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Weight Loss: Strength Training vs Cardio

Which is best?

In today’s world, where fast food and sedentary lifestyles are all too common, it’s no wonder that many people are struggling with their weight. Weight loss is a complex issue, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, there are two types of exercise that are particularly effective for weight loss: strength training and cardio.

What is weight loss?

Weight loss is the process of reducing body fat. This can be achieved through a combination of diet and exercise. When you burn more calories than you consume, you create a calorie deficit, which forces your body to use stored fat for energy. This leads to weight loss.

Why is weight loss important?

There are many reasons why weight loss is important for your health. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing a number of serious health conditions, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Certain types of cancer

In addition to the health risks, being overweight or obese can also have a negative impact on your quality of life. It can make it difficult to move around, can lead to joint pain, and can make it difficult to sleep.

Strength training vs. cardio for weight loss: an overview

When it comes to weight loss, both strength training and cardio are effective. However, they work in different ways.
Strength training is a type of exercise that involves using weights or other resistance to build muscle. Muscle tissue is metabolically active, which means it burns more calories than fat tissue. This means that strength training can help you to increase your metabolism and burn more calories even at rest. Additionally, strength training can help to improve your body composition, which means that you will have more muscle and less fat.

What is strength training?

Strength training, also known as resistance training, is a type of exercise that involves the use of resistance to build muscle strength and endurance. It can be done using a variety of equipment, including free weights, weight machines, resistance bands, and your own body weight.
Strength training offers a multitude of benefits for weight loss, including:

Strength training can help you burn a significant amount of calories during exercise. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that participants burned an average of 315 calories per session after completing a strength training workout.

Strength training goes beyond aesthetics; it directly impacts your ability to perform daily activities. By enhancing overall strength and endurance, you’ll find everyday tasks easier and more efficient. Whether it’s carrying groceries, playing with your kids, or navigating stairs, the functional benefits of strength training contribute to a more capable and resilient body, reducing the likelihood of injuries and promoting an active lifestyle.

Muscle tissue is metabolically active, meaning it burns more calories than fat tissue. By increasing your muscle mass, you can boost your metabolism and burn more calories even at rest.

Strength training helps to increase your muscle-to-fat ratio, which means you will have more muscle and less fat. This can lead to a more toned and defined appearance.

Most effective strength training exercises for weight loss

There are many effective strength training exercises for weight loss, but some of the most beneficial include:

Deadlifts

Deadlifts work the muscles in your posterior chain, including your hamstrings, glutes, and back. They are another compound exercise that is very effective for building muscle and burning calories.

Lunges

Lunges work the muscles in your lower body, including your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. They are a great exercise for improving balance and coordination.

Push-ups

Push-ups work the muscles in your upper body, including your chest, triceps, and shoulders. They are a great exercise for building strength and endurance.

Pull-ups

Pull-ups work the muscles in your back, including your lats and biceps. They are a challenging exercise that can help you build upper body strength.

How to get started with strength training

If you are new to strength training, it is important to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts. It is also important to use proper form to avoid injury. If you are unsure how to do an exercise safely, ask a certified personal trainer for help.

What is cardio?

Cardio, also known as aerobic exercise, is any type of physical activity that elevates your heart rate and maintains it for an extended period. This type of exercise is crucial for overall health and well-being, offering a multitude of benefits, including enhanced cardiovascular health, weight loss and management, reduced stress, increased energy levels, and improved sleep.

Benefits of cardio for weight loss:

  • Improved Heart Health: Regular cardio strengthens your heart muscle, enhances its efficiency, and lowers your resting heart rate. This contributes to better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of heart disease.
  • Enhanced Endurance: Cardio boosts your stamina, allowing you to engage in activities for longer periods without getting tired. This can enhance your overall fitness level and make everyday tasks easier.
  • Increased Calorie Burning: Cardio elevates your heart rate, leading to increased calorie expenditure during exercise. The more intense the workout, the more calories you burn.

Most effective cardio exercises for weight loss

A variety of cardio exercises can effectively promote weight loss. Some of the most popular and effective options include:

Running is a versatile and efficient cardio exercise that can be easily incorporated into your routine. It engages major muscle groups in your lower body and burns a significant amount of calories.

Swimming is a low-impact exercise that is gentle on your joints while effectively raising your heart rate. It provides a full-body workout, engaging muscles in your upper and lower body.

Cycling is an enjoyable and effective cardio exercise that can be done outdoors or indoors. It targets your lower body muscles, particularly your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves.

Dancing is a fun and energetic way to get your heart pumping and burn calories. It engages various muscle groups throughout your body and can help improve coordination and flexibility.

Brisk walking is a simple yet effective cardio exercise that can be done almost anywhere. It is a great way to start your fitness journey and gradually build up your endurance.

Calories

In the realm of fitness and weight management, understanding calorie burn is crucial. Calories, the units of energy your body derives from food, serve as the currency for your physical activities. Whether you’re engaging in strength training or cardio, comprehending calorie expenditure is essential for achieving your fitness goals.

