It puzzles me why so few active women strength train: the benefits of weight training for fat loss far outweigh those of cardio.

Think you’re going to get big and bulky? Think again. You might be surprised to learn that lifting weights is the most efficient way to quickly gain the lean physique you are after.

The negative prejudice towards lifting weights is an all too common mis-belief that is holding women back in achieving their fitness goals. As a trainer and coach, I spend a lot of time convincing female clients to ditch the treadmill and get in the squat rack. After all, my job is to make people lean, strong and sexy in the shortest amount of time possible.

Slow Cardio Is Making You Fatter And Weaker

Let’s say you run for an hour on the treadmill and burn 300 calories. That’s less than one “healthy” muffin at Starbucks. Run for just 11 more hours, and you’ll burn a pound of fat!

On top of the minimum calorie burning that takes place during that long, slow, and boring cardio session, you can also bet that your body used some of your lean muscle for energy.

The less lean muscle you have on your body, the more fat your body will store, and the harder it will be to lose weight, or even maintain a weight you’re happy with.

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And to make it worse – your fat loss hormones are virtually unaffected by traditional cardio. You’ll experience no prolonged metabolic benefit, which means, the minimal calorie burning you spent so much time on stops shortly after you step off the treadmill.

You’ll end up slaving away for the bare minimum of results.

A much better alternative to traditional cardio, is High Intensity Interval Training – or HIIT for short. HIIT is a method of cardio during which you alternate periods of intense work (like sprinting), with periods of rest. For example, run hard for 30 seconds, walk for 60, and repeat about eight times.

Training like this taps into your fat cells and burns more calories, keeps your metabolism elevated longer, and is much more time efficient. One study showed that HIIT was nine times more effective at burning fat than traditional cardio.

HIIT is much more effective for fat loss than traditional cardio, but not quite as effective as weight lifting.

You’ll Burn A Lot More Fat

In one study on over 700 females, lifting weights for just 25 minutes three times per week led to the gain of nearly two pounds of muscle, and the loss of four pounds of fat. If you’re familiar with how physiques work, then you know that is a radical change in appearance!

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Now, picking up heavy things burns a respectable amount of calories on it’s own. No doubt about that. But that’s not why lifting weights is so effective for burning fat.

When you lift something heavy, you’re setting your body up for metabolic reactions that allow you to utilize nutrients better (like ice-cream), and continue burning calories for up to 36 hours after your workout.

There’s this thing called your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). It controls how many calories your body burns while you rest. As you gain more muscle, you increase your BMR, along with how much you can eat and still stay lean.