If you're really trying to burn fat, hop off the cardio train and start strength training.
"What are you training for?"
This simple question will provide the answer to many of your training solutions. While many athletes have similarities, most are looking to affect some kind of change in their body composition or athletic performance. Some athletes wish to get bigger, others want to lose weight. Still others wish to become faster, or more explosive.
If this is the case, why are many athletes doing the same style of workout? Are you one of the athletes who endlessly repeats 3-4 sets of 10-15 repetitions? If so, read on…
Before really delving into the issue, it should be noted that energy systems (think rest intervals between sets & exercises) and diet play a big part in training as well. If you aren’t careful, you’ll be sabotaging your own efforts. Regardless of how you're training, if you’re eating more calories than you’re burning, you will gain weight, and if you’re at a calorie deficit you’ll lose weight! Look for other articles on this web site to address these needs.
That said, bodybuilding, or at least the act of training for muscle mass, has become ingrained in our culture. Athletes are bombarded with training information, and most of this information explains how Bodybuilding Champion X does 3-4 exercises for each bodypart, and completes 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps for each set. If you’re looking to gain muscle mass/size, this is a great way to accomplish your goals. Unfortunately, many athletes, especially women, train this way!
But what if you want to just get stronger, without necessarily getting bigger? A solid strategy to reach this goal is to drop the repetitions, and increase the weight used. That’s right, lower the reps, and increase the weight! When an athlete trains at the low end of repetition spectrum, he/she is working on strength – something that almost any athlete would like to improve. 4-6 sets of 4-8 reps would get the job done here.
It’s important to understand that there is NOT a direct correlation between muscle mass and strength. Just because someone is “big” doesn’t make them stronger. An example of this is the Olympic weightlifter. Olympic weightlifting, much like wrestling, is a weight class sport. If a 85 kg. lifter gets too heavy, he’ll have to increase his weight class to the 94 kg. class – and lift against even bigger (and stronger) opponents. Most lifters train in this low end of the rep spectrum, and increase their relative strength without getting bigger. Ladies athletes can – and should – train like this as well. Strength train properly, get stronger, and actually get leaner? Yes, it is done all the time!
So how does lifting heavier help you maintain – or even lose weight? Muscles, and increased muscle tone, burn more calories than fat mass, even at rest. Heavy lifting will promote a hormonal response in your body to increase your body’s metabolism. Most, if not all studies conclude that adding heavier weightlifting to an exercise routine will be more effective in burning calories than just doing cardio! Please read that again as I’m sure it will be a shock to most of you. These are only a few of the benefits to adding heavier strength training to your program.
Here's a quick guide to sets & reps: