Cardio vs Weight Lifting: Which Is Better for Weight Loss?

Weight loss isn’t easy, and one aspect of trying to achieve it is deciding if you should focus on cardio exercise or lifting weights. Since these two are both popular types of workout, it can be difficult deciding which is a better use of your time.

With this in mind we wanted to go through the differences between cardio and weight lifting, to help you get on track with your weight loss goals.

The burning (calories) question

Cardio exercise is a great way to burn away excess calories, and the more you weigh, the more calories you will actually burn. For example, if you weigh just over 11 stone, you can burn around 250 calories for every 30 minutes of jogging you do at a moderate pace. By increasing your jog to a running pace of 6 miles per hour, you could burn around 365 calories in the same amount of time.

If you were to weight lift instead, you would not burn off the same amount of calories over the same amount of time. You’d actually burn off less in 30 minutes than you would doing a cardio activity – around 130 to 220 calories. So, for the same amount of effort per session, cardio will let you shed more calories.

It’s worth noting though that although a cardio workout typically burns more calories than weight training, the latter offers other key benefits.

Building muscle mass

Weight training is of course very beneficial for building muscle, and the more muscle mass you have, the better your body will become at shaving off those unwanted calories at rest. A body with a higher muscle to fat ratio will have an increased resting metabolism, meaning you’ll continue to lose calories after your weight training session.

The amount your resting metabolism is increased through weight lifting is different depending on if you’re a man or a woman. A man’s resting metabolism is increased by roughly 140 calories a day through weight training, but a woman’s is only increased by 50 calories per day. So, although it’s true your metabolism won’t skyrocket by weight training and building muscle mass, it will be boosted a little.

Weight training and high-intensity workouts

Thanks to the affects of your body’s resting metabolism staying elevated for longer, you can actually burn off more calories while resting after weight training, when compared to resting after a cardio session.

This means that the weight shedding benefits of weight training isn’t just limited to when you are actually doing the activity.  Even when you’ve finished your workout, your body will carry on burning calories for hours.

In terms of cardio, if you focus on high-intensity interval training (HIIT) then this will offer you the same weight loss benefits while taking up less time. HIIT involves very short bursts of really intense exercise, followed by low-intensity recovery periods. A variety of exercises can be used in HIIT, such as biking, sprinting and even jumping.  

With HIIT you can spend less time actually doing the activity, as you will be allowed rest periods between the intense bursts of exercise.

So, which is better for weight loss?

It’s important to remember that weight training, combined with good nutrition, will lead to an increase in muscle to replace the fat. Although your overall weight might not change very much, you’ll actually be improving your body composition by lifting weights.

If you combine an exercise regime of cardio plus weight training, then you’ll stand to develop the healthiest physique, as you’ll lose body fat while gaining strong lean muscle. Of course you’ll need the diet to match your exercise in order to reach your optimal health goals.

Committing to a strong exercise routine isn’t enough for weight loss without paying attention to the foods you’re eating. You’ll need at least a moderate reduction in calorie intake combined with your training in order to see real progress.

While it’s true that a cardio activity will burn more calories. Combining it with a weight training program will allow your metabolism to stay elevated for longer afterwards. So it’s always better to try and do both if you want to achieve the best weight loss results possible, and sculpt a healthier, leaner, stronger physique in the process.

Why not combine your exercise regime with our 28 day weight loss meal plan? We’ll take away the stress of knowing what foods to buy and cook to lose weight; by bringing delicious meals to your door each week, leaving you to focus on your training.