What Is Better for Weight Loss: Cardio or Weightlifting?

Personal Fitness in Tampa Bay

When folks want to drop pounds, they often wonder: What Is Better for Weight Loss: Cardio or Weightlifting? Figuring out the best way to spend your workout time can be tough. This article breaks down weight training versus cardio for weight loss. Let’s dive in!

Cardio Burns More Calories per Session

Scientists have checked out how many calories folks use up during different activities. They’ve found out that the more you weigh, the more calories your body burns. Let’s take a look at some numbers:

  • If you weigh 160 pounds (73 kilograms) and go for a moderate jog for 30 minutes, you can burn about 250 calories.
  • Now, if you kick it up a notch and run at a speed of 6 miles per hour for the same time, you’d burn around 365 calories.
  • But if you spend that 30 minutes doing weight training, you might only burn between 130 to 220 calories.

So, generally, cardio tends to torch more calories than weight training, even if you put in the same amount of effort.

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Weight Training Helps You Burn More Calories Every Day

Weight training might not burn as many calories as cardio, but it’s got its own perks. Here’s the scoop:

When you’re chilling out, your muscles burn more calories than other body tissues, like fat. Building muscle is said to be one of the best ways to rev up your resting metabolic rate.

A study looked into this by checking the resting metabolic rates of folks who did weight training for 24 weeks. They found that men saw their resting metabolic rate shoot up by about 9%, while women’s went up by roughly 4%. 

Sounds good, right? But let’s talk numbers. For men, this increase meant burning around 140 extra calories per day, while for women, it was more like 50 extra calories.

So, while weight training won’t turn your metabolism into a blazing furnace, it might give it a little boost.

But weight training isn’t just about burning calories during your workout. It turns out that it can keep your calorie-burning engine running even after you’re done exercising. Some studies suggest that your metabolism can stay elevated for up to 38 hours after weight training, which isn’t the case with cardio.

Plus, the more intense your workout, the more calories you can torch. So, weight training has its own calorie-burning benefits that go beyond just the time you spend lifting weights.

Interval Training With High Intensity Provides Similar Benefits to Cardio in Less Time

Apart from cardio and weights, there are other workout options worth checking out. One popular method is High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Here’s the lowdown:

HIIT involves short bursts of super intense exercise followed by periods of low-intensity rest. A typical HIIT session usually lasts between 10 to 30 minutes.

You can do HIIT with various exercises like running, cycling, jumping rope, or bodyweight exercises. It’s a flexible and effective way to get your heart pumping and burn some serious calories.

HIIT May Burn More Calories

Several studies have looked into the differences between cardio, weight training, and HIIT. One study, for example, checked out how many calories you burn in 30 minutes of HIIT training, weight lifting, running, and cycling. 

The researchers discovered that HIIT burns about 25-30% more calories compared to the other types of exercise. But hey, that doesn’t mean the other exercises won’t help you shed some pounds.

Both Hiit and Traditional Cardio May Have Similar Effects on Weight Loss

Researchers studied over 400 overweight and obese adults and found something interesting: both HIIT cardio and traditional cardio can trim body fat and waist size by about the same amount.

Other studies suggest that HIIT workouts can burn as many calories as regular cardio, but it depends on how hard you’re pushing yourself.

For instance, if you weigh around 160 pounds (73 kilograms) or more, some research suggests you could torch up to 300 calories in just 30 minutes of cardio or HIIT.

One cool thing about HIIT is that it lets you spend less time working out because you get those rest periods between the intense bursts of exercise.

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How To Lose Belly Fat

Multiple Exercise Types May Be the Best

The American College of Sports Medicine is a top-notch source for exercise advice. They’ve published weight-loss recommendations backed by solid evidence.

How Much Exercise Should You Do per Week?

According to the ACSM, doing less than 150 minutes of moderate or vigorous exercise per week, like cardio, isn’t enough for weight loss. They suggest that most folks need more than 150 minutes of physical activity each week to shed pounds. Research backs this up, indicating that the more exercise you do, the more weight you’re likely to lose.

What Types of Exercise Should You Do?

The ACSM looked into the research and found that weight lifting alone isn’t particularly helpful for weight loss. But here’s the thing: even if the numbers on your scale don’t budge, your body composition can still improve.

Weight training, for example, can boost muscle and trim fat. So, while your overall weight might stay the same, your body might look and feel better.

A big study with 119 overweight or obese adults sheds light on this. They split the participants into three groups: one did weights, another did cardio, and the third did both.

After eight months, the folks who combined cardio with weights lost the most fat and weight. The weights-only and cardio-plus-weights groups bulked up the most muscle. But the cardio-plus-weights crew saw the most significant changes in body composition—they gained muscle, lost fat, and shed weight.

So, if you’re aiming to reshape your body, a mix of cardio and weights seems like the winning formula.

Diet and Exercise Are Both Important for Long-Term Success

Most people know that regular exercise and a healthy diet are key to staying healthy. Many health organizations suggest making changes to both diet and exercise to help with weight loss. If you want to see the best results, it’s crucial to pay attention to what you eat.

The ideal weight-loss program includes moderate calorie reduction and an exercise program that is effective.

Many folks understand the importance of eating well for weight loss. However, some folks take it too far, claiming that diet is all that matters. But let’s not forget about exercise—it’s crucial too.

In a scientific review involving over 400 participants, researchers compared the weight-loss effects of diet and exercise to those of diet changes alone. They discovered that combining dietary and exercise changes resulted in a 20% greater weight reduction compared to just dietary changes over a period of 10 weeks to one year.

It’s also tougher to maintain weight loss with diet alone compared to when exercise is part of the equation.

The Bottom Line

Both weights and cardio can boost your fitness and overall health. Weight training is great for burning fat, while cardio is excellent for muscle building. For the best results in improving body composition and health, it’s ideal to include both cardio and weights in your workout routine.

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