Thursday, March 17, 2022

Does Cardio Ruin Your Gains from Weight Training?

Afternoon, folks. I hope you and your family are doing well. Yesterday I ran 3 miles. Lord willing, tomorrow I will bike. Today I had a big pump at the gym. I'm finding it more and more challenging to balance cardio with weight training. Yes, you should 100 percent be doing regular cardio that will elevate your heart rate! But the neat thing about resistance training is that it's also a pretty good cardio workout. It won't give you the cardiovascular endurance of someone who runs half marathons regularly, but it will keep your heart healthy. Either way, the goal is to combat a sedentary lifestyle. 

The more I exercise, the more I realize just how amazing the human body is. Your body doesn't necessarily want to lose weight or gain weight. But if you change something, the body has an amazing ability to adapt accordingly. So which is more important -- cardio or resistance training? I think most people would say that cardio isn't ideal for weight loss. Cardio allows the body to slow down its metabolism, while lifting increases your metabolism. Cardio and resistance training actually send two completely different signals to your body that interfere with each other. Cardio is katabolic, meaning it breaks down (kata). Lifting is anabolic, meaning it builds up (ana). Weight training builds muscle mass, and muscle requires a lot of calories to manage itself. The problem I have is that I love both weight training and cardio. I've been running for about 6 years now. I've been lifting seriously for about 6 months now. Cardio has definitely been good to me. Cardio, of course, doesn't just mean going for a run. It means going for a lovely walk, or swimming, or cycling for a couple of hours. But the fact is that you should not rely on cardio to lose or maintain weight. It's not ideal for fat loss. I don't really care if I put on weight if I know I'm losing body fat. If the number on the scales stays the same yet I have less fat, that would be ideal. Lifting has always had the stigma that it is only for getting bigger. But it's the perfect exercise for increasing your BMR (basal metabolic rate). 

So, now what? I think, for me, the goal should be balance. My current plan is to lift four times week and do cardio twice a week. This gives me 6 days of exercise and one complete day for rest. The endurance junkie in me is always looking for the next race. I find great satisfaction in combining my passion for running with raising money for charities that are close to my heart (usually ones having to do with cancer). I'm driven whenever I watch people with cancer overcome so many adversities. They're building a strength that can be applied to other parts of their lives. I start to think how blessed I am to be out there running and I don't want to squander any opportunities the Lord gives me in life. Getting older, I only have so much left in my legs. But if God wills, I do hope to complete an ultra this year as well as at least two more marathons. I've also taken a liking to triathlons, three of which I have on my calendar for 2022. 

Again, my challenge is finding that all-too-elusive balance in life between cardio and resistance training. That said, I LOVE a good challenge, so this is a great conundrum to work into the mix of challenges I face in my life. And, as much as training means to me, I try not to be ruled by it. I don't want to get so stuck in my training that I forget to be alive and look around me and see all the beautiful things that abound in this world.