You know the “calories burned” tracker on treadmills?
It’s actually pretty accurate.
But here’s what it’s not telling you:
It’s impossible to get a lean body from just running.
If you want a lean body, you gotta lift some weights. Or at least push, pull or carry something. Running, by itself, isn’t enough.
Let me explain why.
But first, here’s a scene that’s probably familiar.
Running off dinner
Ever travel for work? For me, it was the same thing every time.
After a long day of meetings, my team would grab dinner.
A HUGE dinner.
Afterwards, someone would say, “Oh man. I’m gonna have to run five miles to burn this meal off.”
Everyone believed that. Because as business professionals, we thought we knew everything!.
So there I would go, running five miles the next morning to burn off dinner.
And this was in addition to the five miles I was dragging myself through on the weekends. I thought running would get me that six pack I coveted (and once had).
Oh how I was wrong…
I can stop running: The happy realization
It always felt like I was running on a path to nowhere.
Sure, I was usually on a treadmill and technically was. 🙂
But when I discovered I could run 90% less and get 9x the results, I was ecstatic.
And the science behind needing to lift weights to get a lean body is so simple.
Here’s what it says:
Two hours vs. two days
When you exercise, your metabolism speeds up. Even when you’re done exercising, it stays elevated.
Some call this basal metabolic rate (BMR) or the closely related resting metabolism rate (RMR).
For simplicity, we’ll just call it your metabolism.
In essence, it speeds up to work harder and faster to turn food into energy for your body.
The faster your metabolism runs and the longer it runs at that fast pace, the less amount of energy is stored as fat.
Even more simply, you burn more when you need more. Otherwise, it saves it for later.
But here’s the thing:
Not all exercise is created equal.
Let’s compare two workouts:
1. Running for 30 minutes. After this workout, your metabolism speeds up for two hours.
2. Lifting weights for 30 minutes. After this workout, your metabolism speeds up for up to two days.
That’s right, people.
Two hours vs two days.
Wanna know why this happens?
Shred muscle, rebuild, repeat
When you lift weights, you essentially are breaking down muscle fibers.
Broken down muscle fibers is a good thing.
Afterwards, your body works hard to repair and rebuild said muscles. Usually, they come back slightly bigger. (Yay!)
But it takes a lot of energy to repair those shredded muscles.
Any idea where you get that energy?
Yep, your food.
So, since there’s work to do (rebuild muscle after lifting weights) the metabolism goes into over-drive to get proteins and energy for repair. Two days is usually the amount of time your body needs to repair these muscles.
Once again, two days of faster metabolism comes from lifting weights.
Running, by comparison, does not shred your muscles like lifting weights does. Hence, the relatively brief, 2-hour boost in metabolism.
That’s why runners sometimes look “skinny-fat.” People who are “skinny-fat” are not overweight. They’re usually pretty fit. But, their metabolism is relatively lower and therefore more likely to store excess energy as fat. Usually, it becomes belly fat. Thus, they’re fit, but not lean.
So lifting weights gets you lean in ways running (alone) cannot.
But is lifting for everyone?
Women and lifting weights: Do not worry
When women hear the importance of lifting weights to get a lean body, they say the same thing:
“I am a woman. I want to look a woman. I don’t want to look ripped like a man.”
Well, ladies, you’re in luck.
Unless you ARE a man, there’s no way for you to develop masculine muscle mass. It’s biologically impossible. You do not have enough testosterone. The body-building women you see in magazines don’t have enough natural testosterone, either. They add it, usually with needles.
But, ladies, when you step off the treadmill and do some weight lifting, here’s what you CAN expect:
- Toned arms.
- Flat belly.
- Tight, sexy butt and legs.
And, as a bonus, you’ll probably lose some extra flab off your chin and neck.
Pretty cool, huh?
So what can guys expect to get from lifting weights?
Men: Lifting weights is the secret to 6-pack abs
You can buy all the gimmicky 6-pack abs products you want. Whether it’s a physical product, an e-book, or online course, it doesn’t matter.
The bottom line is this:
To get your 6-pack abs to show, you gotta shed the belly fat covering them.
To shed the belly fat, you gotta shred your muscles, namely your legs, shoulders and chest.
When you lift weights and focus on shredding those aforementioned muscles, your metabolism goes WAY up.
Eventually, the belly fat will melt away.
Every guy has a six pack.
Yes, even you.
You just gotta take it out from hiding.
Sure, you shouldn’t be eating bread, either, if you want your 6-pack.
But you gotta lift some weights, too.
New to lifting weights?
There are a few things you can do if you’re new to lifting weights.
Here are some ideas, least to most expensive:
- Buddy up. Have a friend who knows how to lift weights show you the way. They’ll be thrilled.
- Prisoner routine. Try the routine I used while traveling. All you need is a duffle bag and a chair. Email me for details.
- Get a video. They usually don’t require any weights. A resistance band is all you need. P90x or Insanity has worked wonders for many.
- Join a gym. They all have group sessions you can join for free.
- Get a trainer. They’ll walk you through every step of the way.
Certainly, many of you are thinking up more excuses to these suggestions on how to lift weights (or even exercise at all).
Well, here’s my answer to that.
Lift yourself now
So you don’t have weights, can’t get a DVD, or have some other excuse?
There’s a zero-weights, zero-trainer way to lift weights. I’m sure you’ve heard of them.
Push-ups and squats.
In more detail, here’s your “weight-lifting” routing.
1. Push-ups. 2x per week. Four sets of 12.
2. Squats. 2x per week. Four sets of 12.
There should be no excuse. Everybody has a floor and some space to do this body weight lifting routine.
Questions? Email me.
But be sure you don’t make THIS common mistake when you first lift weights.
Baby steps before lifting weights
For some, the entire notion of lifting weights is scary. Maybe you’ve never done it. Or, maybe it’s physically impossible because you’re THAT of shape.
Whatever it is, go slow when you begin.
Make one small change.
- Take the stairs.
- Do calf raises during meetings.
- Load your own suitcase.
- Push the lawn mower (as pictured above)
- Use a basket at the grocery store (instead of a cart).
Just lift or push or carry something.
You won’t believe how good you’ll feel afterwards.
You don’t need to give up running completely.
In fact, you shouldn’t.
Cardiovascular exercise is good for your heart.
But if you swap 80% of your run for fast-paced, vigorous weight lifting (of any kind!), you’ll get an equivalent amount of cardio and the lean body of your dreams.
“Clinical guidelines on the identification, evaluation, and treatment of overweight and obesity in adults: Executive summary. Expert Panel on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight in Adults”. The American journal of clinical nutrition 68 (4): 899–917. 1998
“Hormonal and metabolic response to three types of exercise of equal duration and external work output.” Vanhelder, W. P.; Radomski, M. W.; Goode, R. C.; Casey, K. (1985). European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology