June 28, 2013
Can Strength Training Burn Fat?

Are you currently keeping up with your cardio? Hopefully, yes. Cardiovascular exercise will burn calories, increase cardiovascular fitness, and help keep you lean. Are you currently continuing your strength training? Again, hopefully you are. Strength training is imperative to maintaining muscle mass and building it (if that is your goal). But is it possible to get the best of cardio while only doing strength training? The simple answer is yes. The more complex answer includes one caveat: your strength training must be done in a circuit.

The physiological benefits that come from cardio are due to the steady increase in heart rate as you exercise. The physical demand results in your body increasing your heart rate, burning calories, and adapting to the demand. The same goes for strength training. By loading your muscles and pushing them to their limits, your muscles grow, get stronger, and adapt to the challenge. We typically think of cardio and strength being mutually exclusive... Cardio burns fat and strength builds muscle. We can mix the two to get a blend of results. Circuit training is the key to this mix.

Circuit training is strength training, but with little to no rest. The goal is to move from one exercise to the next without allowing for much recovery. For example, if your strength training session comprises squats, push-ups, pull-ups, and situps, you would move from one exercise to the next without resting in between. With this type of training strategy you will not need to rest between exercises. If you move right from the squats to the pushups you can then "rest" your legs while you are pushing with your upper body. I quote rest because your heart rate may not indicate you are resting, but your legs muscles will indeed recover a bit.

The goal of circuit training is to challenge your muscles AND keep your heart rate up. Rest is allowed, but full recovery should be avoided. Keeping your heart rate up will burn calories and challenging your muscles will help to develop strength. Circuit training will not provide the same strength gains as traditional strength training, nor the same endurance gains of intense cardio. But, it will provide a mix of strength and cardio gains.

Would you like to try a simple circuit? Give this a shot:

Squats x 15

Push-ups x 10

Pull-ups (or bodyweight rows) x 5

Sit Ups x 20

Rinse and repeat this simple circuit as many times as you can in 20 minutes. Try to keep your rest to a minimum and see how many rounds you can get!

Keep it awesome!

Written by Clark Masterson

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