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Is doing a weights-only workout the best way to lose weight?

Can you ditch cardio?
weight gain
Posted at 6:11 AM, Apr 25, 2023

"Gains" is the buzzword in fitness right now — a trend to ditch the cardio and focus on strength training as a way to lose weight and build muscle. Doctors say there are real benefits to focusing on strength training but caution against stopping the cardio altogether.

"Doing more strength training will help you have more muscles and will help your bones and muscle mass," said ABC15 Health Insider Dr. Shad Marvasti.

He says a focus on strength exercises becomes more important as we get older.

"As we get into our 50s, 60s, 70s, we actually need more protein and need more strengthening exercise because that protein, lean muscle mass, is actually what helps us prevent premature aging," said Dr. Shad.

With age, our decline in muscle mass leads to falls and is linked to dementia.

For someone younger, you'll see gains with weightlifting but if anything, he says you should be increasing your cardio as well — not cutting it.

"Telling someone in their teens or 20s, 30s that they don't need cardio is setting them up for a heart attack or stroke," he said. "You have no heart health. Your blood vessels will stiffen, your blood pressure will go up, your heart won't be able to adapt."

Strength training is recommended twice a week for adults. You don't have to lift like a bodybuilder — you can use free weights, machines, or your body's own resistance. The recommendation from the American Heart Association is to get your heart rate up at least two hours a week.

Dr. Shad reminds anyone looking to manage weight with weightlifting that you can't outwork a bad diet.