We'll start this newsletter reviewing the Cardio or Resistance debate. Which is better for losing weight? There is a big
controversy in the weight loss and fitness world when comparing weight loss benefits of cardio versus resistance training.
Weight Watchers defines exercise as — anything that gets you moving. Any movement is good movement, according to Weight
Watchers, and members are encouraged to build up their activity levels over the course of the program. Each activity earns a
certain number of points, calculated for each individual based on body weight, length of time spent doing the activity and the
exertion you feel. You can review using Activity Points HERE.
So the official Weight Watchers stance is essentially to do whatever exercise will get you motivated to do it consistently.
Back to the original question, though. Is cardio or resistance better for losing weight?
The answer is a combination of both cardio and resistance is best. But what if you just have time for one?
Minute per minute, cardio indisputably burns more calories than strength training, which could explain why compared to strength
trainers, cardio exercisers lose more weight in less time, according to a recent Duke University study. If you are in an epic battle
with your scale, cardio is the way to go.
Still, cardio doesn't do much for your muscles. In one Penn State study, dieters lost 21 pounds whether they performed cardio or
resistance training. But for the cardio group, six of those pounds came from muscle loss, while the resistance group lost almost
pure fat—and probably fit into their skinny jeans better because of it.
So, in short, if you only have time (or motivation) to do either cardio or resistance exercises, decide whether you are more
interested in the scale moving - or the inches moving. Cardio is going to give you quicker results on the scale. Resistance is
going to add muscle and melt away fat faster - so you'll lose inches faster.
Benefits of Resistance Training
Strength training builds lean muscle, which causes your body to burn more calories even after your workout is over. Fitness
experts say you can expect to burn an extra 120 calories a day without moving a single one of those muscles.
Plus, if you want to get a “toned” body, you need to increase muscle mass. That “toned” look you’re going after is achieved by
increasing muscle mass and reducing body fat. You can do loads of cardio all day and you’ll never achieve a true tight and
toned look if you don’t have enough muscle underneath that fat layer that you’re working so hard lose.
If I lift weights will I get big muscles if I am a woman?
We (especially women) are programmed to believe that we must stick to dumbbells less than 10 pounds and perform dozens of
reps on end so that we can “tone” our bodies and avoid getting big, “manly” muscles. Women don’t possess the levels of
testosterone needed to develop the freakishly large bodies that the media has you imagining. In fact, women have about
15 to 20 times less testosterone than men do.
Since most of you reading this are probably beginners, most of this newsletter will discuss using light weights (or body
weight only) during resistance training. But know that using heavier weights will not bulk you up if you are a woman.
Where do I begin?
Resistance training is obviously a great way to tone. The only catch? It can be intimidating if you don’t know where to start.
Measure yourself before you start strength training. For two reasons - 1) it will be great to see your trouble areas shrink, and 2)
muscle weighs more then fat, so the scale might not reflect your progress as well as shrinking body measurements. So you'll
need the positive reinforcement
Then, you'll need to assess your experience level to determine what resistance exercises are appropriate for you, then take a
look at our suggestions for getting started below.
BEGINNER — You’re completely new to working out and/or strength training:
INTERMEDIATE — You work out regularly, but don’t do much strength training
ADVANCED — You currently do some strength training, but not on a consistent basis
Warm Up is Critical!
At any level of experience, a good warm-up before starting is key to increase the effectiveness of your workout as well as help
avoid injury. We realize your initial reaction will be to skip it. After all, you can barely carve out a 30-minute workout window.
Who wants to waste even one valuable calorie-torching minute on tedious knee hugs and neck rolls?
But warming up for resistance training is essential. You want to get your muscles primed and ready before you
start working them. The below easy 5-minute warm-up is perfect for revving your whole body and
getting it ready to go before any workout—strength training, cardio, or otherwise.
Assess yourself as a Beginner?
If you’re completely new to working out and/or resistance training, you'll want to start out slowly with easy exercises. The
decision to use a gym or not, is totally up to you. We'll give you both options.
Below is an amazing, but super easy workout. This is the perfect entry into resistance training, with a picture for each exercise.
You'll need 3-5 pound weights for this, so it might be worth it to invest in inexpensive weights. An inexpensive alternative
would be to make your own weights. Fill a 1 liter water bottle with dry sand (for a 3 pound weight) or a gallon jug of water filled
2/3 full (for a 5 pound weight).
You'll also notice they mention a stability ball in several of the exercises. Notice they give you alternatives to using the balance
ball (like a chair), so there is no need to invest in one.
Beginner Resistance Training
At the Gym
If you can afford it (and truly feel you'll actually GO), a gym is a great place to begin resistance training. The gym has easy to
use weight machines and an array of hand weight sizes as well as barbell free weights. If you're joining a gym, be sure and
select one that will give you at least an initial (no commitment) personal training session. Be honest with the trainer if you won't
be using his/her services. This way, they'll help you map out an easy program you can do on your own. Be sure and take great
notes during this session!
Assess yourself as Intermediate or Advanced?
Below is a PDF for a great resistance home workout that can be adapted to either those assessing themselves as Intermediate or
Advanced. You can ramp up and skip the cardio when beginning the program or go all out if you feel comfortable. Increase your
weight when the exercises get easier.
For the purposes of the exercise, they are using what looks to be 3 pound hand weights and 8-15 pound hand weights. But
we've got a great substitute using super inexpensive gallon jugs and larger water bottles. Fill a 1 liter water bottle with dry sand
(for a 3 pound weight) or a gallon jug of water (for an 8 pound weight). Increase the weight of the gallon jug to 13 pounds by
filling it with dry sand.
At Home Resistance Training
At the Gym
If you can afford it (and truly feel you'll actually GO), a gym is a great place to begin resistance training. The gym has easy to use
weight machines and an array of hand weight sizes as well as barbell free weights. If you're joining a gym, be sure and select
one that will give you at least an initial (no commitment) personal training session. Be honest with the trainer if you won't be
using his/her services. This way, they'll help you map out an easy program you can do on your own. Be sure and take great
notes during this session!
The bonus of a gym is that you can do circuit training that works cardio into your resistance training. Essentially, you move
from machine to machine (or exercise to exercise if you are using free weights) with little or no pause. You work up your heart
rate while increasing muscle tone. If you are interested in this option, be sure and share that with the personal trainer who will
be showing you a program you can do yourself.
NEXT NEWSLETTER: Gaining when I exercise!
Legal Reminders: Please see full legals at bottom of page. Shortened version: We aren't affiliated in any way with Weight Watchers. To
formally follow Weight Watchers you must attend meetings or subscribe to Weight Watchers online. Any advice that we give is based on
research we have done over the past year via forums, blogs posts and informative articles. Consult doctor before starting any diet plan.