We’ve all heard it before: “if weight loss is your goal then you need a cardio-heavy routine!” Treadmills, step machines, Zumba, jazzercise, these are just some of the cardio fads of the past few decades, and are still prevalent today. But for all you cardio haters out there (is anyone really a cardio lover?!) we’ve got some good news; the truth is, you can lose the cardio… and lose the weight too!
The power of hormones
A pioneer in women’s exercise science, loved by us here at Aleenta, Dr Stacy Sims recently covered this topici and we just had to share because we couldn’t agree more! It is time us women stop being afraid of resistance training in fear of ‘bulking up.’ Now, we already covered why lifting weights doesn’t equal bulk, but you may be wondering how exactly resistance training could contribute to weight loss if you are actually building muscle. Well the answer lies not in fat or muscle, but in hormones!
A recent study on a group of young women found that after a series of barbell exercises, including a back squat, bent-over row, and reverse lunges, there was a significant increase in the breakdown of fat in the abdominal area both during and after the trainingii.
Additionally, fat-burning was noted in the entire body post exercise. The researchers found that this was “triggered by increases in growth hormone, epinephrine, and norepinephrine, which support fat metabolism.” The best part is that the female-lead team made sure to run the experiment in line with the participants’ menstrual cycles “to avoid the high-estrogen midluteal phase, which can enhance exercise-induced fat burning in women.”
The added benefits of lifting weights
Another study in postmenopausal women found that strength training twice a week significantly reduced visceral fat as well, a kind of fat that can increase the risk of insulin resistance, type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and breast canceriii. This is because strength training not only improves insulin sensitivity (important for combatting type II diabetes), but also helps manage blood sugar levels.
So, what does this mean for you? We may have been a bit too lenient in saying you could ditch the cardio… after all, it is super important for your metabolic and cardiovascular health. However, if your goal in fitness is weight loss, and cardio is your arch nemesis, you can rest a little easier knowing there is more than one road to losing weight. At Aleenta, we recommend checking out our new Barre Strong class to incorporate more strength training into your routine, with weights up to 12kg. While Dr Sims encourages heavier lifting with barbell equipment, if weights aren’t really your style know that strength training includes a wide range of equipment and exercises, and you definitely don’t have to get acquainted with dumbbells, bench presses or squat racks! Even bodyweight exercises or light hand weights used in Barre and Pilates are types of resistance training that can trigger the same hormonal response. So, no matter your go-to fitness style, there’s an option for everyone!
i) Sims, Dr Stacy T. Want to Burn Belly Fat? Lift Weights. 25 May 2022. 20 June 2022. <https://www.drstacysims.com/blog/want-to-burn-belly-fat-lift-weights>.
ii) Allman, Brittany R. and et. all. "Fat metabolism and acute resistance exercise in trained women." Journal of Applied Physiology3 (2019): 739-745.
iii) Hunter, Gary R and et. all. "Resistance training and intra-abdominal adipose tissue in older men and women." Med Sci Sports Exerc. 34.6 (2002): 1023-8.
Written by Sascha Czuchwicki