It's time to stop the madness! I've seen so many well-meaning people come in to the gym and make this fatal fat loss mistake. Trudging along at the gym for weeks and months and never seeing the results they're capable of because of it.
What am I talking about? I'm talking about the people who come in to the gym, sweat out 45 minutes of cardio on the elliptical or treadmill, and THEN go screw around with the weights (or even worse, the abdominal crunch machines).
Why is this such a big deal? Well, they are unknowingly short circuiting their fat loss efforts by doing cardio at the forbidden hour that I'm going to share with you right now. Don't make this critical fat loss mistake or you will waste your time at the gym, store more body fat, and damage your metabolism long-term.
Here's 3 reasons that you should NEVER do cardio before lifting weights.
Reason #1 – Your performance during your weight training session will suffer. This is commonsense… but have you noticed that common sense isn't so common these days? I know that several people live and die by their belief that they need to do cardio to burn fat and then lift weights to “tone up”. What if I tell you there is no such thing as “toning up” unless you're a laser printer or a high-priced sound system?
Humans are creatures of habit, and old habits can be hard to break, but I promise you'll get radically better results if you switch things up and do them the way that I'm going to teach you.
You got some bad advice somewhere along the way. Might have been from an old magazine, or maybe from a well-meaning friend or trainer (who was known to wear leg-warmers in the 1980's). Where ever you got the advice from, it's time to ask yourself an important question: “Is it working for me?”
If doing your cardio confessional and then fooling around with the weights afterward is working for you, then more power to you. But more than likely, if you're one of the millions of victims suffering from the terrible condition of results-non-existent, then listen closely because there is a cure.
Muscle is your body's “fat-burning machinery”, so resistance training is the #1 way to lose body fat long-term and improve your metabolism overall. Building muscle via strength training also changes the composition of your body. You can become more aesthetically pleasing by lifting weights (in plain english, you'll look better naked). Versus losing weight by cardio alone, which will essentially take you from an apple shape to a smaller apple shape.
Bottom line, doing a tough cardio session before lifting weights will obviously diminish your ability to give your all during the strength training. You're not going to be leveraging the incredible benefits of lifting weights if you do cardio first, so just stop it, ok?
Reason #2 – You're depleting your glycogen stores inefficiently. Doing cardio will slowly (keyword: SLOWLY) deplete your muscle and liver glycogen stores. This is nice, because if your glycogen stores get too high, they will “spillover” and become body fat and even form dangerous compounds like VLDL that can cause heart disease.
The big understanding to grab here is that intense strength training can achieve the same results in preventing glycogen “spillover” in nearly half the time as doing cardio. Point made, if you've got stuff to do, lifting weights is far more efficient at blocking your body from storing more fat. Plus, referring back to performance in #1, your muscle glycogen is needed to enable your muscles to work at their best during your strength training. By pre-depleteing your muscle glycogen doing tough cardio first, you'll naturally diminish the results you can achieve when you try to lift weights.
Reason #3 – You're increasing your risk of muscle loss. Studies show that up to 70 percent of the weight someone loses when cutting calories is from burning off their valuable lean muscle tissue. That's crazy right?! Since muscle is your body's fat-burning machinery, losing that muscle will set you up for long-term fat gain. This is why people diet, lose weight, then gain the weight back PLUS a little bit more than they started out with.
Another surefire way to lose your valuable muscle is by doing a hefty cardio session and then following it up with weights on top of that. Why? Because that moderate intensity cardio is very catabolic and you'll be secreting stress hormones that will happily covert your muscle tissue into energy if it needs to.
Muscle burns a lot of calories, and if your body is stressed by having the glycogen levels diminished through cardio, it's going to be focused on conserving energy as well as it can. Your body's solution: Burn off the tissue that's using the most energy (aka your valuable lean muscle). When you go to lift weights after doing cardio, you're setting yourself up for potentially losing that muscle you're working so hard to gain.
The best plan of action is to do your cardio at a different time of the day than your weight training session OR on a different day completely.
However, if you've got a busy work week and time is tight for you, stick the cardio at the end of your strength training workout. That will help you to see better results, and avoid the problems that we covered above.
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