Important Update: Calorie Count will be shutting down on March 15th. Please click here to read the announcement. Data export is available.
Moderators: melkor

Is it more beneficial to use lower wieghts with more reps or more weight with less reps?  I like the circuit training machines but if I raise the Weights to the next level I can't do nearly as many reps.

I have been going to the gym since Feb. 1st and have tried both methods but would like to know from experienced people which is better

Another question I have is..treadmill or elliptical?  I have used both also, elliptical says it burns more calories than treadmill, but I see more people on the treadmill, why?
34 Replies (last)

My understanding is more weight will be more beneficial for increasing strength.

What if gaining strength isn't my main goal/  I am 45 yrs female trying to lost about 20 lbs?

 I'm about your age and we tend to lose more muscle the older we get. Strength training increases your muscle and bone mass and your overall metabolism. Being strong and having muscle is a good thing. You will not bulk up increasing the weight on the machines. It might be harder when you first increase but your body will adapt. I would suggest that you do what is comfortable but still challenging. More weight and a fair amount of reps will help you continue to build muscle tissue. Low weight many reps... is toning and endurance. In the long run having more muscle tissue will help you burn more calories during your daily activities.

I don't know why people like the treadmill. They might be training for race. Some people just like to run instead I think.

thanks Nina!  I'm glad to hear that.  I can tell I am gaining more muscle..just not losing much weight. I have been pushing for more weights with less reps (just because I wanna feel the pain for getting this overweight in a year).  I know I definitely sweat a whole lot more on the elliptical set at a higher level than I ever do on the treadmill.  I didn't know if there was an advantage to the treadmill that my common sense didn't tell me.
Original Post by ninav:

 Low weight many reps... is toning and endurance.

 Low weight many reps is only good for muscle endurance. Toning is the continuous and passive partial contraction of the muscles - nothing to do with appearance. Endurance won't change the appearance.

OK Amethystgirl,  I want the toning too  but i could use a change in appearance!! especially triceps and thighs.  You just told me to up the weights for a change in that.  Thanks

Lifting heavier weights will help you look better and preserve more muscle while you lose fat.  But the reps/weight equation almost surely isn't the biggest factor if your weight loss is stuck.

To figure that out, it would help for you to share some basic information:

* what was your weight on February 1st, and what is it now
* how tall are you?
* how many calories are you eating per day? do you keep track?
* how often per week do you work out, and for how long?

Original Post by cindyr63:

Is it more beneficial to use lower wieghts with more reps or more weight with less reps? I like the circuit training machines but if I raise the Weights to the next level I can't do nearly as many reps.

It depends on your body, and your goals.  There is no perfect answer, and no one rep scheme or weight philosophy that works for everyone.  Think about your goals, and your diet, and tailor your weight workout to fit those, and good luck!

Original Post by cindyr63:

Another question I have is..treadmill or elliptical? I have used both also, elliptical says it burns more calories than treadmill, but I see more people on the treadmill, why?

I don't understand the fascination with the treadmill either!!  If I want to walk or run I'll do it outside in the fresh air and enjoy the scenery- the elliptical is much better IMHO because I have shinsplints and plantar Fascititis from walking so the elliptical is low impact but high calorie workout.  I love it.

Treadmill is good if you are are a runner and use it for speedwork.  Otherwise it is godawful boring. (For that matter I find indoor cardio pretty boring in general, and prefer the outdoors.)

I weighed 143 lbs Feb 1st  I weigh 138 now. I am only 5'1.  I keep my calories around 1200 almost everyday.  I go to the gym 4 nights a week.  30 mins on elliptical (I am up to 2.5 miles in that time) then 30 to 45 mins on circuit weight machines.

ok, according to the tools on this site, you burn 1800 calories per day at light activity.

And according to this BMR calculator, you have a basal metabolic rate of about 1330. BMR is what your body would need to sustain itself if you were comatose.

Both of these suggest that you try upping your calories to 1300 per day. That would give you about a 500 calorie deficit for a 1 lb per week weight loss. 

It seems counterintuitive, but it's not true that the less you eat the faster you'll lose weight. Below a certain level your metabolism slows down. So try upping calories for a few weeks and see if it helps.

If you want for more precision, set your activity level to sedentary in this site, and then log your exercise activity. Try and keep a 500 cal. deficit per day, eating a bit more on gym days.  If that's too complicated, just try upping your cals to 1300.

More weight less reps.

As for the treadmill vs. elliptical thing, I heard the treadmill actually burns more calories... Of course, it depends on how fast you're going... I prefer the elliptical too, but I sometimes do the treadmill just to mix things up... But I find it difficult to maintain a running/jogging speed and keep my heartrate down in the aerobic range.

But at any rate, the elliptical is much better on the joints.

Man - I wish all the CC friends would read most posts like this! I try and convince them about more heavyweights and they just won't believe me. *Sigh* Oh well. thanks for affirmation.

The elliptical is better on the body, since there is no impact.  The Treadmill is used by many since it's less 'complex' and everyone knows how to walk or run.  Many people see an elliptical and think that it's complex.  You can burn as many calories and more on an elliptical and don't have the impact on your joints and back.

As for the number of repetitions. If you are trying to lose weight and not gains alot of strength, I would recommend doing higher repetitions (10 - 15) per exercise.  I would also suggest you do some type of circuit training or multiple exercises with opposite body parts at one time.  So, when one muscle group is resting you are working the other.  For example, you can do a bench press and lateral pull downs (back) together.  Do a set of bench press, then right over to the lateral pull down machine, then back to bench press, then back to lateral pull down, etc..  This will keep you moving and burning more calories.


Sorry that I dont know yet how to post a reply to a particular reply..   but thank you bpcrue for info.  Everything I read is so conflicting.  I tried the treadmill last night instead of the elliptical.. only burned 150 cals  weighed 2 more lbs this am than I did yesterday....I will stick with the elliptical FOR SURE!!! 
In a calorie deficit you mostly can't gain muscle (unless you're Duke or Jasontarin), and to preserve what you have you should aim for 12 reps or fewer for any exercise.

 I've seen some research lately that suggests that for women it may be more beneficial to lift in the 6-8 rep range than the 8-12 while dieting, but I think that depends on your individual metabolism and your ratio of fast-twitch to slow-twitch fibre.

 Give it a go and see how it works for you though. And doing supersets or circuit training is absolutely a good way to increase work density - might not always be practical in a gym that isn't specifically set up for it, but see what you can do.

I have tried the elliptical and it makes my knees hurt after a short amount of time. Also I find it difficult to maintain a steady pace. I can walk on the treadmill forever without getting sore knees, I am in control of the speed and incline, which I love.

My personal trainer told me that walking on the treadmill without any incline is like walking slightly downhill - you have to put at least 2.0 incline to make it more like real life. Also interval training is very effective for calorie-burning. Finding that out really changed everything for me, I find the treadmill a very challenging workout now.  And why don't I just go out and walk in real life, you ask? Well I do, but I still like the treadmill for a hard workout, where I can set exactly what speed and incline I am at, and also don't have to worry about tripping on a curb or waiting for traffic.

Just one gal's explanation for why you see people on the treadmill!

OK Victoriagirl...maybe thats it  I have really never tried to "play around" with the incline on the treadmill before.  Thats good info  i will try to move that incline up next time. Thanks
34 Replies (last)