How To Choose Between Cardio And Weight Training

February 18, 2020

Runner woman running with heart rate monitor
Emmanuel Feranmi

If you want to start a weight loss journey, you're often faced with a disturbing dilemma. Do you lift weights or do you do cardio? Which would help you lose weight quicker, and which is easier to do?

Cardio and weight lifting are the most popular forms of exercising and it can be difficult to decide exactly which one would be great for you.  

But that's why this article is here. You'll be caught up on all you need to know about both forms of exercising and more. In fact, by the end of this article, you may have already come to a decision on the form to go with.

First off, let's ask the obvious question. Which form of exercise burns off more calories?

Cardio Burns A Lot More Calories Per Session

For most cardio forms, your calorie loss rate is determined by your weight. For example, a person who weighs a hundred and sixty pounds will burn two hundred and fifty calories per each half-hour they choose to jog. If they were to jog faster, they could even burn up to three hundred and fifty calories per half hour.

But if you used that period of time to lift weights, you'd probably only lose about two hundred and fifty calories at most. So basically, with cardio, you burn a lot more calories at the same time than weight lifting.

Weight Training Can Help You Burn A Lot More Calories Everyday

So yes, weight training burns fewer calories than cardio. But that doesn't mean it doesn't have its own benefits.

One of the chief benefits of weight training is the build-up of muscle, and with muscle a lot more calories are burnt at rest. If you want increased metabolism, it is important to build muscle.

This doesn't mean that weight training will skyrocket your rate of metabolism. In fact, most studies have proven that it will only increase it by a small amount. Thankfully, this isn't the only benefit of weight training.

Research has shown that weight training doesn't only help you lose fat during the period of training, it also helps after training. So even after hours of training, your body is still burning bits and pieces of calories. No such thing has been recorded with cardio training.

So What Is Best?

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has a few recommendations on the best way to lose weight.

The ACSM states that less than 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity like cardio or weight training per week will almost definitely not translate into significant weight loss (or any weight loss at all). However, more than 150 minutes of the same activity will almost definitely translate to significant weight loss.

Interestingly, ACSM research has shown that weight training isn't the most effective for weight loss. However, it is important to note that maintaining the same weight may not be the most terrible thing. Weight training may not help you lose a ton of weight, but it will definitely help the composition of the weight. For example, your muscle will increase and be more defined while your fat will almost definitely decrease.

But what's stopping you from combining cardio and weight training?  With cardio, you lose a tonne of weight, while with weight training you get better muscle-fat ratio and composition. You can very easily combine both methods and have the best results.

Remember To Diet

It is not enough to have the best exercise program. If you continue consuming calorie-rich and nutrient-deficient food, you will almost certainly see no positive improvement.

Loads of research have shown that even the best and most rigorous exercise regimen can only work with a healthy diet. For best results, you'll still have to pay adequate attention to what you eat.

Of course, diets are not the most important aspect of weight loss. In fact, there is no one most important way or method to lose weight. To optimize your results, it is important to have a combination of all the methods.

Yes, cardio is great for losing weight, weight training is amazing for muscle definition and you need a healthy diet to keep your "gain". Therefore it is important to combine all methods if you're serious about your weight loss journey.

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