Cardio vs Weights for Weight Loss

cardio vs weights for weight loss - toronto personal trainer

Continuing on from my previous post regarding the biggest fat loss mistake the majority of beginners make, leads me to this next topic – cardio vs weights for weight loss, which one should I do for best results?


Cardio vs Weights

Generally, cardio is the more sought after form of exercise individuals tend to go after when they first begin their weight loss journey.

After-all, it is a common belief that if you want to lose some weight, go run.

Cardio has its role and place in a well-designed weight loss program, but it is far from being the end-all be all.

In fact, utilizing cardio incorrectly can lead to plateaus, muscle loss and an unfavorable body composition change.


There are three primary fat loss tools one can utilize to reach his/her goal – Resistance training(High Intensity, Metabolic), Nutrition, Cardio (HIIT, LISS).


Intelligent resistance training is the primary driver for fat loss and must be prioritized as such.

  • Generally burns more calories per session through higher muscle fiber recruitment
  • Prevents muscle loss or even builds muscle tissue as you lose body fat – This results in ‘toned’, lean and defined muscles
  • Increases metabolic rate long after the training session is finished
  • Improves nutrient partitioning (body makes better use of the foods you eat)
  • Promotes muscle hypertrophy which is crucial for weight loss sustainability, overall vitality and achieving the “toned” and defined physique look.

Both weights and cardio are extremely useful for ultimately helping you achieve your weight loss goals. It is not a matter of competing with one another but rather utilizing both strategically to achieve optimal results.



Cardio when used correctly and in combination with weight training helps:

  • Burn extra calories and promote fat loss
  • Improves stamina and endurance
  • Good for the cardiovascular system and overall health

However, when used excessively and as a sole form of exercise cardio can:

  • Break down muscle tissue and use as energy thus promoting muscle loss. (muscles are more metabolically demanding than fats therefore the body may burn it as fuel when adapting to high amounts of cardio for efficiency)
  • Make it difficult to burn body fat once you plateau (and you will)
  • Require ridiculous amounts to continue seeing results – To burn the same amount of calories you burned doing 30 minutes the first two weeks, you’ll need to increase it to 45 minutes or even 60 minutes. The body will quickly find the most efficient way to upkeep without using much energy.

Lastly, steady state cardio (jogging or same-pace running) only burns calories for the duration of your session. If you’re looking for a body composition change along with your weight loss (achieving a toned and defined muscle look), regular cardio alone is a very poor choice.

For more signs on doing too much cardio, read this.


Final Words

As a mentioned earlier, for optimal weight loss results strategically implement both weight training and cardio into your program. They are both merely tools to help you reach your goal. However, I highly recommend prioritizing resistance training followed by implementing cardio along the way as needed.


Primal Breed is committed to providing you effective personal training in Toronto, helping you lose unwanted weight permanently and build lean muscle for life.

3 Effective Cues for Building a Big, Muscular Back

How to get a big, muscular back fast - Toronto personal training

In a world where most bro’s just hit chest and biceps, an impressive back is not too common. Since you can’t see your own back, most guys just don’t train it as hard as the visible muscle groups. However, there’s no denying that a well-developed, muscular back takes your physique to a next level. Since I’ve struggled to build my back for years, I’m gonna share the most important lessons I’ve learned along the way to help you build a big, muscular back.


The common path

Throughout my lifting journey I’ve listened to the majority of people giving advice.

Guess what? Most of it is just a regurgitation of the next guy’s beliefs.

When it comes to back training especially, “hard” and “heavy” is the most common recommendations you’ll hear.

Well, that has left me with sore joints, slightly damaged lower back and sub-par back development.

In addition, I started to believe that “genetically” I’m just not meant to have a big, muscular back. What a load of crap.

The truth is that I was focusing on the wrong cues.


Internal focus of control

So it was time to switch things up completely.

I stopped focusing on external factors such as the ‘best exercises’ or how much weight I’m lifting.  

Instead I started focusing on what’s going on internally.

“Am I feeling the muscle stretch and contract?”

“Which muscle is actually initiating the movement?”

I started focusing on making sure my back muscles are actually doing most of the lifting – fully stretching and contracting hard.

