2/10/21
Strength & Fitness

Cardio or Weight Training for Fat Loss and Maintenance


Why do we struggle to lose or maintain weight?

It is very common for people to have high levels of body fat and low levels of lean muscle tissue. The lower your levels of lean muscle, the lower your basal metabolic rate (metabolism) will be. Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) determines how many calories (how much energy) your body needs to maintain function on a daily basis. The lower the number, the less muscle you have, the harder it is for someone to lose or maintain weight loss.

Should we focus on Cardio or Weight Training?

Our number one goal should be to lose weight in a healthy way that we can sustain long term, without regaining the weight back. In order for us to do this, we need to increase our BMR (lean body mass) so our body will burn “more” calories on a daily basis and at rest. To achieve this, we need to increase our lean body mass (muscle) by focusing on strength training. Typically, this means hypertrophy training (3-5 sets of 8-12 reps) to build muscle tissue.

What about Cardio?

While all exercise will help with fat loss, we need to understand that cardio will not increase our lean body mass or BMR. Too much cardio can actually have a negative impact on our BMR because we will continually need to decrease calories, or increase cardio, to remain in a deficit to continue losing weight. Your body can, also, potentially break down muscle tissue and lower your BMR. NOT what we want. If you are under-eating or doing too much “cardio” your body could be burning all of that hard-earned muscle, as fuel.

How can we use cardio effectively?

The most effective way to use cardio for fat loss is to increase your daily activity and step count, also known as TDEE (total daily energy expenditure). Being more active throughout the day, you will increase your daily calories burned but will not negatively affect your BMR, due to the low intensity. This will leave you feeling energized to train hard when you’re in the gym, without breaking down more muscle tissue. 

**We are not saying cardio is “bad”, it does have many benefits when it is done correctly and you are fueled appropriately.**

High Intensity Training, what about that?

High Intensity interval training can be very beneficial when done appropriately. Short bursts of all out movement, spiking your heart rate (80% + of your max HR), with correct recovery periods to bring your heart rate back down. This can aid in fat loss, can increase your cardiovascular endurance, and create an afterburn post exercise (EPOC= excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) leaving your body in an elevated calorie burning state for hours after the workout. 

What about Crossfit?

Crossfit is meant to be a mix of everything we have talked about. The definition of CrossFit is constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity, to increase work capacity across broad time and modal domains. The goal is to increase fitness and the quality of life. When doing this, fat loss is typically a result. It is not an end all be all, but it will aid in fat loss and muscle building.

Other Factors?

Your diet and lifestyle have a huge impact on your fat loss goals. Things like getting enough sleep, managing stress, drinking enough water, eating protein, limiting sugar, and limiting alcohol consumption will all aid in fat loss. 

At Aerial Athletics, it is our goal to help you create habits and lifestyle changes to help you reach your muscle building and fat loss goals. This is why it is important to listen to the coach's cues on slowing down movements, scaling back weight, and pushing intensity to hit a “desired stimulus”. 

Time under tension, or slowing movements down, will help with muscle building and in return create a higher metabolism. Also, sometimes scaling back weight in order to “push the pace” to hit the desired intensity will help you get your heart rate up and increase the calorie burn. We want you to be moving safely and through a full range of motion so that you can continue to move and be active, to maintain your health and your goals.

Ariel Jauss

GM / Head Coach