Is Cardio Making Your Butt Bigger?
If You're Adding Resistance to Your Cardio Machine, YES!
As a former bodybuilder who went on to own a gym, I have spent more than my share of time around weight machines and the one thing that always amazes me is how people will take a perfectly effective, scientifically designed, thoroughly adequate exercise machine and adapt it thinking "more is more."
In fact, more is more is one of the worst philosophies to have when exercising because, in fact, when you do it right less is actually more; less time, less effort, less weight, less often -- IF you follow the rules and give it your all each time.
Unfortunately, everyone is so busy multi-tasking in every other part of their lives -- eating while in the car, taking a conference call on your morning commute, with multiple windows open on every computer screen -- that we naturally think we must do the same at the gym.
So I see people barely using any weight and trying to perform an exercise while talking on the cell phone. They use the gym more as a time to socialize than for what they are meant to do there: lift weights! While others do the same workout every time (with no break in the routine): they come in and go down the circuit of machines in the same order and then decide, "Well, that's it; workout's over and I feel good! Time for a post-workout smoothie . . . "
Resistance training (free weights, stationary weight machine, etc.) can be a fabulous way to build muscle, boost your metabolism, increase toned muscle mass and increase your overall health. Likewise, cardio exercise (Stairmaster, exercise cycle, treadmill, etc.) can increase your heart rate, burn fat and expend calories quickly.
So naturally, you might think, combining the two is the surest way to both build muscle and burn fat, get your heart rate up and expend lots of calories fast. But, in fact, doing more when it comes to resistance and cardio actually produces less results. That's because when exercising you should put like with like.
In other words, a great resistance workout can produce much better results when you concentrate purely on resistance, focusing on the tension of the weight, the number of sets and reps, really feeling the burn and completely focused on those main goals of resistance, i.e. building muscle and boosting metabolism.
Likewise, a great cardiovascular workout should focus strictly on cardio to produce maximum results. The last thing you want to be doing while running around the neighborhood is fiddling with your weight straps or figuring out how to drink from your water bottle in one hand while adjusting your easy-grip, five-pound barbells in the other! So when it comes to exercise, put like with like; resistance, resistance, resistance, cardio, cardio, cardio -- not resistance, cardio, resistance or cardio, resistance, cardio.
I see this drastic mistake at the gym all the time. I see people, especially women, on a stair stepper machine, who add resistance thinking, "Wow, my butt (glutes) and legs are getting a hard workout." And they are, but the fact of the matter is this is a counterproductive way to perform cardio.
In fact, this is using a method of weight training called "time under tension" and what it will do is force the body to store more glycogen -- and possibly fat -- to the lower half of your body -- actually making your butt bigger, because your body has to know how to anticipate the load, so the body says, "We need help; store more there!"
And that sure isn't the reason why you are doing cardio in the first place, right? So remember to use no resistance when doing cardio and only apply resistance when weight-training. One of the best methods I teach my clients to burn the most amount of fat is do a method called 1:2s.
For example, after warming up for about 5 minutes first, get on a treadmill and do one minute quick-paced and 2 minutes at a slow pace. (The treadmill should be set with no incline and, to make this exercise most effective, try not to hold on.)
This method, called the HIIT method (High Intensity Interval Training), is the best method for burning fat and, if you are doing weights in the same session, make sure to do weight training first and cardio last to get the most fat burning results out of your workout. Remember, like with like: resistance with resistance, cardio with cardio for the most effective results every time.
©2009 Wendy Chant, author of Conquer the Fat-Loss Code
The articles on this site are authoritative, because:
Where an article is not bylined with a specific author's name, it was written by Mark Lamendola (see photos on home page and elsewhere on this site). Mark is a 4th degree blackbelt, has not been sick since 1971, and has not missed a workout since 1977. Just an example of how Mark knows what he's talking about: In his early 50s, Mark demonstrated a biceps curl using half his body weight. That's a Jack LaLanne level stunt. Few people can even come close. If you want to know how to build a strong, beautiful body, read the articles here.
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