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Weights vs Cardio for Fat Loss


When it comes to losing weight, which is more effective: cardio or weight training?

A lot people think that if you want to lose fat, you should do more cardio, and that if you want to build muscle, you should lift weights. However, this is a little simplistic as weight training can be better for fat loss than cardio

Short Term

Firstly, this is down to the ‘afterburn’ effect you get from doing weight training, that can last for over 24-36 hours post workout. This means that when you have finished your body will be burning 10 -15 additional calories every hour, which makes a huge difference to your calorie expenditure if you’re burning an extra 3-400 calories with each session.

With cardio training the ‘afterburn’ will be around 50-100 calories after a moderately intense session. To get high levels of post calorie burn through cardio, you would need to be doing much longer sessions. High intensity exercise like sprinting will give a similar effect to weight training.  


Long Term

With a consistent weight training plan, you will develop more lean muscle mass. This enables you to have a much higher metabolism and have your body burning through more calories all the time. The more lean muscle tissue you have, the higher this rate will be. This not only helps with losing weight just now, but makes your body more resistant to weight gain as you grow older. Muscle tissue is relatively easy to maintain (with the correct training and diet), so will prevent you from yo-yoing with fat levels and will also maintain your metabolic rate if you have a break in training.

Weights for Women

One point we get a lot from our female clients is that they don’t want to become overly muscly through doing weights. This won’t happen as women have much lower testosterone levels than men, so won’t be able to develop the same levels of muscle mass. What weight training does do, is improve your metabolic rate, promote calorie burn and improve definition when the fat comes off.


Benefits of Cardio

Cardio obviously has its benefits. During a moderate session you can burn between 500-800 calories, this will generally be higher than a weights session. However this will vary depending on the length and intensity of your session. Given it takes 3500 calories to lose 1 pound of fat, time may start to become an issue as you will need to do much longer cardio sessions.

While a weight-training session may not burn as many calories per minute during the actual workout, the overall calorie-burning benefits you receive from it typically outweigh those of cardio.

Cardio also has a bigger influence on your cardiovascular health, as your heart and lungs usually have to work much harder and for a longer period of time.

In conclusion, both methods have their benefits for overall health. However, weight training is more effective than cardio when it comes to fat loss and improving body shape, and you should be looking to build it into your training if fat loss is your goal.

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