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Cardio or Weight Lifting: Which One Helps You Lose More Weight and Keep It Off for Long Run?

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When many people begin their weight loss journey, they may ask themselves “what is going to be the best types of exercises for me to do, in order to lose weight, the fastest?”.  The 2 most popular forms of exercise would be cardio such as (aerobics, walking, jogging, cycling etc.) and weight or resistance training. It is difficult to know which one of these forms of exercise are the best.


The truth is, that this question is not so clear-cut. In the past, a professional trainer would have recommended cardio such as aerobics or jogging, if your goal was to burn calories and lose fat. 


However, in more recent times, many studies have shown that strength training can not only burn calories and fat, but it can build and tone muscle, which can help you burn calories, at rest, long after your workout has completed. 


This article discusses each form of exercise to gain a better understanding of the pros and cons. 




Scientists have been researching various cardiovascular training for decades to find out exactly how many calories are burned during a session. Based on this research, it is apparent that a person’s body weight has a big impact on exactly how many calories are burned.


If you are weight 160 lbs. or approx. 73 kg, then you will burn approximately 250 calories during a moderate 30 min jog. If you run a little faster (6 miles per hour), you could expect to burn approx. 360 calories in the same 30-minute period. 


So obviously it is hard to even have a definitive answer to the question of how many calories can I burn jogging, with so many variables, let alone comparing this form of exercise with another one. 


But for the sake of a comparison, if you did a moderate session of resistance training for the same 30-minute period of time, you may only burn approx. 200 calories. 


So to summarize, you will burn more calories per session of doing cardio such as jogging, than weight training, with a similar intensity. 


Here is an excerpt from a study comparing Aerobic Training (AT) and Resistance Training (RT) published on NCBI titled “Effects of aerobic and/or resistance training on body mass and fat mass in overweight or obese adults”




“The data support the following conclusions. Although it was more effective for lean body mass gains, RT did not significantly reduce either fat mass or total body mass. AT was more effective than RT for the reduction of fat and body mass in previously sedentary, nondiabetic, overweight or obese adults. While requiring double the time commitment, a program of combined AT and RT did not result in a greater loss of fat mass or body mass over AT. If increasing muscle mass and strength is the goal, a program including RT is required. However, balancing time commitments against health benefits accrued, it appears that AT alone is the optimal mode of exercise for reducing fat mass and total body mass”.


However, there is more to the story…




Whilst weight training doesn’t generally burn as many calories as a moderate cardio workout, it has some other powerful benefits when it comes to assisting fat loss.


Weight or resistance training will help you burn more calories every day. Weight training is much more effective at building muscle mass, and muscle burns calories at rest much more than other tissues including fat. 


For this reason, it has been well established that resistance training or training regularly with weights, can increase one’s overall resting metabolism, so you essentially become a fat burning machine, even when you are sitting in from of the T.V. 


One particular study showed men had an increase in their resting metabolism of 9%. The effects in women were a little less, with a more modest increase of about 4%.


This shows that weight-training has other important benefits when it comes to burning calories. 


In addition to this, research has also shown that you burn more calories, after completing a resistance training session, when compared to cardio. This is known in the health industry as the “after burn effect”. This effect has been known to last for as long as 40 hours.


So to summarize, resistance training is superior to increasing your metabolic rate, so, therefore, can help you burn more calories, during times of inactivity.




As you can see after reading this article, what the best form of exercise for long-term fat loss and weight management is, is not a clear-cut question to answer.


There are pros and cons you need to weight up for both forms, and in my opinion, both forms have their place in an effective fat loss and weight control program. 


Whilst traditional cardio such as power walking, aerobics, swimming, jogging, cycling etc. can burn more calories in the interim, and also lead to faster fat loss and overall body mass reduction; It is weight training that is superior for raising your metabolic rate, meaning you will become more efficient at burning calories and fat, during times of inactivity. 


Both cardio and resistance training are excellent choices to help you get fit, healthy and lean.


Yes, a cardio workout can burn more calories than weight training, however, for long-term success, it is advisable to include resistance training in your exercise program as well. This will help you build and strengthen your muscles, which will increase your metabolic rate, and turn you into a fat burning machine, that burns calories, even when you are sleeping. 


Weight training is also an excellent form of exercise for the other systems in your body, not just muscles. Resistance training offers great benefit to your cardiovascular, skeletal and central nervous system as well. 


It is also important, not to forget the role that diet plays in your program. You cannot out-train a bad diet, no matter what types of exercises you do. 

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