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How should exercises differ when training for weight loss versus muscle gain?

The information you have and the decisions you make, have a significant impact on your efficiency. The information many people have is that you should do aerobic training (cardio) for weight loss and lift weights for muscle gain. However, this information is probably not the best to get you to your goals the most quickly.


First, as a personal trainer, typically when people are looking to lose weight, what they really want is to lose fat, and of course the weight that comes with that loss of fat or visa versa. I will continue this with the thought of fat loss as opposed to general weight loss, although they are often closely related.


Cardiovascular exercise, also called cardio for short, can really be anything that increases your heart rate above resting levels. Doing 30-60 minutes of cardio per day can be a great way to stay healthy and burn calories. The down fall is your body does not continue to burn an excess mount of calories as a consequence of this type of exercise.


So how can we burn extra calories while not working out?


This is where resistance training or weight lifting can come in handy. When heavy loads are moved, the muscles tend to become sore. This is from slightly damaging the muscles. When damage occurs in the body, the body automatically finds a way to try and repair. The body will use protein to help fix the damaged muscles. This requires a lot of extra work that you don’t even realize is going on.


Where there is extra work, there are extra calories being burned.  Assuming you’re not overeating, and you are getting adequate protein on a day to day basis, a combination of cardio and weightlifting training is the best way to get great results for losing or maintaining weight, while also shedding fat and maintaining lean muscle mass.


How about for people who only want to build muscle, and don’t care about losing any fat?


Resistance training should be the main focus of your program, especially if you have. Difficult time gaining weight or muscle. Cardio training is still an important aspect for health. Keep in mind that being lean does not mean you are always healthy and being overweight does not always mean you are unhealthy.


Performing some form of cardio exercise on a regular basis is still a good idea. I recommend at least 20 minutes 3 times a week. Or to be most efficient, incorporate large muscle, compound movements such as deadlift, squat, bench press, seated rows, and others that can keep your heart rate slightly elevated throughout the workout.


~GT the PT

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