Archive for the tag - release weight

Cardio or Strength Training to Lose Weight?

Hi Davey,

I have a lot of body fat and know that cardio is the only way to lose it. I spend 45 minutes 5 days a week doing interval training on the elliptical. I also want to appear toned and know that I need to add weights to my routine. I only have an hour a day to spend at the gym, so if I add weights, then it will be cutting down on my cardio time big time. What should I do to get ready to hit the beach this June? Stick with cardio and just do pushups and such, or cut back on the cardio and start with free weights?


Dear Anonymous,

You’ve just touched upon one of the biggest fitness misconceptions that the world has ever known. In fact, in some ways, I feel like it’s my personal mission to set things straight. Just doing cardio isn’t - I repeat, is not - the best way to lose weight.

Weight loss is most effectively achieved through a combination of BOTH cardiovascular exercise (i.e., treadmill, biking, swimming) and strength training. While the cardio will get your heart rate up and burn calories, strength training brings great weight loss benefits, too. Strength training adds muscle mass to your body, and increased muscle mass means a dramatically increased metabolism. Adding even a few pounds of muscle will increase the number of calories your body burns each and every day.

Focusing only on cardio and skipping strength training could actually make it harder for you to lose weight. In fact, you may even gain weight - especially if your cardio workouts exceed 45 minutes. If you do cardio too long, your body consumes muscle for energy. For most people, that “too long” mark is at about 45 minutes. Done over and over again, day after day, this excess cardio could have a substantial impact on your body - and the muscle loss could decrease your metabolism and result in weight gain.

If you have 60 minutes of gym time, here’s what I’d recommend for a client looking to lose weight:

  • 25 minutes of cardio (5 minutes of warming up, 15 minutes of intervals, 5 minutes of cooling down)
  • 30 minutes of strength training
  • 5 minutes of post-workout stretching

I hope this helps, and let’s forever put to rest that cardio-only workouts are a good idea for people looking to lose weight.


How Much Weight Can You Lose Per Week?

I get a lot of questions about weight loss - and more specifically, about how much weight a person can (safely) lose per week.

The general recommendation is that you can lose up to 1% of your weight per week. So, if you’re 200 lbs, then that’s 2 pounds the first week. Note that as you release weight, the per week amount changes. If you’re down to 150 lbs, then you wouldn’t want to release more than a pound and a half per week. Following this guideline, most of us wouldn’t want to lose more than a few pounds per week.

The recommend amount may sound low, but remember that losing weight slowly is more sustainable. In addition, in minimizes the sometimes harmful effects of rapid weight loss like loose skin.

But remember - losing weight is one thing, and losing fat is another. Fat is just part of our body’s variable weight. On top of our skeletons are layers of muscle, too. And our bodies contain a tremendous amount of water weight. Losing weight doesn’t tell the whole story.

For example, a dehydrated person will weigh less than when they are hydrated. But obviously, that’s not a good thing. And a person that is exercising and lifting weights may actually gain weight - though the weight gain is good, and the result of increased muscle mass. Clearly, weight is fairly limited as an indicator of body fat or as a measure of overall health.

Moving beyond the scale, I recommend using alternatives like inches lost (from the waist), inches gained (from the biceps, chest, etc.), increases in energy, health changes, body fat percentages and more.

5 Tricks: How to Lose 5 Pounds & Lean Up for Summer.

How to lean up for summer...

Not everyone is looking to drop a significant amount of weight. With summer just around the corner, a lot of people are looking to just drop a few pounds and increase their definition. And for other people who have already lost weight, those last few pounds can be particularly pesky and stubborn.

If you’re looking to lose 5, 10 or 15 pounds, know that it’s best done through a combination of both increased exercise and modified diet. No surprise there, but here are a few helpful tricks:

  1. Evaluate your goal. Do you really need to lose those 5 pounds? For people that have already lost weight, maybe the quality of your life has already improved. Is another 5 pounds really necessary? Leaning up - even if it’s just a few pounds - requires changes in lifestyle. It’s not always worth the effort, and is often only temporarily sustainable. If you really do want to drop those extra pounds, keep reading.
  2. Increase your workout oomph. Pumping up the fitness side of the equation is important, and it can be done by increasing the frequency of your workouts (i.e., go to the gym 5x a week instead of 3 or 4), boosting the intensity of your exercise (i.e., running faster, steeper inclines, etc.), changing the type of exercise (i.e., swapping out biking for running intervals), or increasing the time spent exercising. A small change in your workout’s frequency, intensity, type, or duration will add up over the course of several weeks.
  3. Pick a diet plan, and stick to it. Basically, you can either reduce your carbohydrate intake or decrease your overall caloric intake. Both work. It’s just a matter of finding which works for you. If you love your burgers and steaks, a low-carb diet may make more sense. If you’re unwilling to give up bread and pasta, a low calorie diet is probably a better fit.
  4. Eliminate hidden carb/calorie sources. If you are decreasing your overall caloric intake, be mindful of portion sizes. Plates can be deceiving (big plates make portions look smaller!), and so measuring your food is a safe and fool-proof bet. Both carb and calorie counters must both pay special attention to beverages, as they’re often a hidden source of empty calories and carbohydrates. Yes, that means no soda, sweetened iced tea or lemonade. Cheeses, dips, spreads and salad dressings can also be hidden calorie bombs. But remember - there are plenty of delicious healthy choices for you to eat, and it makes a lot more sense to focus on what you can consume rather than what you can’t.
  5. Drink lots of water. I sound like a broken record player when I espouse the benefits of hydration. But drink, drink, drink your daily allotment of water. It will keep your metabolism racing, and a glass or two before a meal will help curb your appetite.

There really isn’t any secret to losing 5, 10 or 15 pounds of stubborn body fat. It just requires some time (give yourself 4 weeks for every 5-ish pounds) and dedication. For some extra help, download my Ultimate Guide to Working Out. Use promo code “summer” during checkout to save $10 before March 12.

Are you trying to lose a small amount of stubborn body fat? What’s your current approach to releasing the weight? Tell me about it in the comments below.