Insanity’s Cardio or P90X Weight Training?
If weight loss is the ultimate aim, should you concentrate more on cardio workouts or strength training?
This issue has been hotly debated for many years now with reams of articles, blogs, studies devoted to finding out the truth. However, most would agree that the real answer is both!
What’s all the debate about?
In fact, how fast you lose weight is as much a function of your lifestyle, namely eating habits, as it is of the manner in which you train. The terms cardio and weight training started competing with each other in an era when the former was meant to convey the idea of losing weight through aerobic exercises like running or cycling while the latter was all about spending time pushing weight in the gym.
The scene has drastically changed now as almost every modern workout program incorporates a mix of cardio and weight training. And very often, many programs bundle them together in the same training session. This is simply because cardio and weight training are no longer isolated and exclusive forms of exercises. Resistance training is an intrinsic part of most cardio workouts; either through plyometric movements or adding extra weights. And since modern weight training follows the circuit approach, the cardio element finds its way into it.
Busting some age old myths
Before delving deeper into the benefits of combining cardio and weight training in your exercise regimen, it’s important to clear the two myths that men and women usually believe for cardio and weight training respectively. Although there might be exceptions, most male fans of weight training tend to believe that cardio doesn’t rate high for exercise. And women lean towards a view that lifting weights might make them bulky. Both are misconceptions and do not have any scientific basis to them.
For example, although low-intensity cardio for prolonged periods of time can cause muscle wastage, modern cardio training is neither low-intensity nor prolonged. On the contrary, it’s a healthy mix of aerobic as well as anaerobic (weights) training; a combination that surely adds to your muscle content. Circuit style weight training ensures a high heart rate throughout the workout, which is what cardio is all about.
Wait until you see the all new P90X3 workout this winter!
As for the second myth regarding women bulking up, this is fantasy. There are very few women who lift heavy enough or extensive enough to bulk up. P90X will make you stronger and it will add muscle, but it’s very unlikely that you will get “bulky”. I find this line of reasoning the most frustrating because I think it’s just an excuse not to do something. However, it’s important to know that whenever the body is subjected to any type of highly intense training initially, it can retain water. This is due to the excess release of a hormone known as cortisol by your body. Many misinterpret this as their body gaining excess bulk when all its doing is just getting used to the new training regimen. This is something that happens when you try to lose or gain weight and there is almost no effect on your overall muscle mass. As soon as your body gets habituated to the training, it ceases the excess cortisol release and subsequently, the extra water is flushed out from the body. Do a month of P90X and then make the judgement. I guarantee you will not bulk up unless you decide to fuel up on milkshakes.
How to Lose Weight Using Both Methods?
The best method to start losing weight is to create and follow a system that emphasizes on solid training and a healthy lifestyle. A good system is one that pays equal attention to your workout, diet, supplements and most importantly, rest/sleep. You fall short on any one of these aspects and your weight loss targets are sure to be missed.
Losing weight will be made much easier by changing your metabolism. Although altering your metabolic rate can be quicker with weight training when compared to cardio, a healthy mix of both will be perfect. The key here lies in the intensity of your workouts. An intense workout pushes your body in to an anaerobic zone, where it needs to secrete performance-boosting hormones to sustain. If you manage to do this to your body consistently enough, your metabolism will change for the better.
With proper breaks between these intense anaerobic weight training workouts, you also ensure your body gets a proper cardio workout. By following a good circuit program that is high on intensity with decent resting phases, your body benefits from both weight training as well as cardiovascular exercises.
Having said that, how your body responds to this inclusive training is hugely dependent on what you eat and how much you rest. Both play an important role in repairing your body. Not paying enough attention to diet and rest can lead to illness, injury, lack of results and even muscle wastage. If you want to lose weight at a decent pace, make sure to eat and sleep better!
In the end, how much weight you’ll lose has almost no correlation to whether your workouts concentrate on cardiovascular or weight training. Both are equally important in addition to the three other factors viz. pushing your body to its limits (high intensity), healthy eating to help the body recover, and decent amounts of breaks during training. Master these aspects and enjoy the pleasure of your body dropping off the excess pounds!
Both Insanity and P90X come with nutrition guides. I recommend signing up for a free Beachbody account and using the online tools. You’ll find Meal Planners, Nutrition Tips, Recipes and support.