If you’re starting a new fitness regime, nothing spurs you on like seeing weight loss results fast. There are loads of classes and regimes on offer, but if you’re just keeping it simple and hitting the gym, what’s the best exercise technique? Should you be pumping iron or spending your whole time on the treadmill?
The unanimous decision, from all three of our experts, is that it takes a combination of both cardio and weights to make up an effective weight loss programme. Both techniques are beneficial for your fitness in different ways and you can’t rely solely on one to help you shift the pounds quickly. Here’s why…
Cardio for fitness
“Cardio is great to begin with but you’ll plateau very quickly and long bouts of cardio increase your cortisol levels, which inhibit fat loss round the waist, even though your fitness will improve,” says Kelly Du Buisson, creator of The City Workout. “Weights will not improve fitness, but your metabolism will increase so you’ll burn more calories at rest.”
Georgina Burnett, health coach and presenter, agrees, “Cardio is important fitness to have and helps to burn calories on the day, however, if you have more muscle tone from having worked with weights, your metabolism will generally be higher so it should be easier for you to lose or maintain a healthy weight.”
Weights for fat burn
Weights can be introduced into your fitness regime once you have been working on cardio for a short time, says Kelly. She recommends using weights heavy enough to reach 30 reps as this will create heat in the muscle and burn calories. “Muscle is heavier than fat so weight may not change, but body shape and fat levels will change dramatically. This is why HIT training is so great, as it combines both fat loss and muscle building,” says Kelly.
Personal trainer and fat loss expert Jamie Houghton says cardio versus weights is the biggest debate he has with his clients, and many of them are worried that if they use weights they will instantly bulk up and end up looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger, but this isn’t the case. “A typical weight loss programme I provide will focus around weight training,” says Jamie. “For example three sessions weekly of 60 minutes would include 40 minutes of weights and then 20 minutes of cardio.” This combination is designed to be the optimum ratio to achieve fitness and weight loss.
Jamie emphasises that if you are planning to use weights in your fitness regime then expert tuition is paramount to using them effectively and avoiding injury.