Which will help you to reach your January fitness goals?

In the midst of the ‘new year, new me’ surge in the gym, there will be a lot going on in your head. Questions like, “am I doing this right?”; “should my legs still hurt four days after the gym?”; “do I need to walk around with a protein shaker to fit in here?”; and “should I be sweating on the treadmill or weight lifting?” will probably crop up a lot. Whether you’re completely new to this whole ‘fitness’ malarkey or if you’re just getting back into it, it’s important that we do it right to reach our maximum potential.

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In order to get our gym mojo on the right way, we spoke to Abbie Watkins, qualified Personal Trainer from OriGym Centre of Excellence, to find out how we can use this time to our advantage and get the most out of our new year workouts. Spoiler: you don’t need a protein shaker to do this.

Abbie began with what we were all thinking, saying that, “most people assume that cardio is best for burning calories, and weight-training is best for building muscle but simply put, this isn’t exactly true.” It is a general assumption that doing hours and hours of cardio will make us lose weight faster than sitting down and using a weights rack for a session.

Why is this?

Abbie explains that, “during a 30-minute cardio workout you will burn more calories than you would if you put the same amount of effort into 30 minutes of weight training. So, it’s easy to see why most people jump on the treadmill when they want to lose a few pounds.” She goes onto clarify that, “there a couple of things that make weight-training an equally relevant, if not better, exercise for people who want to burn fat and lose weight.”

OK, so to lose weight we can do both cardio and weight training and get results. Now comes the question of gaining muscle and bulking up. The fear of gaining too much muscle and looking physically defined is what puts a lot of people off using weights to aid their weight loss. Abbie tells us that this isn’t actually the case.

She said, “you might burn more calories during a cardio workout, but this weight loss isn’t specific to fat loss. Whereas weight training builds more muscle and burns fat, this isn’t the case for cardio – you’ll lose both fat and muscle if you only do cardio exercise. Even if your fitness goal isn’t to look physically muscular, building muscle is an important part of fat loss, not only because it will help to shape and define your physique, but because building muscle has benefits for increasing metabolic activity.”

So in other words, using weights will help us to lose body fat even while we’re resting. Now, we’re listening…

Abbie revealed, much to our delight, that, “building muscle increases your resting metabolism, so the more muscle you have the more calories you will burn during every second of your rest period. Because weight training is more effective than cardio exercise for building muscle, somebody who favours weight -training will have a higher resting metabolism than somebody who focuses on cardio.”

She pointed out to us that it during a weight session work out, you might not necessarily burn as many calories during as you would over the duration of a 5K run, but you’ll actually continue to burn more calories after exercising. “The increase in metabolic rate is heightened during the first few hours post workout.”

So, there we have it.

Both doing cardio and using weights contribute to weight loss, neither one more than the other. They work in different ways and so realistically, a healthy and efficient way to maximise your weight loss would be to incorporate both into your plan. So while you might be rushing to cram in as many runs or workouts as you can throughout January, take a moment to stop and think about how you can create a plan to help.

Keep up the good work all of you January gym goers!

Feature image: Chase Kinney on Unsplash