If I wasn’t feeling my back working during an exercise I’d just pick another that I would,  not getting attached to a specific movement just because it’s said to be “king of mass”.

It wasn’t until I started focusing on precise exercise execution that I started to see lagging body parts come up.


Here’s what made a great difference for me:


Lighten the weight.

Biggest mistake I see people make (myself included) is lift weights that are simply too heavy.

If hypertrophy is your goal then isolating and feeling the muscle at work becomes priority.

Lightening the weight allows you to create a better mind-muscle connection with the muscles you are targeting by being able to control the weight and “choose” which muscle you want to use to do so.

Just because your deadlift increased or you dumbbell row heavier, doesn’t mean your back is actually growing unless your execution remains precise.

Heavy weights with poor execution will hypertrophy your ego more than anything else.


Use precise execution.

Exercise execution is the most important factor when it comes to building muscle. Even more so for your naturally smaller and weaker body parts.

Simply going through the motion of a row will not sufficiently stimulate your mid back for optimal growth.

My rule is “If you can’t feel your muscle doing the work, fix your execution first“.

There’s no good motive to keep increasing the load and intensity if your execution is poor.

Poor execution means the muscles you are trying to target during the movement are not active or just barely.

More weight will just break the form down further, increasing stress on joints and teaching your brain the wrong movement patterns that will become harder to fix down the line.

It’s important to initiate the exercise with the working muscle from the start. The muscle that you initiate the movement with will end up doing the majority of the work throughout the set.

As your ability to activate and use a muscle on demand increases, your gains will skyrocket.

If you cannot feel your back muscles working during the exercise, either switch to a different exercise or lighten the load and spend some time learning the correct execution.


Use unilateral exercises. 

Unilateral exercises are fantastic for activating or targeting lagging body parts.

For example:

If you begin doing heavy barbell rows, your most dominant muscle groups will take over.

In addition, if performed unconsciously – meaning you’re letting the weight lead your body, instead of vice versa – your body will find the most efficient way to perform the task.

That means involving some legs, lower back, momentum and other external mechanical advantages leaving you with maybe a 20-30% actual mid-back/lat muscle fiber activation.

Truth is you will never get a big, muscular back doing it this way. And no, adding more weight will not help.

Instead, if you perform some light unilateral exercises such as the one arm cable row or dead-stop row first, you’ll be able to activate the weaker back muscles such as a mid-traps, rhomboids and perhaps lats.

This will help create stronger brain neuro-pathways to those muscles, so they’ll play a bigger part in a heavier compound lift.

I like to perform these exercises first to “wake my mid traps up” before I move on to the barbell exercises and “keep them awake” for the rest of the workout.

Note* I am not recommending going light to build your back. Use the heaviest load you can manage while maintaining proper exercise execution. If you stop feeling your back muscles working or begin swinging and using sloppy form, the weight is too heavy.  


Final Words

I can guarantee you that your ability to activate and use your strong body parts is high.

In turn, your ability to activate and control your lagging body parts is poor. This is not a coincidence.

Genetics are not the reason why your back is not growing. It’s because you’re not actually stimulating the back muscle fibers sufficiently to make them grow.

best exercises for a bigger more muscular back - toronto personal training

I used to be so attached to deadlifting and the thought of lightening the weight or substitute a different exercise altogether was horrifying. I’ve been working diligently at it for a long time and giving up my devoted investment was difficult.

However, I’ve seen most of my back growth afterwards, once I’ve implemented these points above.

how to build a big, muscular back - toronto personal training how to build a big, muscular back - toronto personal training

Getting attached to a specific lift or a certain amount of weight (anything external) can and will limit your progress potential immensely. It is extremely important to have an internal point of reference guiding your decisions.

It’s the only way to learn how your own body truly functions  as well as figure out which exercises work best for you through mastering execution first. 



Primal Breed is committed to providing you effective personal training in Toronto, helping you lose unwanted weight permanently and build lean muscle for life.

Exercise Execution: The SECRET to Building MUSCLE

secret to building muscle - exercise execution primal breed fit

Everyone is looking for THE ANSWER. 

You often hear people ask “What’s the best move for biceps?” or “What’s the best exercise for abs?”.

Well, there is no such thing as ‘best’.

Why? You may ask.

