A lot of people think that doing aerobic (cardio) exercises in combination with cutting back the calories is the best way to lose weight, while others think it’s strength training that is better for weight loss.
So which should you do, cardio or strength training?
A number of studies have found that the best results for weight loss come from combining cardio and strength training. One study showed that people who did six days a week of cardio training, did less well than those who did three days each of cardio and strength training. Those who combined both had the best results for losing fat and increasing muscle mass.
Not only are they great at helping you lose weight (and keep it off), but you also get many health and fitness benefits as well.
The number of calories you burn during (and after) exercise also depends on things like your body size, the type of exercise you’re doing, how much muscle is working, how long you’re exercising for and how intense it is.
Also known as aerobic activity, cardio involves you using large large muscle groups repeatedly over a period of time. This includes things like walking, running, swimming and cycling.
- Cardio workouts typically burn more calories than a resistance training workout of the same duration.
- Cardio can help make your heart stronger, lower blood pressure, improve your mood and aid sleep.
- Compared to resistance training, cardio is not as effective at maintaining or increasing your muscle mass.
- After finishing cardio exercise, your metabolic rate soon drops back to normal levels
Also know as weight training, resistance training involves using bodyweight, machines or free weights (e.g. barbells) for a number of repetitions. This includes things like press ups and squats.
- Resistance training doesn’t usually burn as many calories as a cardio exercise while your doing it.
- Even many hours after finishing a resistance training workout, you’ll still be burning calories at a higher rate compared to cardio exercise.
- Resistance training can help you maintain or increase muscle mass, have a higher metabolism, stronger bones and reduce chronic pain.
So, whatever exercise you do. Make sure you aim to include cardio and resistance training within it.
– J. Donnelly et al. Appropriate physical activity intervention strategies for weight loss and prevention of weight regain for adults. American College of Sports Medicine position stand. 2009
– K. Schmitz et al. Strength training and adiposity in pre-menopausal women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2007, 86, 566 – 572.
– K. Park et al. The affect of combined aerobic and resistance exercise training on abdominal fat in middle-aged women. Journal of Physiological Anthropology and Applied Human Science. 2003, 22(3), 129 – 135.