If you want to burn fat, you have to do cardio, right?
For the longest time, I used to believe that weightlifting was strictly for building muscle, and cardio was the only way to burn away body fat.
What if I told you that BOTH can be used to help rid yourself of unwanted body fat. Now, before I give you my biased opinion, let’s go over the benefits of each one so you can decide for yourself which one you believe is actually better.
This is going to vary depending on the intensity of the exercise and based off how much you actually weigh.
Let’s just say, for example, you weigh 155 pounds and you happen to be jogging at a moderate pace for 30 minutes. It is estimated that you would burn about 230 calories. Take that same person and have them run roughly 6 -7 mph for 30 minutes, they would burn about 400 calories.
Compare this to the amount calories burned during a weightlifting/strength training session, you’re only burning about 120-220 calories during that time.
Ok, so obviously I burn more calories from cardio workouts, so it’s safe to assume this is the better option.
Well, not exactly.
It’s a little more complicated than that, so bear with me.
Yes, cardio burns more calories per session, but now let’s look at calories burned throughout the whole day!
In one particular study, seven men performed strength training exercises for 30 minutes, and their resting metabolism continued to stay elevated for 38 hours! This means even after you are finished with your workout, you are still burning calories.
In addition to extended calorie-burning potential, weight lifting also helps you build muscle.
So, as you continue to build muscle, the better your body is at burning calories efficiently!
While there are many different forms of cardio, each similarly provides an array of different health benefits aside from helping your body burn body fat. Some of these benefits are:
Ok, this sounds great, but how much cardio do I need to actually see these benefits?
Now that we’ve covered the pros of cardio, let’s take a look at how strength training can be beneficial for you.
Just like cardio, there are a lot of great advantages to lifting weights. Probably the two most obvious ones are the ability to build lean muscle mass and burn body fat. Let’s take a look at the advantages you may not have known about. According to the mayo clinic, strength training can help you:
As you can see, pumping iron does more than just build muscle and burn fat. So, I’m guessing your next question is “how often should I pick up the weights?”
You should aim to hit the weights at least three times per week. You also want to make sure you are switching up your workouts.
For one, doing the same routine over and over gets boring real fast. Second, switching up your weight lifting routine will make it more difficult for your body to adjust as quickly. This translates to better muscle building and fat burning potential.
To get the most out of your strength training routine, you want to include a combination of various routines such as:
So, what you’re saying is I should do both of these?
This sounds like a lot of exercises, is there any way to reap the benefits of both without having to devote countless hours exercising every week?
While I would encourage you to incorporate both forms of exercise, there is one more alternative you can add into your workouts, high-intensity-interval-training (HIIT).
What is HIIT?
It can be defined as short, intense, unsustainable bursts of physical activity, combined with short periods of rest. HIIT workouts range anywhere from 10-30 minutes, depending on your physical capabilities.
Research has shown that HIIT can burn up to 25-30% more calories than other forms of exercise.
Since HIIT is pretty broad in general, let me explain this a little more clearly.
Typically, a traditional strength training routine can take anywhere from 45-60 minutes with single isolation movement exercises. Instead, let’s cut that time in half and make my workout consist of compound body-weight exercises only. So, rather than me doing ONLY a shoulder press exercise, I’m actually going to combine a shoulder press along with a squat.
With these shorter periods of rest combined with compound exercises, I can achieve a good calorie burning workout similar to cardio while reaping the same benefits I would with strength training.
Now, before you get too excited, there are some potential drawbacks to HIIT.
It is recommended to use HIIT NO MORE than 3 times a week, provided that you are in proper physical shape.
At the end of the day, both cardio and weightlifting can be effective for burning body fat and providing health benefits. My suggestion would be to fit a little of everything into your routine to get the most out of your workouts.
Remember that Exercise is great, but if your main objective is to burn fat, then your best bet is to combine exercise with a proper diet.
Brian @ thinkhealthyfitness.com