With the holiday season coming to an end, many of you are making plans to shed some pounds in the new year. When you are trying to lose weight, the first thing you should know is that it's a lot easier to consume a calorie than to burn it off. So your first priority should be your diet - as in staying away from meals like these.
Once you have a proper diet, the next step is exercise. Most people assume that the best way to burn calories is to do lots of cardio. But you might be surprised to learn that smart weight training might be just as effective if not more effective in terms of burning calories, with the added benefit of making you stronger.
One reason is EPOC, Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption, informally referred to as afterburn. Although the mechanism of EPOC is complicated, the idea is simple: Your body needs to burn calories after you are done working out in order to restore itself to a resting state. Weight training done at a faster pace has been shown to result in more EPOC than simple cardio, so in terms of calories burned, the same 30 minutes of exercise gets you more bang for your buck. The increase in calorie burn is small compared to what you burn during the actual workout, but over the course of weeks and months it can add up.
The best results might come from combining cardio and weight training in one exercise session. Clients often ask which order they should chose if doing both, but studies focused on pure caloric burn tend to be conflicted on the answer. Our Fitness For Life philosophy calls for doing cardio first for safety reasons. When your muscles are warmed up and your joints are lubricated you are less likely to injure yourself, and an elevated heart rate might help your concentration when doing the more technical weight training portion of your workout.