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Combining Cardio / Strength Training For Weight Loss

Using strength training for weight loss is a great idea. Strength training can lead to fat loss, increase metabolism and increase muscle mass. On top of a healthy diet, the best way to achieve weight loss is through using a program that consists of both strength and cardio training. Because the body responds to overload and adapts to imposed demand, to achieve a specific goal, an exerciser must follow particular guidelines.   

Essential Vocabulary

  • Repetition: A repetition is one full movement. In a "push" or "press" exercise, a repetition consists of lifting a weight, pausing and lowering a weight. In a "pull" exercise, one repetition is pulling the weight, pausing, and then returning the weight to its resting point.   
  • Set: A collection of repetitions
  • Maximum Heart Rate:  To get an accurate estimate, but not perfect calculation, of maximum heart rate subtract age from 220. 
  • Heart Rate Zones: A low heart rate zone is around 50% - 65%of maximum heart rate. A medium rate rate zone is around 65% -75% of maximum heart rate. A high heart rate zone is around 80%-85% of maximum heart rate. 

Is Strength Training for Everyone?

Unless a person has diagnosed injuries, sicknesses or other limiting issues, strength training is a wonderful tool. Women are sometimes afraid that strength training will to lead to big, bulky muscles and an unfeminine shape. In reality, the contrary is true. Through combining proper cardio and strength training techniques, women can tone their muscles and increase definition.     

Is Strength Training Enough by Itself?

Strength training, by itself, builds muscles. Lean muscle burns fat, even when the body is at rest. But, no matter how strong or defined a muscle is, if it is hidden under layers of fat, then the muscle will not show through. In order to gain definition, a woman should do cardio training on top of strength training. Cardio training helps to melt away the fat that hides the muscle. Cardio combined with lifting equals the maximum number of calories burned. Burning calories leads to weight loss if the body is using more energy than it is consuming.   

Is There a Specific Program to Follow?

In order to achieve weight loss instead of adding bulk, women should follow a strength training program of a specific number of sets, repetitions and weight. When lifting weights, women should do 1 to 3 sets of an exercise. Each set should consist of 12 to 15 repetitions. The exerciser's muscles should be tired, and the exercise should be hard to complete, in the final 3 repetitions. A lower amount of repetitions (8 to 10) will lead to big, bulky muscles. A weight that does not fatigue the muscle in the last 3 repetitions will not create change. Every movement of a weight should be slow and controlled.

The appropriate cardio plan to follow depends on a person's ability. People that do not have a good cardio base should complete a low intensity cardio workout for 30 minutes.  People that have a strong cardio base should use interval cardio training for 30 minutes. Interval cardio training consists of periods of different work intensities. With interval cardio training, an exerciser should work in low, medium and high stages and alternate continuously between the 3 stages. 

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Samantha Kopf – National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer

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