Sarah Bowmar here with answers to one of your most frequently asked questions! Today, the question I’m addressing is: “If I am trying to lose weight, should I just do cardio until I get to my goal weight and then start lifting weights? I don’t want to start lifting weights and then build muscle over my fat.”
The truth is, a lot of different factors go into weight loss and healthy living. Here are a few facts that may help you in your journey:
1: Do not let your goals be defined by the scale. Instead, focus on your body fat percentage, because that’s what matters. Let’s say you’re 130lbs, and you choose to just do cardio and diet to get to your “goal weight.” Then, you start lifting weights. What will happen? YOU WILL GAIN WEIGHT BECAUSE YOU ARE GAINING MUSCLE. In 5 months you might be up to 135. So, then what? Now you’re stuck in this perpetual cycle of trying to lose more weight to get to some magical number that has no meaning whatsoever.
2: Weight loss comes from being in a caloric deficit. This means eating less and moving more while still remaining above your BMR. Understand that you burn calories all day long, not just on the treadmill. Weight lifting burns calories. Digesting food burns calories. Sleep burns calories. All this calorie-burning adds up and shows you don’t have to burn yourself out with cardio to be in a caloric deficit.
3: Your BMR (basal metabolic rate) makes up roughly 60-70% of your total calories burned per day. That means your ACTIVITY aka your cardio and training only makes up 30-40%. Less than HALF of your total calories burned per day actually comes from training. So, the best way to lose body fat is to increase your BMR, right? Right.
4: Increasing your BMR comes from increasing muscle mass. More muscle = more energy needed to move those muscles = more calories burned = more weight loss! Cardio alone WILL NOT increase your BMR.
5: Don’t get me wrong, cardio is important. But BOTH weight training and cardio should be incorporated along with a healthy diet when trying to lose body fat. If you’re worried you’ll “build muscle over fat,” don’t be. That’s not how the human body works. It’s not like you’re placing something permanent over your fat cells that keeps your fat cells from shrinking because you’re lifting weight.
6: Take your focus off the scale. Instead, measure your progress by your body fat percentage, take comparison photos every 2 weeks, take measurements, and pay attention to how your clothes feel.
In short, don’t be afraid to lift weights.
- Sarah Bowmar
If you need a training program, check out options from Sarah Bowmar and Josh Bowmar at bowmarfitness.com!
For more answers to your weight loss, nutrition, and healthy living questions, check out more articles from Sarah Bowmar at sarahbowmar.com.