Should I run or lift weights to lose weight?

Should I lift weights or run to lose weight

Q: I’m 270lbs. I’m 35 years-old. My doc tells me I need to drop 30lbs, possibly more.When I graduated from high school I was only 165lbs. Too much beer. Too much golf. Will you write me a workout program to help me lose weight?

A: No.

Here’s why….

You don’t need a workout program. You need cardio done daily with a few simple dietary changes, and the weight will melt right off.

And here’s why:

  1. Safety – You have bum shoulders and a manual labor job where you’re crawling, pulling, and hammering for 8+ hours per day. You’re 30+lbs out of shape. Adding a resistance training program will only make you sore. You can’t risk being so sore you can’t squat down for your job. And then what happens next? You start missing workouts because you’re too sore and it’s interfering with your job. Wait until you’re in better shape to add resistance training. Cardio, done correctly, is a lot safer initially. Better yet, rarely will you be sore the next day too.
  1. Focus -Right now your only goal should be to lose weight. If you start resistance training, you’ll lose focus. Each week you’ll start adding weight to the bar, see your bench and squat numbers go up, and be reminded of your glory days of high school football. Soon you’ll forget about losing weight and just focus on adding strength. You only have so many hours per week you’ll be able to exercise, and I can guarantee more and more of that time will be spent resistance training chasing those personal records. The end result – You’ll still have the beer gut, and worse yet, you’ll now be heavier because you’ve added some muscle underneath that layer of fat. Hit your goal weight first using cardio and diet, and then once you’re at your goal, add resistance training. The scale is the only objective measurement you’ll need for now.
  1. Effectiveness – You’re 270lbs. Just walking on the treadmill at a 5-6% incline will burn a ton of calories at that bodyweight. What about EPOC, and how resistance training/HIIT keeps your metabolism up for 72 hours after you get done working out? You’re 270lbs. You haven’t exercised in over 12 months. I guarantee you that if you tried HIIT or resistance training, you’d be so sore you wouldn’t exercise more than 2-3 times per week (you’d probably even get injured). At the end of the week, you may burn 2000 calories. Plus, I know how your resistance training sessions will go. You and a buddy will perform some bench presses, incline presses, some back, and then a few tricep exercises. You’ll perform an exercise for 20 seconds, and then talk for 5 minutes. In an hour’s workout, you’ll only actually perform like 10 minutes of work. Your heart rate will rarely be elevated, and you won’t even break a sweat. However, with cardio, you’ll be able to exercise daily with very little residual soreness. At the end of the week, you’ll end up burning 3500 calories+ per week. When you’re trying to lose weight, calories are king – how many you burn and how many you eat. Start with just cardio. It’s easy, you won’t get too sore, and you’ll see the scale drop. I know it’s boring, but pop on your headphones, find a good podcast, and jump on the treadmill, elliptical, or bike.
  1. Convenience – When it comes to weight loss, consistency is king. You won’t always be able to make it to the gym. A kid will be sick, you’ll have to work late, or it will be just too dang cold outside to get out. If you were on a resistance training program, you’d simply chalk that up as a missed workout. No extra calories burned tonight. However, with cardio, you’d still be able to do some form of cardio at your house. Body weight squats, pushups, shadow boxing, and running in place can be done anywhere. There are literally thousands of free at-home workouts on YouTube you can do. Are they all great? No. But they will suffice for one workout.

So what kind of cardio program should you do?

It doesn’t matter. If you like to run, hop on the treadmill. If you have bad knees, try the elliptical or bike. If those options are boring, try the Jacob’s Ladder, rowers, battling ropes, or a simple bodyweight circuit. Start out easy -15 to 20 minutes. Gradually increase your time/distance.

Dad Tip: If you hate cardio as much as I did, purchase a MyZone heart rate monitor. It tracks your heart rate, calories burned, and MEPS (points for working out hard) in real-time. I swear to you – it makes cardio fun. It almost becomes a game, and as a dad, I know you love games.

Don’t forget about the scale too. Weigh yourself on the same scale daily. Then take that week’s results, calculate an average, and see if that average is less than last week’s average. If it is, keep going. If it’s not, do more or eat less.

And of course, once you hit your goal weight, then start chiseling that six pack and chest with weights.

PSA – I know the keyboard warriors are going to rip me to shreds on this one. I get it. Before I opened a gym, I would have too. I absolutely hated cardio and initially pushed all of my members towards strength training. However, after a few years, I noticed all of our major weight loss success stories started with simple, easy cardio done daily, and I was smacked in the face with a simple truth – real > ideal.

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