Cardio vs Weights - Which Is Best For Fat Loss?

When it comes to fat loss, you may think cardio is superior… but is it really?

Whilst fat loss ultimately comes down to being in a calorie deficit, the types of workouts you do will impact the rate in which fat loss is achieved.

So should you be sweating it out on the treadmill, or lifting like a beast in the weights room? We’ve got all the answers! 

Which burns more calories: cardio or weights? 

Most people assume that cardio is the only form of exercise for fat loss. Whilst that isn’t true, cardio still does have its place. 

Cardio workouts do tend to burn more calories than resistance training. This is because cardio greatly elevates the heart rate and works multiple muscles at once. Whilst this sounds incredible, if you were only doing cardio workouts, you’d have to do cardio most days of the week to get the benefits.

Weight training burns less calories per session compared to cardio, however, weight training produces the ‘afterburn effect’ (also known as post-exercise oxygen consumption). This means that your body will continue to burn more calories after the workout is complete! 

Which increases metabolic rate: cardio or weights?

Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) significantly contributes to the amount of calories you naturally burn each day. So which form of exercise increases your BMR the most? The answer is… weights! 

Weight training has been proven to significantly increase BMR. In fact, resistance training can increase the amount of calories your body burns at rest by up to 245 calories each day! (1). This substantial metabolic increase means your body will burn more calories each day and fat loss will be achieved more easily. 

How about cardio? The evidence shows that cardio has no effect on BMR, meaning that cardio does not increase your metabolic rate (2). 

Which promotes greater fat loss: cardio or weights? 

*Drum roll please*... cardio, OR a combination of cardio AND weight training are equally as effective in promoting fat loss! (3). 

Cardio should be part of your exercise routine if fat loss is your goal, however, so should weight training! Not only will you get the fat loss benefits, but doing both forms of training increases your lean muscle mass, which gives you a more shapely physique as your body weight starts to reduce (3). 

One of the most effective methods is to do strength training sessions followed by a short amount of cardio (yes, you should do weights FIRST, not the other way around!). This is because your muscles need as much energy as possible to lift heavy — the cardio at the end of the session will ramp up the fat burning element when your body is already in a state of some energy depletion from the weights. 

Are you ready to burn fat the LSF way? 

Girls, if fat loss is your goal, then the GOAL GETTER challenge is for you! Within the challenge, you’ll get to pick the Get Lean training program, which is 8 weeks of workouts designed to accelerate fat burning. Workouts are based on weight training, with some added cardio so you get all the benefits!

So what are you waiting for? Finally reach your fat loss goals and join GOAL GETTER today! 

Loz xx

1. Staves, J., Zeigler, M., & Bayles, M. (2018). Six weeks of moderate functional resistance training increases basal metabolic rate in sedentary adult women. International Journal of Exercise Science, 11(2), 32-41.
2. MacKenzie-Shalders et al. (2020). The effect of exercise interventions on resting metabolic rate: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Sports Sciences, 14, 1635-1649.

3. Effects of aerobic and/or resistance training on body mass and fat mass in overweight or obese adults. Journal of Applied Physiology, 113(12), 1831-1837. 

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