Monday, May 16, 2011

Pick up the Weights, Drop the Cardio

I opened my Oxygen magazine this morning and saw Jamie Eason's SoapBox article. Not surprisingly, I have the same gripes she does. First of all, there is definitely a polarity in most gyms. The weight room is full of men while the cardio area is often filled with women. I can't believe how many women continue to say that they "don't want to bulk up" so they stay away from the weights. Without weight lifting, you will never get the "toned" body that you want! Not only that, but overdoing cardio will actually burn the muscle you do have, causing that "skinny fat" look that is not pretty at all.

Of course, your nutrition and what you put into your body is even more important than working out. Some people say it's 80% nutrition. While I no longer agree with Clean Eating and have switched over to an Atkins low-carb lifestyle, I do agree that nutrition is the most important aspect of your training. After I lost over 100 pounds I still felt skinny fat, even though I was a size 6. Now I have finally lost some of that fat, even though my weight is a little higher. This is to be expected because muscle weighs more than fat.

Oh, and here's to debunking another rumour: YES, muscle does weigh more than fat. At some point, someone started arguing that "a pound is a pound, so a pound of fat weighs the same as a pound of fat." While it's true that a pound of anything does weigh the same as a pound of anything else, this is a completely illogical and ridiculous argument. If it had any validity it would actually wipe out the need for science and chemistry, and every single material in our known Universe would weigh the same as every other material. Obviously, this isn't the case, so let's just drop this silly "argument" already.

Here is a copy of my article on Why the Scale is a Big Fat Liar:
Most people weigh themselves weekly (if not daily). I would advise also taking your measurements when you weigh in as well. Why? Because once you start working out, that dumb old scale may stop moving so much. What you have to get your head wrapped around is this: it is OKAY if the scale isn't moving too much, if your measurements are going down! Don't get stuck about the scale. Not losing weight (according to the scale) is NOT a good reason to stop exercising. Let me tell you why:

Muscle is denser and weighs more than fat. As you exercise, you will be losing fat and adding muscle. This will cause your inches to go down because a pound of muscle takes up SO much less space than a pound of fat. If you were to put the same size of muscle beside the exact same size of fat, the muscle would weigh about 18% more than the fat! And that can translate to different numbers on the scale.

1 liter (approx a quart) of muscle weighs 1.06 kg (1006 g).
1 liter of fat weighs 0.9 kg (900 g). 1.06 kg is MORE THAN 0.9 kg. Incidentally, 1 liter of water usually weighs about 1.0 kg, so muscle weighs more than fat AND water! (Who knew?)

For us Americans, that translates to the following:
1 gallon of muscle weighs approximately 8.85 pounds (or 4.0125 kg). 1 gallon of fat weighs about 7.51 pounds (or 3.407 kg).

So just imagine carrying two of those gallon milk (or water) containers around from the grocery store. As you empty the one of fat and add muscle to it, it's going to get a little heavier. You have to empty more fat to see the numbers go down on the scale.

Hope that makes sense to everyone. I just don't want you to worry (or stop exercising!) if the scale isn't moving. Once you start losing inches, the scale WILL eventually catch up. This is easiest to see if you are also calculating your lean body mass and body fat percentage. Don't get discouraged! Exercising is great, and lifting weights will help you for years down the road in ways you don't even know about yet!

I hope that helps clear up things a bit. I'm not completely against cardio - in fact, I made it my focus this past month because I was lagging. However, it must be balanced by heavy lifting in order to see the gains you want.

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