1 March 2007
Resistance Training and Weightloss
Posted by Brad Hefta-Gaub under: Cycle; Diet; Fitness; Flexibility; Friends; Ironman; Marathons; Run; Strength Training; Stretching; Swim; Weightloss; Yoga; exercise; fixed gear; fixie; single-speed; sports injuries; triathlon.
I got an email today from someone who heard about my fitness journey, and had some questions about how I got more fit while avoiding the weight room.
HI. First of all, congratulations on your achievements!
You said you started off with a 36% BF and now are below 20%, how did you do that without any weighlifting? I assume based on what your goals are that you do not try to stay within the BF burning HR zone while training. Did you just build a lot of musle in your legs to lower your BF %? I have lost 70 lbs and my BF % lowered only about 1 or 2% and I am still around 34%.
Let me first say congratulations to this reader. It’s really great that he has lost 70lbs, and has obviously made a commitment to changing to a healthier lifestyle. But he asks a good question and touches on a couple concepts I’ve heard a lot about… “fat burning zone”… can you get healthy without weight training… etc.
Here is my reply to this email…
Congratulations on losing 70lbs. That is awesome. I hope you are proud of what you’ve accomplished, you should be!
This was my first 3 months of “getting fit”… then I sort of took up other things like scuba diving and just playing with my kids… I didn’t get “out of fitness” but I hadn’t yet been bitten by the endurance sports bug. It this point I expect that my body fat was lower, but still pretty high, I had lost weight, but I didn’t really have any muscles.
About 6 months later, I started cycling outdoors. I got a bike and just started riding it… alot. I spent the next year and a half really getting into that. I rode probably 6,000 miles in that first year and a half. My legs got more muscular, but it wasn’t really noticeable. The rest of my body was still pretty soft. I tried to do some strength training because, every coach will tell you that you should… but I never got into it. I just loved to ride my bike, but I hated being in the weight room, so I didn’t do it.
So this was around Dec 2004, and I was down to around 140lbs, I’d kept my weight off, and I got my body fat officially tested using the “dunk tank” method. My body fat came back at 26%. I don’t know if that was correct, because I had a very hard time getting all the air out of my lungs during the test. I don’t know if you’ve done these “dunk tank” tests, but they were not fun for me. Note, 26% sounded right to me, I felt pretty soft and round, but some of my friends thought it was way too high.
A couple months later, I join a new gym, and so as part of the free initial consult I got my body fat tested again, this time by the caliper method. This time it came back 14%. Which also was clearly wrong in the opposite direction. There’s no way in 3 months I dropped 12% body fat. Plus it was obvious that I didn’t have a lot of muscles.
About 6 months later (Nov 2005) I decided to take on running and consider taking on Ironman triathlon, and after an injury, ended up having to adjust my training so I kept cycling… BUT… I discovered SPIN CLASS. This was a great discovery. It was cycling related but I had a great coach/teacher, who made the class really fun. This class actually does add “resistance” training to cycling. And so you do get a chance to build muscles up… and I found it to be much more fun than weight lifting. You can read more about it in this post on my blog:
Did you realize this reply was going to be so long? But wait… there’s more.
Ok, fast forward to spring 2006, I’m fully in the swing of training for my Ironman Triathlete. I’ve training lots, swimming, running, cycling. I’m doing spin class. I try to do weights, but again, I just don’t like it so I don’t stick with it. But spin class and running are both good resistance training, and so my legs are becoming more and more muscular. I end up getting some good “actually visible” muscle tone in my legs… but not the rest of my body.
I got my body fat tested again, this time using something called the “BodPod”… this was cool. It is similar to the “dunk tank” method, where they measure your body volume, but it uses an “air chamber” instead of water. Anyway, I haven’t seen it again, but I’m convinced it’s the most error free method of really doing a body fat measurement. This time my body fat came back at 16%. And this I believe is probably correct.
This year I am doing weights more regularly. I have a friend who loaned me his weight set, and he and I are working out together. It’s easier to stay motivated with a friend. But I also got myself a new bicycle that is single-speed/fixed gear… and so that’s also helping with resistance training. And I am doing much more running this year. All of these new things have really helped out… I have much better muscle definition in the last several months. But I am still a long ways away from having “a hard body”.
So… I guess if you made it to the end of this message, then you know everything I did to get to where I am… for the most part I got here with just cardio… but when you’re out in the outdoors running or riding a bike, you can’t help but hit a hill, and that is good enough resistance training to build muscles.
-Brad “el ZappoMan”