When to lift and when to run

CHENNAI: This is a topic I really wanted to address as I find a lot of confusion and misconceptions about how to handle workouts that include lifting weights, and how much is too much.

Benefits of bodybuilding

Women over 40 have a rapid decrease in bone density leading to osteopenia and osteoporosis. Add to this the inherent problem that Indian women have lower bone density than women of other backgrounds. However, this can be combated with strength training, as various studies show that women who exercise regularly have a significantly lower risk of osteoporosis-related problems than those who do not.

So it’s safe to say that bodybuilding and building strong muscles should be on everyone’s agenda.

How much to lift?

Targeting strength training 3 times a week for 30-40 minutes can also do wonders for overall strength and stability. You need strong muscles to protect your bones and joints, especially as you age. It is important to understand that strength training alone does not build muscle, you need to feed your body nutrient rich foods to support muscle building, otherwise the whole process is counterproductive. Without the right fuel, you’re essentially burning muscle, not building it. And that’s probably the biggest reason why people spend hours in the gym and don’t see significant results.

Benefits of Cardio

One of the questions I often get asked is, “Is cardio absolutely essential for overall health?”

The answer is not really – no high intensity cardio anyway, what is essential is movement. A non-sedentary lifestyle will bring much more benefits than running miles and miles without a plan.

Cardio, however, is a great way to make sure you’re in a calorie deficit, which will in turn lead to faster weight loss results.

So use cardio as a tool to improve your training and diet, but not as a punishment for killing your body.

How much to run?

The best way to optimize your cardio is to do it in conjunction with a strength training program. Cardio twice a week is great, and it would be a good idea to include a HIIT (high intensity interval training) session.

Another great way to ensure maximum calorie burn is to end your weight training sessions with 10 to 15 minutes of moderate cardio.

Top tips on food intake during a training program:

  • Have your protein shake before and after training – one gives you a boost, the other helps recovery

  • Eat your carbs – absolutely essential to eat your carbs in moderation. Stick to slow release carbs so nothing is processed.

  • Eat your fats – good fats are essential for burning fat. So eat your nuts and seeds which are filled with good fats.

  • Don’t starve yourself, make smarter choices instead. Keep healthy snacks on hand and always be prepared. Stock your pantry with healthy snacks.

  • Get a structured nutrition plan to optimize your workouts. It will help you achieve your goals and manage your diet in the best possible way

— Shitija aka Fit Chef is a certified nutritionist and health coach. IG @_fit_chef_ or email coachedbyfitchef@gmail.com

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