits, making one dread the gym when it’s time to work out. This vicious cycle leads to very little results, and a high chance of often binges as a result of so much restriction. This routine is exhausting both mentally and physically, and more importantly, is a very unhealthy way for you to lose weight!
A Healthy Method
Let’s talk about the correct way to approach weight loss. You have probably heard at one point or another that the key to weight loss is to burn more calories than you are consuming. While the statement is true, this is where the endless cardio and extreme nutritional restriction begins to make sense for so many people.
What I bet you don’t know is that lifting weights will help you burn more calories than those hours of cardio, which leaves it to be a much healthier method for a fat loss plan.
Weightlifting for Fat Loss: Building Muscle
Weight training enables you to build up muscle mass, and the more muscle you have on your body the more calories you will be burning every day while at rest. This goes to show why a large amount of men are leaner than women while they are able to eat a larger amount—they have more lean muscle mass on their body so they are constantly burning more calories.
After a training session involving a form of weight lifting, your metabolism can be boosted for up to 38 hours post-workout. This means that while sitting around after a weight lifting session you’re continuing to burn calories for hours! With cardio, you may be burning 300-400 calories a session, but that’s it. You’re burning those calories during the hour of work and then it stops.
Building Your Body
Weight training also allows you to reshape your body as you want it. Cardio may help with fat loss, but so many people do not know that fat loss cannot be targeted! You cannot do 100 crunches a day in hopes of losing that extra belly fat, or endless cycles of squats to lose the stubborn fat on your thighs. No exercise will cause you to lose fat in one specific area.
However, with weight training, you can use muscle gain to shape your body in different ways. For example, many women like to work towards a feminine “hourglass” shape by building up their lats, glutes, and quads. This allows them to achieve this shape without just focusing on losing stomach fat to make their waist smaller!
It’s time to get out of the viscous cycle of starving and cardio for hours on end, and pick up some weights. While cardio can help your fat loss goals, weight training has shown to be much more effective while also giving one the ability to tone and shape their body at the same time. If fat loss is your goal, lifting weights will help you, I guarantee it.
So next time you hit the gym, walk away from the elliptical and head towards those squat racks!