Strength training: building muscle, burning calories

Strength training, the practice of using resistance to build muscle, plays a significant role in calorie burn. While the exact number of calories burned during strength training varies depending on factors such as body weight, intensity, and exercise selection, it’s generally estimated to range from 90 to 126 calories per 30 minutes for moderate-intensity strength training.

The calorie-burning benefits of strength training extend beyond the workout session. Muscle tissue has a higher metabolic rate than fat tissue, meaning it burns more calories even at rest. This phenomenon, known as the EPOC effect (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption), can significantly boost your daily calorie expenditure.

cardio: pumping your way to calorie burn

Cardiovascular exercise, commonly known as cardio, elevates your heart rate and breathing, leading to increased calorie burn. The amount of calories burned during cardio depends on the intensity and duration of the exercise. For instance, running at a moderate pace of 6 mph for 30 minutes burns approximately 270 calories for a 155-pound person.
Cardio is particularly effective for burning calories during exercise. However, unlike strength training, its impact on resting metabolic rate is less pronounced. Nevertheless, regular cardio can significantly contribute to weight loss and overall fitness.

Maximising calorie burn: strategies for success

To maximise calorie burn during strength training and cardio, consider these effective strategies:

Strength training:

Focus on compound exercises: Compound exercises, such as squats, lunges, and deadlifts, engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously, leading to greater calorie burn.
Incorporate high-intensity training: Incorporate high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which involves alternating periods of intense exercise with rest, can significantly boost calorie burn.
Increase training duration and frequency: Gradually increase the duration and frequency of your strength training sessions to further enhance calorie expenditure.

Cardio:

Vary your cardio activities: Alternate between different cardio exercises, such as running, swimming, and cycling, to prevent boredom and maintain motivation.

Increase exercise intensity: Gradually increase the intensity of your cardio workouts, such as running at a faster pace or cycling uphill, to burn more calories.

Extend workout duration: As your fitness improves, extend the duration of your cardio workouts to further enhance calorie burn.

Remember, consistency is key to achieving your calorie burn goals. Make exercise a regular part of your routine, and you’ll be on your way to a healthier and fitter you. 

Fuelling your metabolism

In the realm of fitness and weight loss, understanding the impact of exercise on metabolism is crucial. Metabolism, the process by which your body converts food into energy, plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy weight and overall well-being. Strength training, a form of exercise that involves using resistance to build muscle, has emerged as a powerful tool for enhancing metabolic function and promoting weight loss.

Muscle tissue is metabolically active, meaning it burns more calories than fat tissue. By increasing muscle mass through strength training, you can effectively boost your resting metabolic rate (RMR). RMR represents the number of calories your body burns at rest, even when you’re not actively exercising.

Studies have consistently demonstrated the positive effects of strength training on metabolism. A comprehensive review of research published in the journal Sports Medicine found that strength training can increase RMR by up to 7%. This translates to burning more calories throughout the day, even when you’re not exercising.

A notable study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise further validated the metabolic benefits of strength training. The study compared the RMR of individuals who engaged in strength training with those who performed cardio exercises. The results revealed a significant difference, with strength training participants exhibiting an RMR that was 14% higher than the cardio group.

To maximise the metabolic effects of strength training, consider incorporating these strategies:

  1. Focus on compound exercises: Compound exercises, such as squats, lunges, and deadlifts, engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously, leading to greater RMR elevation and EPOC.
  2. Incorporate high-intensity training: High-intensity interval training (HIIT), which involves alternating periods of intense exercise with rest, has been shown to be particularly effective for boosting metabolism.
  3. Maintain consistency: Regular strength training is essential for achieving long-term metabolic benefits. Aim for at least two to three strength training sessions per week.
  4. Strength training, with its ability to increase muscle mass, boost RMR, and trigger EPOC, stands as a powerful tool for enhancing metabolism and promoting weight loss. By incorporating strength training into your fitness routine, you can effectively optimise your body’s energy usage, leading to a healthier and fitter you.

Strength training vs cardio: who is the weight loss champion

In the realm of fitness and weight management, the debate between strength training and cardio often arises. Both forms of exercise offer distinct advantages, leaving many wondering which approach reigns supreme in the battle against excess weight. While both strength training and cardio play valuable roles in weight loss, strength training may hold a slight edge in long-term weight management.

The long-term advantage of strength training

While both strength training and cardio can aid in weight loss, strength training may offer a more sustainable approach for long-term weight management. The increased muscle mass gained through strength training not only boosts RMR but also improves body composition. Body composition refers to the proportion of muscle to fat in your body.

A higher proportion of muscle mass leads to a more efficient metabolism, meaning your body burns more calories at rest and during exercise. This improved body composition can play a crucial role in preventing weight regain, a common challenge for those who lose weight solely through dieting or cardio.

Optimising your weight loss journey

To maximise your weight loss efforts, consider incorporating a combination of strength training and cardio into your fitness routine. Strength training can be done two to three times per week, focusing on compound exercises that engage multiple muscle groups. Cardio can be incorporated on non-strength training days, aiming for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.

Remember, consistency is key to achieving your weight loss goals. Make exercise a regular part of your routine, and you’ll be well on your way to a healthier and fitter you.