What is the best workout for women? Strength vs. Cardio

Lets talk about the very best workouts for women…

 What burns the most fat? What will get me the shape I want? What will help me stay feeling energized and fit? What exercise will not take up all of my time?

To answer what is the very best option for women, we should answer the following question first…

 

Cardio vs. Strength Training?! kb1

I know you have asked this question. You have. Even the fittest and smartest people have at one point wondered;

 What is more important? What do I do? How do I make time?

The truth is that we all want to be healthy, strong and we all want to take the right, and most effective and efficient steps to build our body. So I decided it’s time for a little discussion on this topic:

Exercise is/was traditionally placed into two categories: strength training and “cardio”.  In reality there is vast elaboration that can and should be made with both of these terms. However one thing is clear, in today’s world the two terms are consistently misunderstood and mis-used. Of course we all know what happens when we mis-use something; we either hurt ourselves or stunt our progress, then we get frustrated and give up.

Now the term cardio is interchangeable with the term ‘aerobic’ exercise, generally a steady state, low-to-intermediate intensity exercise regiment that uses a lower form of fuel (mostly fat) as energy. However while this for of exercise; jogging, fast walking, hiking, elliptical or a slower paced aerobics class begins to use mostly fat as fuel approximately twenty-thirty minutes into the workout, it has little effect of fat burning after the exercise is done. Strength training, or anaerobic exercise is traditionally the contrast, and has an incredible metabolic effect on the body after the session is complete and for a potential 24-48 afterwards. Remember muscle needs more energy to live! So we can look at building lean muscle as a way to get rid of fat (and keep it off).  Another benefit of strength training is that muscle shapes and strengthens our bodies and creates the great looking firm figure we all long for.

So what’s a girl (or guys) to do? 
Do you split it up? Do you spend two hours at the gym every day?  Luckily- NO.

One of my mentors once told me:   More is never better. Better is better. 

So what is better? lets dig deeper and find out…
In training, especially strength training form and smart intensity is what matter most! If you over train or take your workouts for granted and not follow a program  you will actually start breaking your body down, a bi-product of bad training is injury, a lack of results, a lack of energy and fat storage.
The idea of ‘cardio’ was born in he 1970’s, and guys- a lot has changed! Studies are consistently showing that you DO NOT need to isolate ‘cardio’. Now, we are not saying you shouldn’t go out and go for a run (if thats what you love, or a swim or even dancing) those are all important to keep in our regiment because they off set all those static hours of sitting, those are your active activities- do them! Remember, getting up to move in anyway you enjoy is awesome! However to build and sculpt and attain the exact body you want- not just in pounds but in look and feel, we are glad to say that you no longer have to isolate elliptical machines and weights, nor do you have to spend countless hours in the gym.

Enter MetCon 

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Metabolic conditioning refers to a structured set of work to rest periods, often mimicking the stop-go nature of sports. The concept is to use these rest  and work periods, structured differently for various results and workout regiments to get a desired response from the body. Specifically by asking the body to use a desired energy pathway (discussed below). Remember the variety of work-to-rest periods in your training, just like your more steady state training calls for specific energy pathways to be used during the workout. Now those energy pathways make the body adapt in specific ways, creating a desired result.

*If you have ever taken a Kettlebell Kickboxing class or home fitness workout, like our Scorcher Series, Body Series or 7 Day Lean programs you would understand how this works.

We love metabolic training! In fact we love it so much, we include forms of met-con through every single home fitness program we offer. The key for us is to provide it in great variety, so that the body never adapts and is always challenged by the motions, intervals and combos.

Our Body Series uses a 40/20 principle which is ideal for beginners and those looking to get MetCon and strength training results at a good yet safe intensity for all levels. The Scorcher Series and 7 day Lean push Metabolic conditioning a little further with a great variety of HIIT options, The 7DL has the most time interval options of any of our programs, and unlike our other DVDs uses body weight only (no kettlebell).  Yet every DVD provides a complete beginner option! 

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Click HERE to read about our favorite Metabolic Conditioning home program the Scorcher Series or, here is

More Science…   

You use different energy systems/ pathways to perform and sustain different activities. That along with building healthy muscle and good length tension-relationships in the body is how we all achieve desired results.

Phosphate pathway is used during power training, or powerful high level motions. This system only kicks in for approximately the first 10 seconds of the work phase. (An good example is lifting a super heavy bar of weight overhead, like an olympic lift).

The Creatine phosphate pathway provides fuel for your body during 1-3 minutes of high intensity work- just think of all the HIIT rounds we do in our workouts! Now if we think about the fuel you use here, its likely that your body will tap into your carb storage, so if you had a bagel in the morning your body is using that carbohydrate as fuel here.

Now, finally we have the aerobic system/ pathway, this is your long lasting fuel. However while this pathway can sustain you, it will sustain light, moderate to intermediate forms of intensity (it will not sustain an hour of sprinting, hence why you can not sprint for an hour straight- nor should you). Now this pathway will start to turn over to using primarily fats as fuel at about 20-30 minutes into the activity. This is why traditional studies and training will tell you to stay on your elliptical machine for over 45 minutes at a low to moderate pace- it’s called ‘fat burning zone’. Don’t worry- because of the duration of the KB classes and DVDs, active rests and because you are activating and building muscle in our programs you are undoubtably burning fat.

Now I know that this might all seem like a lot of stuff. It seems almost that to gain results you have to do all of these variations, including lift weight, do moderate aerobic training for an hours, then include high intensity stuff! Who has the time?

The good news is that you do not! There is always a cross-over between these systems, your body will never just use one form of fuel. Even better news is that metabolic conditioning and strength training can be combined in most cases (exceptions would be very sports specific training for professional athletes). The other great news? Metabolic training builds muscle (which burns fat) and also at various time and intervals keeps you you between an elevated and steady state of work, providing the benefits of most of these energy pathways!

Questions answered? In the world of best exercise for women, clearly a Cardio & Strength Training PROGRAM takes the cut! and has been consistently shown to produce the greatest amount of results!

Please feel free to post your thought/ questions below!

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