Health & Fitness

Is cardio or strength training best for fat loss?

Over the years, many gym-goers have been confused by the never-ending debate around cardio and strength training. Whilst they both have many benefits for your body, the conversation as to which one is better for your body when it comes to fat loss, will not die out.

Although both cardio and strength training have their place within an exercise routine, there are benefits to both being consistently utilized. So, why is the debate even a thing? Well, put simply, it’s because weightlifters will have a different regime and fitness goals than cardio enthusiasts. It is often discussed because there is a difference of opinion as to whether strength training or cardio is better for fat loss.

Cardio vs strength training

There is a steady stream of opinion within this debate as the two types of exercise offer different results. Whilst you’re more likely to burn more calories during a cardio session, your metabolism is more likely to stay elevated for a longer period after a strength training workout.

Generally, longer, low-intensity workouts will burn more calories than weight-training, during the actual workout. Whilst, on the other hand, high-intensity workouts such as strength training will have the ‘afterburn effect’, meaning you’ll continue to burn calories even after you’ve finished working out.

Also Read: The afterburn effect…How does it work?

Now, the ‘afterburn effect’ is excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). This translates the number of calories that are expanded to recover after you’ve finished a workout. The impact of this is more affected but the intensity of the workout, rather than the duration.

For example, an exercise such as jogging which is low-intensity, will not induce much EPOC, as once the workout is over your metabolism returns to its original state. Whereas, caloric expenditure continues after strength training workouts as they are more intense.

Most professionals would agree that a combination of both cardio and strength training is best. This will help your body to burn more calories after training and during your cardio days.

There is more to this than fat loss

Obviously both cardio and strength are great for fat loss. The cardio is adding to your calorie burn and the weight training is improving your muscle mass and toning your body. However, not only that but cardio and great for your heart health and can help lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

When you’re consistent with weight training, it’ll help build your muscle mass and strong bones that decrease as you age. However, strength training can slow this process down and improve your overall health. It can also be a great way to help reduce feelings of depression or anxiety.

When cardio and strength training isn’t a match

The combination of strength training and cardio workouts is unbeatable. However, there may be times when you may prioritize one over the other, dependent on your goals.

Also Read: Seven tips to boost your energy levels

For example, a bodybuilder would be focussing on strength training and building muscles whilst an athlete may be focused on cardio to better than endurance and power.

The benefits of muscle mass

Basically, the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you’ll burn. This is because muscle is metabolically active and will burn more calories than fat. Muscle burns roughly six calories an hour per pound, whilst fat is only two calories an hour per pound. So, in a 24-hour period, one pound of muscle will burn 96 more calories than one pound of fat.

If you’re doing all cardio workouts and find that you’re not hitting your body goals, perhaps add in some strength training to build muscle and increase your calorie burn.

The bottom line

The most important thing to remember when it comes to working out is that you need to make time for it. Scheduling your workouts into your week is so important as you’re more likely to stick to it and then form a habit. Take a look at your goals and what you want to achieve and then work on your exercise routine to maximize your results.

Ready to smash those body goals?

Whether you’re going to prioritize cardio, strength training or a combination of the two, we know you’ll smash it.

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