Back when I ran track in high school, Coach told us it was important to burn fat before you build muscle. I still remember his words of caution as he detailed the poor souls who started pumping iron in hopes of shedding some pounds only to chunk up even more. According to Coach, these gym rats were layering muscle over fat.
Ever since then, I’ve found myself heading to the treadmill before I even look at the free weights. I finally decided it was time to check up on Coach’s advice to see if this myth was true, so I called Tammy Eaton, owner of Git Fit Headquarters, to see what she thought of the lesson.
“A lot of people lose weight first then start lifting weights,” Eaton says. “That’s the wrong way to do it. As you lift weights, it actually helps you shed pounds.” According to Eaton, the key to losing weight and getting in shape is blending cardio and weight lifting, but first you need to change your diet.
“If you start lifting weights and don’t change your diet, you will think you’ve bulked up,” says Eaton. “The fat under your skin is still there, and your muscles are getting toned and stronger.” Suddenly Coach’s advice doesn’t sound so wrong, but where Coach missed his target was separating cardio and weights. “Every workout should start with light cardio to warm up your muscles,” says Eaton. From there you should lift weights and work on endurance. Do more reps with less pounds tacked on. Sorry, Coach, looks like this myth is busted!