When you’re in your teens, eating that extra slice of pie and having the extra large scoop of ice cream on the side typically ain’t no thang. When we’re growing at that rate, we can go do some homework and the effort of erasing a mistake will have helped overcome our indulgence. As we get older, however, our metabolism slows down. It’s just a natural part of life; as we get older, everything(not just your driving speed) slows down.
Typically a great way I use to demonstrate this to people is, “You know how you’ve been using the treadmill/elliptical for years and it was fine? It’s stopped being fine lately, hasn’t it?” Well that’s because hours and hours of cardio teaches our body to shed as much muscle mass as possible because it wants to stop hemorrhaging all those calories your muscles are burning. Muscle mass takes a lot of calories to maintain and your body, being the way it is, doesn’t like that.
A long time ago, it used to be we didn’t know when our next meal was coming and our bodies needed to be as energy efficient as possible. Too many burned calories on useless muscle meant Deadsville, population:you. Unfortunately, our bodies still haven’t realized that the supermarket is right down the street. It still tries to get rid of muscle mass because it wants to keep you alive, god bless its soul.
So why do we want that muscle mass in the first place?
Ladies and gentleman, I introduce you to your Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR. BMR is how many calories your body burns just by being there in a day. Couple this with our activity level and you have your Total Daily Energy Expenditure or TDEE
This is really important for several reasons. As I said, as we get older, our metabolism slows down. This is because after 25, the average person begins to lose about 1/2 a pound of muscle a year yet still gains about a pound in total bodyweight. So we git a bit softer, our metabolism slows down and we don’t look quite as good as we did the year before. To make sure you get the point
We get fatter, our muscles start to relax and we get soft looking.
This is bad, both looks wise and health wise. Obviously, we all want to look good naked when it comes right down to it, right? Plus, who wants to breathe heavy simply because we went up a flight up steps? Well, maybe sumo wrestlers are cool with it, but we aren’t!
Couple our aging bodies with tons of cardio and we’re really setting ourselves up for failure. The best way to bring out the inner sexy is, no surprise, lifting weights. I know everyone loves “toning” workouts but toning, used in that sense, is a bit of a nonsense word. Using a weight that is light enough to lift more than 15 times is essentially doing a cardio workout for your body; you’re not giving your body any reason to become stronger or change how it looks and it’s really just looking to shed muscle mass instead. Toning, in the sense that people actually mean it however, is both the reduction in fat surrounding your body as well as the restoration of the muscle mass and muscle tautness; your muscles become more defined and tight and now there’s no fat covering them up so they can show off a bit.
Furthermore, weight training and similar high intensity exercise(interval training) burns fat hours after a workout is complete. This is because your muscles work very hard and expend a lot of energy during the workout, but also because you literally create microscopic tears in your muscle fiber when you weight train. This trauma puts a large caloric load on your body and takes time to recover from, hence hours later, you are still burning calories.
On top of that, increasing muscle mass also raises your BMR if you didn’t get that part by now. You can be 40 and burning more calories than a typical 25 year old because your body is has to support the increased caloric load of the added muscle to your body. Now this isn’t humongous; I’ve seen claims of 50 extra calories burned for every pound of muscle. It’s actually closer to 5 but that’s 5 extra calories for every pound coupled with the fact that if you increase your activity level, your body has to keep giving extra calories to your muscles rather than fat that just sits there.
As I’ve stated elsewhere, cardio is overrated for fat loss. Yes, it’s great when coupled with a solid weight training routine, but you need to lift weights if you want to reshape your body and change how you look. So keep upping your BMR and your TDEE and you’ll be looking SEXY in the GYM