Today was my first day back in the gym after being on vacation for the last 10 days. I love working out, but like most people I found myself making excuses on why I could skip today. I finally decided to suck it up and go do a light weight workout, knowing I would be much happier once I got there. And I was.
I ran into one of my friends shortly after I warmed up and we chatted for about 20 minutes. I’m not a bigger talker at the gym, but this girl had once been my workout partner and I wanted to catch up with her. She told me about her current workout routine she’ll be doing while her kids are at swim practice this summer.
My friend’s routine:
She’s doing an hour of quick walking followed by an hour of running while her kids are at swim practice, then they grab a snack and head to the gym where she does another 2 hours of weights and/or cardio. This girl has great work ethic and so I know she’s not slacking on any of this.
“I’m doing more cardio and eating less and so I should lose more weight, right?”
I love this girl. I really do, but I today I wanted to shake her really, really hard. She attempted this last summer and ended up gaining weight and it wasn’t muscle! She was not only miserable, but very upset that she had done all of this work, but ended up gaining weight.
I did a loud, audible sigh before trying to knock some common sense into her.
This is IMPORTANT ya’ll, so listen up!
I’m going to let you in on some of the most common workout myths and mistakes that keep sweeping through the internet like wildfire. You shouldn’t believe like 90% of what you read online when it comes to fitness and nutrition. I’ll list a few of my favorite fitness experts at the end so you can find reputable information you can trust.
1. More is Better
Wrong. Plain and simple. More is just more. It doesn’t mean it’s better. You should be working smarter not harder.
When I started Get Glutes, I felt like I wasn’t doing enough work and actually that was probably the most frequently asked question on the Get Glutes forum. I decided to put my blind faith into Bret’s programming skills.
Hello! His record should speak for itself, so who was I to question his ability to write a workout program that actually works?
I stuck with the program as it was written and by the end of the first month I could already see a huge difference in my strength and my measurements. I was spending about 50% less time in the gym, but was getting amazing results. That’s the same thing you’ll hear from the majority of the ladies who do Get Glutes.
Good programming with good coaches is essential, but what is even more essential is actually listening and following their advice.
If you decide you are smarter than the coaches and add all this extra stuff in, then you’re not going to see the results you could have.
2. Cardio is a Must for Weight Loss
Wrong again. Cardio has its time and place. If you’re a runner, biker, swimmer, etc., then by all means do your cardio. However, if you are looking to lose weight (lose fat), then killing yourself with cardio isn’t the way to get there. Keep reading. I will get back to when cardio is appropriate.
“But people lose weight when doing cardio!”
Exactly. People lose “weight” when doing cardio, but there’s a difference between “weight loss” and “fat loss”.
The bathroom scale gives us a number that reflects our weight, but it can be skewed by water retention, the last time you ate, the last time you pooped, how well hydrated you are, hormones at different times of the month, etc. Get the point? The number on the scale fluctuates A LOT based on these things, plus many more.
3. What is Weight Loss?
Weight loss is measured by scale weight. Duh. You know that already, but did you know that when you lose weight you are losing water, muscle, and maybe fat.
“But the number on the scale is going down. Isn’t that what we want?”
Not exactly. Muscle drives our metabolism. Muscle is constantly breaking down and building back up (along with most other tissues in the body). You actually burn more calories during this time, then you will during your workout (resting energy expenditure or REE). If you lose muscle through weight loss, then the number of calories you burn during rest will go down, which will in turn hurt your “weight loss” goals.
The more muscle you have the higher your metabolism will be and the more you’ll get to eat. Now isn’t that what you want? Who doesn’t want to be able to eat more while maintaining their weight?
–Ok, that’s the most simplistic explanation ever, but I don’t want to load you down with terms and science. If you want that type of info, then check out the list of trainers and sports nutritionists below.
4. How does Fat Loss differ?
When you build muscle through weight training, you can stay the same weight while losing body fat. The number on the bathroom scale will remain the same; however, your measurements will be going down.
How is that possible?
You may have heard a pound of muscle weighs more than a pound of fat, but that’s not true. A pound is a pound no matter what you are measuring.
However, a pound of muscle takes up about 20% less space (volume) than a pound of fat so when you are adding muscle and losing fat at the same time, you’re measurements will decrease, but the scale may not change at all. And that’s ok. The number on the scale shouldn’t be your ultimate goal. Fat loss with muscle gain should be.
Remember, muscle drives our metabolism. You want to add lean muscle not only to fill out your shape so you won’t be “skinny fat”, but also to help keep your metabolism high.
5. So when IS cardio appropriate?
Let’s say you’re doing a solid program like Get Glutes, you have your nutrition dialed in by counting macros (macronutrients–protein, fat, and carbs), and you had been losing body fat until the last two weeks. You know your workouts have been consistent and your diet has been spot on, so you figure you have hit a fat loss plateau. This is called metabolic adaptation by the way. Our bodies have become extremely smart to survive famines and other crisis over the years. So just know your body will adapt to your diet (those very low cal diets??? Big NO NO!!! You’ll regret it later on because it will really slow or even damage your metabolism) and cardio routine over time.
So how do you break the plateau?
Well, this would be the time you brought out the cardio as your big gun. You would add in a short cardio session 3-4 times/week for 2-3 weeks ONLY!!! This would be in addition to your weight lifting sessions. When your body starts burning fat again (measurements start changing, clothes get looser, etc.), then you would cut out the cardio and continue with the weight lifting and current diet plan.
In summary, you don’t need to spend a ton of time at the gym to get the body (and health) you are wanting. Work out smarter and not harder by starting a good weight lifting program like Get Glutes.
Get your diet in order because you simply can’t out train a bad diet. Does this mean you have to go low calorie? No, it doesn’t. I suggest checking out Sohee Lee’s very basic guide to counting macros. This will give you an idea of how to incorporate your favorite treats into your meal plans while still losing body fat.
Whatever method you use to lose your weight will be the same method you have to stick with in order to keep the weight off so make sure it is something you can maintain long term.
The Nutritional Experts
Have any questions? Let me know. I would be glad to help you out.