I’m getting a lot of conflicting advice about strength training and thought I’d open it up to the 'Dope. Essentially, I want to do strength training as a part of weight loss, with the main goal as increasing my metabolism, and a secondary goal of being more flexible and having more endurance (so doing aerobic exercise is a bit easier). I’m doing this for my health, so I don’t want to skip cardio if that’s what’s best for me.
However, everyone I ask seems to have a very different idea of what I should be doing exactly. I’m female, and don’t really care about bulk (but am happy to add muscle mass in order to reduce fat, if that’s what needed) or necessarily gaining a lot of physical strength.
Everyone, of course, agrees to rest for two days after each muscle group, and work different groups on different days. However, otherwise, their plans are very different.
Friend #1 is a male. He advises doing 8-12 reps at very high weight, in 2 or 3 sets, with two minute waits between each. He advises no cardio, or no more than 5 minutes of it if I insist. He claims that cardio before weight training will remove its effectiveness and possibly cause me to lose muscle mass (!). He says the same thing for doing more reps. If I want to do cardio, he says I can only do it on off days. He advises strength training four days per week and cardio, if I want, on the other days. He also insists I should be taking whey protein supplements and creatine as well, and possibly casein, and recommended a loading dose of creatine of 30g per day for several weeks in order to get more benefits. (This individual learned all of this from a somewhat serious weight lifter, but insists it will work best for my situation too.)
Friend #2 is female. She advises at least a half hour of cardio first for calorie burning and reducing the likelihood of injury by warming up the muscles. Also, she says this will improve the cardio benefit of strength training. Then, she advises doing lots of reps - 20 at a time, at least 3 sets - with lower weight. (This individual learned this method from a personal trainer.)
Friend #3 is female. She advises doing ten minutes of cardio, then ten minutes of strength training, then repeating alternately until I have 30 minutes or more of cardio and have worked all the muscle groups I want to that day. She says that doing more than 10 minutes of cardio at a time means that I won’t get as much benefit from the strength training. She also advises lots of reps at low weight.
I find all of this quite confusing. I really don’t want to be at the gym 6 or 7 days a week, but I do want to maximize the benefits I can get from exercise. I know how to eat healthily (though I don’t always do it) but I don’t feel that I truly understand what I should be doing, exercise-wise. I am also doubtful about spending a ton of money on supplements. Your help appreciated.