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Cardio Vs Weights which is best for weight loss?

Cardio Vs Weights which is best for weight loss? Wellbeing

Cardio Vs Weights which is best for weight loss?

It’s the age old debate, cardio vs weight training for weight loss. Is one more superior than the other or is there a happy balance between the two?

Cardiovascular exercise, such as jogging, brisk walking, swimming, cycling or rowing, to name a few, can improve your health and is an excellent way to strengthen your heart by increasing your heart rate, maintain a healthy weight, or bring about fat loss. And the bonus is you don’t need much or any equipment to kick start your cardio regime. It’s possibly one of the reasons many people gravitate towards cardio over weight training. 

Cardio has been proven to boost mood, reduce anxiety, promote relaxation, and even reduce depression. 

Healthline.com article lists the many benefits of cardio exercise:

  • Improved heart health
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Helps regulate blood sugar
  • Enhanced brain health
  • Increased metabolic rate/Weight regulation
  • Improved mood and energy
  • Stronger immune system
  • Improves sleep
  • Improve balance/reduce risk of falls

There are also different forms of cardio. HIIT cardio is great when you are short on time or want to burn a ton of calories in a shorter time frame. Steady state cardio is great if you want an easier time preserving muscle mass without the intensity. 

Experts recommend getting at least 150 minutes of steady state aerobic exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week – So that’s 5 x 15 minute HIIT Workouts on The Fitness in 15 Platform.

In the short term cardio is great and will help you get towards your weight loss goals but cardio alone is not the best solution in the long run.

Sure, it burns more calories in the same time span as a standard weight lifting session, but that's where it stops. 

Long term, your body is built for survival and learns to adapt (especially if you are doing cardio to lose weight and are in a deficit of calories). Your body learns to make you more efficient at burning less and less calories each week that you keep doing cardio on a diet. Ever felt like your progress has halted?

There is also the risk of overdoing it. Intense cardio tends to attract a certain type of personality, the type who like to feel the intense burn - maybe that's you!

The risk here is, if you are doing HIIT 6 times a week AND eating a low amount of calories (as is often deemed the quickest way to lose fat) there is every risk you are running yourself into the ground and will burn out.

Put simply, intense cardio and minimal calories isn’t sustainable, which is why so many people embark on a weight loss journey and end up complaining they aren’t losing any more weight even though they workout so much and eat so little. Sound familiar?

So let us look at resistance based strength training. This style of exercise doesn’t give you the quick results you may get from cardio, which is probably why so many are deterred from starting weight training in the first place. However it creates positive, long term metabolic effects on the body. Put simply, the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at REST. Winner winner!

When you lift weights you put your muscles under load, so then after your session they need to repair and grow in order to keep up with this stress you keep giving them each session. As per our point earlier, your body is built for survival so it will adapt according to what your body is being regularly put through. 

Lifting weights also allows you to get stronger in a functional way that replicates other movements you do in your day to day living. All those knee issues, and aches you might get from running can be worked out through a proper lifting program. This is due usually to imbalances and muscle weakness on the body (perfectly normal). Cardio alone can’t provide enough of a stimulus to continually grow your muscles and improve functional fitness.

There is a downside to lifting heavy if that’s ALL you do, you are completely negating taking care of your heart health. Resistance training alone doesn’t provide enough stimulus to increase your aerobic capacity and challenge your endurance. 

There are options you can do which cover both such as tabata and weighted circuit training, but when it comes to effective weight loss and looking after your long term health, the solution is you need to be doing both! 

By throwing in cardio you can build up that endurance that will, without doubt, benefit your weight training days. If you create a bigger metabolic capacity you’ll be able to perform longer in the gym and more importantly, in your day to day life. And if you are short on time or prefer to get all your training done in one session, you can even combine the two. By doing movements like supersets, or circuits, that give some of the weight training stress coupled with the stamina earned doing these movements in succession of each other with little to no break. 

So in summary, a little bit of both cardio and weight training will serve you best when it comes to a balanced exercise routine. Not sure where to start? We have 15 minute workouts covering all styles of cardio and weight training. Why not try our platform for FREE today.