I’VE HEARD WEIGHTS AND CARDIO DON’T MIX. WHY IS THAT?
Plenty of folks trying to lose fat start by mixing weights and cardio. They do a great strength training session and then they jump on the treadmill for a slow and steady, couple mile jog for an extra bonus. But this isn’t helping your weight loss. And it actually could be stopping your progress.
Now let’s be clear from the get go – cardio IS good for your fat loss, just not the slow and steady kind. But when most people think “cardio,” they picture a few miles on the treadmill or 30 minutes on the elliptical. So in this answer, when I say “cardio,” I’m referring to those long or slow bouts of cardio, not the high intensity sprints.
And when it comes to losing fat, research shows that anaerobic training, like weight training and short, intense sprints, do far more for your fat loss than any long distance aerobic training could.
If you’re just starting out a training program, then you might see some weight or fat loss at the beginning with long bouts of cardio. Because if that slow and steady cardio is a new challenge for your body, you’re going to see some quick (and short lived) results just by pushing your body in a new way.
But for any long-term fat loss goals, aerobic training ends up being pretty useless for burning fat. Yes, you may improve your cardio performance, but you actually slow down your metabolism and deteriorate your muscles. Your body learns to be efficient to last you for 5 or 10 or 20 miles. But efficient means a slow metabolism and energy conservation – that means keeping your body the same rather than changing it.
Doing smart, systematized anaerobic training helps you build muscle and raise your metabolism, ultimately leading to shedding fat. When you strength train your muscles, you get the benefits of that workout long after you leave the gym. That means you can transform your body in less time and with better results than the long distance cardio.
But back to your question. Running a few miles after you strength train means you’re combining the anaerobic with the aerobic. Mixing weights and cardio. Your strength training session turns your muscle building pathways on to give you the lasting perks of a high functioning metabolism. But as soon as you jump on that treadmill for your aerobic component, you turn those pathways off. You shut down your metabolism so your body can start saving energy rather than burning it. It goes into conservation mode rather than fat burn mode. Those few miles could erase all the work you just put in strength training. And you certainly won’t feel any lasting benefits from your training. If fat loss is your goal, then the anaerobic training is what’s going to get you results.
And if you just love running and want to do some extra bonus work at the end of your training, add short interval or incline sprints for an extra boost. You still get the running perks without the slow-and-steady downfall.
Got a question? Just shoot us an email or leave a comment and let us know!