In the case of cardio vs. weight training for weight loss, there are many arguments from both sides. Cardio still remains a popular form of physical activity for those who wish to fry their body fat, but weight training has quickly gained the reputation of a great fat burner as well. Either way, the general rule is: you burn more calories by doing high-intensity training than you do by doing low-intensity training.
Yet, a lot of people forget that the majority of calories you burn are through the resting metabolic rate – the energy required to keep you alive with no activity. Having more lean muscle mass increases your RMR (resting metabolic rate – the energy that a person needs to survive without any activity), and weight training is better at preserving lean body mass compared to aerobic training.
In other words, the more cardio you do, the more your strength and growth will be negatively affected due to excessive stresses put on both the central nervous system and working muscles, causing your fat and muscles to shrink down at the same time. And when you lose muscle, your resting metabolic rate drops, which means you’ll burn less calories when you’re not in the gym, i.e. during the bigger part of the day.
Cardio often fails to deliver significant results in people who are trying to lose a lot of weight, but this is not a reason to dismiss it altogether – it brings many benefits, like improved heart health, increased metabolism and improved recovery ability. But when it comes to burning as much fat as you can as fast as possible, weight training has proved itself to be far superior, compared to the average cardio workout.
Sprinting is a different story, though – hard sprints can affect your metabolic rate on a similar way as weight training does, but they are rather tough and exhausting.
The fact is that any type of high-intensity training is excellent for fat loss because it raises your metabolism and causes you to burn a lot of calories long after the activity is done. That being said, your performance will benefit the most from combining high intensity workouts with less intense cardio exercises.
The intense parts will boost your metabolism and push your body to burn a ton of fat, while the cardio will speed up the recovery, improve your endurance and increase the efficiency of the whole workout. Studies have shown that you can achieve great results if you combine strength training and aerobic interval training in the same session, which works best if you perform the aerobic training prior to strength training.
This will make your heart pump more blood and oxygen to the muscles and enhance your performance during the strength training, as well as help you fight off fatigue and maintain the efficiency of the workout. Multiple studies support the use of weight training alone or in combination with aerobic training for better preservation of muscle mass while shedding body fat. This combination of increased muscle mass and improved metabolic capacity will make you burn more fat in the long term.
However, if you simply don’t have enough time to squeeze in some cardio in your regular training routine, focus on weight training for optimal results in terms of both strength gains and fat loss. Studies show that strength training can keep your metabolism high up to 38 hours after the workout, which doesn’t apply to cardio. After all, larger muscles burn more calories and more fat – and what better way to gain mass than weight lifting?
But keep in mind that no type of training can make you lose a significant amount of fat on its own – you have to eat right to support your efforts at the gym. The truth is that your diet is responsible for 70% of your success – pair it with some heavy weight training and you’ll get ripped in no time!