Weight Loss Without Cardio

I answered this question on tumblr, and thought I would post my response here because it’s a good question! A lot more content like this on my tumblr if you guys are interested: http://ifitwasnteasy.tumblr.com/!

If I only do weight lifting, will I still lose weight? because I really despise cardio.

 Yep! Actually, diet is key to weight loss more so than any form of exercise. Weight lifting is key to maintaining your weight and getting the appearance and body composition that you want. Cardio might be the icing on the cake for some people, but it’s the icing, not the cake if you know what I mean. Most trainers/bodybuilders/fitness professionals that I respect and/or would want to trade bodies with say that you can lose weight and get the body you want with little to no cardio, and I agree. In fact, too much steady-state cardio can actually hinder your goals and make you GAIN weight (interesting article about this here). Personally I only do about 60-120 minutes of cardio TOTAL per week compared to 4 or 5 45-90 minute lifting sessions per week.

That being said, when you say you hate cardio, my guess is that you’re thinking about cardio as the treadmill or the elliptical, but that’s not the only kind that counts! Any form of exercise such as swimming, biking, hiking, rock climbing, yoga, horseback riding, surfing, dancing, etc that gets you moving and raises your heart rate is beneficial for your cardiovascular health, your general fitness (ie you don’t want to be a person who gets winded from climbing a flight of stairs), and your mood and energy levels. After all, “exercise gives you endorphins, and endorphins make you happy, and happy people don’t kill people.” 🙂 So the key is just finding a form of exercise that you enjoy. And if you have an active job/lifestyle like working as a waitress or camp counselor, or living in a city where you walk everywhere, you’re probably already getting enough cardio without going to the gym. April atFoods of April does a great breakdown of her daily calorie expenditure as measured by a bodymedia here. I think it deserves it’s own post, but basically you can see that she burns more calories working an 8 hour shift as a nurse but not formally exercising than she does on days where she does traditional cardio but nothing else for the whole day. (BTW the numbers are 2000 on days she works but doesn’t formally exercise, 1700-1750 for days she does just traditional cardio, and 2200-2700 on days she lifts—and she’s only 5’3 and 115lbs! All the more reason why you should lift weights!)

Finally, if you do choose to add gym-type cardio to your routine, the BEST kind is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) with short bursts of intense exercise—for example, I’ll do 30-60 second sprints on the treadmill at 10.0-11.0 mph followed by 1.5-2 minutes of walking at 3.5 mph, repeated about 5-8 times. This only takes 15-25 minutes, and you only need to do it 1-2x per week—if you’re doing it right you won’t be able to do it any more than that! But again, you don’t HAVE to do this if you truly can’t stand it! Just pay attention to your diet and keep up the lifting 🙂

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