I know I know. The cardio bunnies are going to attack! But before you do, let me clarify.
As a former cardio bunny myself, I know why many think cardio is superior. BUT - this is not the point, the point is - where do you get the MOST bang for your buck in the shortest amount of time. (AKA: Smarter not harder)
That would be strength training.
If you only have 30 minutes a day to workout - which would you rather do? Something that is metabolism boosting, burns more calories longer and builds lean muscle (aka: the 'toned' look [though I hate this word] that people want) or cardio that can burn muscle, stops burning calories when the movement is complete (with the exception of HIIT cardio) and that is not appropriate for building lean muscle?
If you still aren't convinced, let me give you 3 reasons why you should be:
1. Strength training burns more calories longer
Meet my favorite little acronym EPOC (Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption). EPOC refers to how long your metabolism is elevated post workout, thus, allowing you to burn fat for longer durations once your workout is complete. There is very little EPOC with cardio - for example: when you stop running, you stop burning. Strength training, by contrast, can elevate your EPOC for up to 38 hours post workout - 38 hours! Which means - strength training is key to burning calories for longer durations.
Additionally, when you strength train, you build MUSCLE. And muscle tissue burns more calories - even at REST! Research shows that 10lbs of muscle burns 50 calories while 10lbs of fat burns 20 calories. As an avid lifter, while I am resting eating my bon bons (otherwise known in our house as almond butter), I am burning over 50% more calories than just doing cardio alone. SCORE!
When you lose weight, your metabolism decreases. Why? Because as you reduce the amount of body fat you have, your body begins to attempt to conserve energy by slowing the rate at which you burn calories. If you can picture a line graph - picture two lines: one being your metabolism and one being your weight loss. As the weight loss line drops, so too will your metabolism line. So if you only do cardio alone, guess what you have to do as your metabolism continues to slow in order to keep your loss going? That's right - ADD MORE cardio. No thanks!
Strength training can help your metabolism stay revved and keep you burning. With the added bonus of so many variations of types of strength training to keep your body progressing (and have fun doing it!)
3. Strength Training Helps You....
Pick up your kids without straining
Reduce low back pain (goodbye desk-job issues!)
Improve your confidence based on what your body can DO
Help reduce visceral fat (the nemesis of type 2 Diabetes)
Promotes bone density and bone development
Need I say more?
Cardio does have it's place in every workout program. However, for those that perform only cardio, you are missing out on the incredible health benefits of strength training.
As I mentioned above - HIIT cardio (High Intensity Interval Training) is a great way to incorporate cardio in to your workout to continue to improve your metabolic capacity. HIIT cardio can help you burn more calories for longer durations similar to strength training. Think sprints - any short burst of high intensity activity followed by a longer 'recovery' period.
Try: 5 minute warm-up, 20 second sprint/jump rope/battle ropes/bike sprint followed by 1:40 seconds at 50% of your sprint intensity. Repeat 6x and do a 5 minute cool-down.
There are SO MANY fun ways to incorporate strength training in to your routine. Personal trainers are a great idea if you like to workout solo or in a small group so you can learn proper form, machines and weights you can use. Many gyms offer fun classes like Les Mills weight lifting classes, boot camps with strength training movements, cross fit classes, Pilates reformer, yoga strength and more! You can even find great videos on YouTube for bodyweight exercises, band work and even use things like your stairs, chairs and your sidewalk you can do at home to increase strength - the opportunities are endless!