Because the way you perform an exercise matters far more than which exercise you choose to do and that will be individually dependent.

You see, the answer is not a newly discovered supplement or a special advanced program.

The answer lies in mastering the basics: exercise execution.


Exercise Execution

Exercise execution is referred to the ability to consciously initiate and maximally contract the targeted working muscle through its entire active range of motion.

If your execution sucks, the likelihood of you building muscle is – low.

Most individuals create a mindset around going to the gym and “crushing it”.

Before you can apply hard work, you must know how to apply your efforts in the right direction.

How you train (execution) is much more important than what (exercise) you do.

Simply “lifting weight” is not going to get you the results that you are looking for.

There is more to it.

Proper execution takes focus and a basic understanding of how the body functions.

In order to maximally contract a specific muscle, your set-up must provide a stable platform for that muscle to contract.

Imagine trying to generate maximum force pulling a rope that has no attachment to either end. Not happening.

Stabilizing one side will allow the other side to generate maximum force.

When setting up for any exercise, focus on stabilizing your body to allow the working muscle groups to generate maximum force.

For instance, let’s take the barbell bench press. If your set-up does not provide maximum stabilization of your body, generating maximum force through the pecs will be impossible.

Ensuring that the shoulder blades aren’t moving and the body is stable as a whole will provide you the ability to utilize maximum pectoral recruitment. 

Key things to focus on when performing any movement:

  1. Correct set-up for your body type
  2. Stabilize
  3. Isolate

Firing something from a stable platform will be very effective and efficient to contract any body part.

Main things to stabilize:

  • Upper Body – Scapula and Core
  • Lower Body – Pelvis

The amount of stimulus (sets, reps, rest, load) matters, but only once your form is 100% accurately directing tension to the working muscle.

There’s no logical reason to keep loading up the bar unless you are able to create a strong mind muscle connection during the movement. Your ability to direct the tension towards the desired muscle must be present first before increasing load.

For instance, let’s take the barbell row.

If you are not ‘feeling’ a strong engagement of your lats, rhomboids and mid traps throughout the movement with a naked bar (45 lb), loading up more weight will only make matters worse.

Before increasing load, master exercise execution.

Increasing the weight without proper form will only force your body to start using momentum, swinging and other unwanted mechanical advantages to lift that weight up.

Note* Weight lifting is about moving weight from point A to point B as efficiently as possible. Hypertrophy training is the exact opposite; it’s about moving weight from point A to point B (active range of motion of the muscle) as inefficient as possible in order to isolate and force that specific muscle to do maximum work.

Cheating (Improper form)

The body is designed to “cheat”. To get things done. Adding more weight to the bar, dumbbell or machine will often lead to changes in exercise execution – “cheating”.

Cheating may come in the form of unnecessary movement.

It may come in the form of shortened distance from the joint you’re trying to influence, or in the form of acceleration to propel more momentum.

In other words; increasing load without mastering exercise execution first may take away from the muscle’s active range of motion reducing total stimulus as well as using inertia rather than the actual muscle to move the weight.

Mindlessly moving weight from point A to point B will not optimally stimulate the muscle you are trying to target.

The body is primarily concerned with making everything as easy and efficient as possible.

Without conscious intent, the body will start using external mechanical advantages to get the job done.

Your dominant muscle groups will always eat the main course and the lagging body parts will get the leftovers, so-to speak.

This will lead to muscle imbalances, sub-optimal growth, minimal results and possible injuries.

Switch your thought pattern from external focus to internal focus.

Consciously think about what your muscles are doing rather than putting focus on moving the bar or hitting your target reps.

Note* As your ability to contract muscles improves, you may start increasing load.

To make progressive overload work in your favor, here’s how to utilize it:

  1. Improve Execution
  2. Enhance Mind Muscle Connection
  3. Increase Time Under Tension
  4. Add more Load (weight)



Most people only ever consider load.

Load is secondary to execution.

Adding more weight to the bar without concern for where it’s being placed is unavailing.

P.S. Having been working in a gym for many years now as a personal trainer in Toronto, most people jump straight into intensity without properly learning proper execution and correct movement patterns. Your results will be only as great as the direction of your efforts. Effort without direction is simply exhausting yourself.