Q*: I would like to lose another 20 pounds. I run 3 or 4 times a week, and will soon be training to run a half marathon. I am a 45 year old woman and my job is pretty sedentary, even though I stand most of my day. I know that as I get closer to the goal weight that things could slow down. I would just like to set myself up for success. I know that I should be lifting, but I really don't want to. Can I still reach my goals without strength training?
A: I won't say that you need to do something that you truly don't want to, if that's what you're expecting. But…first hear me out, so that you can understand what you're up against.
As you've likely have heard, there are huge benefits of strength training that have nothing to do with your outward physique. But since the question pertains specifically to your physique goals, I will only address that aspect:
- First of all, there's nothing inherently wrong with doing cardio (presuming you're not doing a reset), and many cardio lovers have found ways to be successful with EM2WL. The key for them has been in including lifting (and even bulk cycles), for greater physique goal success.
- When you choose to do cardio only, you're left as merely a smaller version of your current self. With all the same lumps and bumps in the same areas. Combine aging with excessive cardio and dieting, and it's a recipe for muscle loss. Losing muscle makes you “skinny fat.” This means that you will have to go DOWN in weight each year, just to look the same as you did the year before. As you can see, over time, this could become problematic. So your goal weight will need adjustment if you're looking for a specific “look” and only doing cardio…and even then, it's not so certain that you'll get it.
- Muscle is what gave us our former youthful look. Without it, we will begin to look bigger, and hence older (even if we stayed the exact same weight that we were in our youth). Lifting will not only keep that youthful tightness of the body, but also allow you to hit your goal WITHOUT having to lose so much weight.
- The other thing with doing cardio only is that our body adapts to cardio. So if you're doing a lot, then at one point you may not be eating enough for your super high burns, but over time, that amount will become too much as your body adapts to the activity to become more efficient. So you'll be doing the exact same amount of work, yet burning much less calories.
- It actually does your metabolism a disservice over time. You don't want to get to the point that your body views running 10-15 miles, the same as going to check your mailbox: just part of the routine, and thus no changes being made.
It's fine if running is your passion and you want to do it no matter the physique consequence (as many runners will do). If you want to get smaller, then you should fully understand how running only will play into the picture.
I'd highly recommend mixing some lifting into your routine.
Our motto, “cardio for fun, weights to transform.” If you abide by that, then you can still do the cardio that you love, simply for enjoyment. But if you really want to transform your body, allow the iron to assist you.
With all that said…if you still aren't feeling weight lifting, then I would keep close eye on your heart rate monitor. If you notice that you are burning less calories than you used to, then you are likely eating too much, and will have to continue to adjust accordingly.
Have fun in your half marathon!
How about you fam? Any tips for a newbie that's not into lifting? Are you reaching your physique goals with cardio only? Have you had to make any adjustments in order to keep progressing?
*Q & A posts are excerpts from actual submitted emails from clients and fam. Have a question that you'd like to see addressed in Q & A or explained in a future article? Drop us a line below!