cardio & weights

You probably already know that I turn to video fitness professionals for my cardio and weight training. Cathe Friedrich probably has THE MOST expansive collection of weight and advanced cardio dvds on the market.  (And I've done pretty much all of them :) )  So I look to Cathe for the expertise on the benefits of strength training and for various weight lifting techniques.  She also offers cardio workouts in the forms from Tabata,  HIIT and Spinning to Step Training and Kickboxing.

I'll review these workouts from time  to time on the blog, but for now, I'd like to share some bits from Cathe's fitness articles on the benefits of these various approaches.  You can click on each title for the full article:
Lifting heavy weights not only increases muscle definition, but it helps you burn more fat even when you’re not sweating it out at the gym. There are two reasons for this. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat tissue. Having an extra pound of muscle burns  additional calories each day even when you’re just sitting in a chair. Who doesn’t want that? Then there’s the after-burn. When you challenge your muscles by lifting heavy weights, you activate key hormones that help your body burn more fat even after you’ve finished your last weight-lifting set. This increased rate of calorie burn continues for up to 24-hours after a weight training session.
Compound exercises are a timesaver because you’re working multiple muscle groups at once. Think of all the muscles you’re targeting when you do a squat – your thigh muscles, buttocks, hips, hamstrings and quads all get a workout. It would take a number of isolation movements to get the benefits that a few sets of squats will give you. If you have a limited time to exercise, stick with compound movements and save the isolation exercises for a day when you have more time to devote to a workout. Compound exercises have a greater metabolic effect. Compound exercises, especially movements like squats and deadlifts that target large muscle groups, elicit more of a hormonal response than isolation exercises. The greater release of testosterone creates an anabolic effect to stimulate muscle protein synthesis, while growth hormone boosts fat oxidation for greater fat loss. You don’t get the same metabolic benefits from isolation exercises. You can maximize the metabolic response even more by limiting rest time between sets.
Lifting light weights doesn’t place the kind of stress on muscle you need to build mass, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t benefits to training with light weights. When you use light weights and do higher reps, you get more of an endurance workout. Your heart rate rises, and if you do it without resting between sets, light weight training has cardiovascular benefits. This is especially true if you do compound exercises that work more than one muscle group at a time. When you get your heart rate up, you burn more calories
What are the benefits of improving muscle endurance using lighter weights and more reps? For one, muscle endurance is important if you participate in certain sports or if you swim or cycle. Without good muscle endurance, your arms or legs will fatigue more quickly.
Metabolic weight training burns more calories – and keeps your metabolism elevated even after you’ve finished your workout. It’s a great way to blast away stubborn fat that’s hiding those beautiful muscles – so you’ll look more defined.
Metabolic weight training involves doing strength training compound exercises with minimal rest between sets. Because you’re rapidly moving from set-to-set, your heart rate stays up, and you get more of a hormonal response. This means fat-burning hormones such as growth hormones, norepinephrine and adrenalin are released in greater quantities, which is the key to fat loss.
Functional strength training trains muscles to work together rather than focusing on a single muscle group. When you bend over to pick something up you recruit muscles in your core, lower body and upper body to do the work. Functional strength exercises teach these muscles to work as a coordinated unit to make every day movements that require strength and coordination easier. Isolation exercises such as biceps curls strengthen individual muscles, but they don’t train muscles to work functionally together.
Doing an hour of moderate cardio a day probably will help you slim down, but it’s not the most efficient strategy. A review of recent research, published in the Journal of Obesity in November 2010, found HIIT appears to be more effective for reducing body fat than other types of exercise, including steady state cardio. [1] Exactly why HIIT works better is still up for debate, but one reason may be its effect on your metabolism. HIIT workouts raise your metabolic rate, the rate at which you burn calories while at rest, more than slower cardio and keep it raised longer.
Not everyone is suited for interval training. You need to be in good health and at a certain fitness level before maxing out. Steady-state cardio is a good alternative for beginners who aren’t ready for higher intensity training. Steady-state cardio still burns significant calories and fat, although this will usually decrease over time as the body adapts. It also “teaches” your body to better use fat as a fuel source. You may burn more fat as a percentage of total fuel with cardio, but you don’t burn as many total calories or benefit from the after-burn.If you like the stress-reducing benefits of exercise and enjoy doing something aerobic every day, steady-state cardio may be a better choice.
Like I said -- Cathe's the expert.  Happy Reading! 

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