Although your diet is the number one factor that influences fat loss, exercise plays an important role too. But not all workouts are created equal in this respect.
While both cardio and weight training can help you reach your fat loss goals, they do so in different ways. In this article, we’re taking a look at how these two popular forms of exercise affect fat loss and which you should choose to see the best results.
There’s no denying that cardio can be a beneficial part of your exercise routine. From improving heart health to strengthening your joints, there are numerous reasons why you should turn to cardio to get the blood pumping.
And cardio can come in handy if you’re aiming for fat loss too! On average, someone who weighs 160 pounds can expect to burn about 250 calories with 30 minutes of moderate cardio. While that might not seem like much at first glance, those numbers begin to add up quickly when you exercise frequently and consistently.
But that’s where the problem lies—fat loss via cardio requires a high level of time and commitment. Unlike some other forms of exercise that increase the number of calories your metabolism burns long term, cardio only burns calories as you’re doing it. Once you call it a day at the gym, you stop reaping the weight loss benefits of cardiovascular exercise.
At first glance, weight training seems inferior to cardio when it comes to fat loss.
For one, weight lifting burns fewer calories than cardio during the time you spend exercising. While 30 minutes of cardio might help you burn roughly 250 calories, the same amount of time working with weights nets a calorie burn of only 130. Additionally, weight training is typically more intense and physically demanding than cardio, which means that exercise times need to be shorter by necessity.
However, unlike cardio, the fat loss benefits of weight lifting stick with you long after your workout is done.
When you work with weights, the whole point is to break down the fibers in your muscles. This damage is then repaired by your body, leading to muscles that are bigger, stronger, and more resilient. During this repair process—which can sometimes last for hours after a workout—your body requires additional calories to burn in order to get the job done.
On top of all this, as your body adds more muscle mass more calories will be required each day to maintain it. It’s estimated that a pound of muscle burns about ten calories per day—so as you pack on muscle, the number of calories your body uses to maintain itself increases as well.
So which is the better choice when it comes to fat loss?
If you have the ability to incorporate both into your routine, that’s the way to go. Both cardio and weight training will help you burn the calories needed for fat loss, and since they help optimize your overall health in other ways, doing both is the smartest decision.
How you split your time between the two is a matter of personal preference, though.
If the thought of jogging for hours on end sounds like a chore, there’s no reason to make yourself miserable with tons of cardio. Even something as simple as a few 20-minute sessions per week can help you see results. Similarly, if pumping iron isn’t your thing, there’s no good reason to spend all day in the weight room. It’s about finding a sustainable balance that works for you.
No matter how you decide to work out, the most important thing is that you give your body the nutrients it needs to operate at maximum performance.