Strength Training vs Cardio: Which is Better for Fat Loss?
Overall, when it comes to fat loss, most people think that cardio is the only way to lose fat.
And that is the reason why they keep running and running but still look fat.
Let’s get this straight, if your goal is to lose weight, then cardio is the way to go.
However, if you want to lose fat, spending hours and hours on a treadmill is not a smart way.
In fact, research shows that strength training plays a very important role in your fat loss process.
And I’m pretty sure that a lot of people wonder why some gym rats in their gym are so lean even though they do nothing but strength or resistance training.
Therefore, if you are trying to burn fat, not weight, just choose strength training over cardio.
The reasons why strength training is better than cardio for fat loss
1. Strength training helps increase metabolism while steady-state cardio decreases it
The first reason why strength training is better than cardio is that it helps boost your metabolism which is a number of calories you burn throughout the day when you do nothing but breathe.
In details, doing steady-state cardio for hours can help you burn hundreds of calories while you are exercising.
Hence, you’ll go back to your normal metabolism rate once you stop running. So even if you burn 1000 calories on a treadmill or any cardio machine in the gym, that will be the total number.
Weight lifting or strength training, on the other hand, builds muscle effectively and for those who don’t know, the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism is.
And if your metabolism is faster, your total energy expenditure will be higher. In another word, although strength training doesn’t help you burn more calories than cardio during workouts, it still burns more calories throughout the day.
2. Strength training can improve aesthetics better
As I mentioned above, strength training helps us build muscle mass, strength and makes us lean at the same time while cardio makes us skinny and floppy.
That’s why so many guys out there decide to choose weight training as the base of their workouts and there is nothing wrong with that. We all want to look muscular with a big chest and vascular arms, right?
But, is that also true for women? Does weight training make them bigger or bulky?
Well, it is the fact that so many girls out there are afraid to lift weights just because they think lifting weights can make them huge bulky or big like men. Well, let’s get this straight, it’s impossible for females to get big, bulky muscles like males.
Remember that testosterone is a primary muscle-building hormone and women can’t produce as much testosterone as men.
That means, no matter how hard you train or lift weights, you can never get big like us, ladies. Actually, it only helps you get stronger, increase more muscular definition and especially, look sexier with a nice round lifted booty and a round bubble butt.
And, if you do cardio only, then all you have is a skinny body with chicken legs and flat butt. So tell me, do you really want to look like this?
3. Strength training is more interesting
I don’t know about you but for me, spending 1 hour on the same cardio machine is not fun at all.
Of course, cardio can be a little bit more interesting if you do it outside but it’s still quite boring because you have to do the same movement over and over again.
On the contrary, weight training is way more interesting and challenging as there are tons of movements for people of all fitness levels.
So you can do any exercise you want to do to achieve your fitness goal. Furthermore, another reason why I don’t choose cardio is that it is much more time-consuming.
To be honest, with strength training, you only need to spend 45 minutes, not hours, doing some heavy compound lifts and you can go home.
4. With weight training, you are less likely to overtrain or have injuries
It is not that cardio is bad for your body but doing it too much can put a fair amount of stress on your joints and muscles.
That’s why runners may have injuries resulted from weakness in the core and hip-stabilizing muscles. Specifically, the inherent imbalanced that cardio creates within our body because of the limited range of motion, as well as repetitive movement patterns, can cause overtraining injuries, especially to our knees.
However, resistance or strength training can actually protect your joints and reduce the risk of injuries since there are a wide variety of exercises which help improve your mobility and flexibility.
Therefore, you can strengthen the imbalances and prioritize movements which steady-state cardio don’t train effectively.
Enough with the science, what should we now do to maximize fat loss?
1. Focus on heavy compound lifts
As mentioned above, lifting weights help you increase metabolism, and therefore, burning more calories throughout the day. However, it doesn’t mean you should go to the gym and do exercises like pec-deck flyes or seated calf raise.
Keep in mind that it’s essential for you to determine what exercises you need to do in the gym because not all of them are good for you.
In this case, you want to build muscle, so heavy compound lifts are what you’re looking for.
A lot of people may tell you to lift light weights for fat loss but trust me, nothing is more effective at building muscle increasing metabolism than heavy weights and compound movements like squat, deadlift.
2. Don’t skip the cardio anyway
Now, everyone knows that strength training is better than steady-state cardio. But should you neglect cardio and only do strength training?
Well, the question is “No, you shouldn’t”. This is because cardio is still necessary for improving your cardiovascular health as well as endurance. So it’s still very important to do cardio no matter whether you are trying to lose fat or not.
In my experience, you should spend 45-60 minutes lifting weights before doing 15 minutes of cardio. This way, you can both gain muscle and burn some quick calories.
3. Try high-intensity interval training instead of steady-state cardio
If you still want to run but steady-state cardio is too boring for you, then try HIIT. With this kind of training, you can still maintain muscle mass and save a lot of time.
Generally, sprint training, unlike moderately intense endurance work, helps retain muscle, thus, maintaining a high metabolism.
Basically, HIIT provides you a stressor on your muscles which mimics strength training more than distance running does.
However, there are exceptions. Specifically, if you eat too few calories and still do strength training and sprint workouts frequently, you will probably lose not only fat but also muscle which is not good at all.
Both steady-state cardio and strength training are effective in losing fat but strength training can help you burn fat and.
However, strength training seems to be better because it not only helps burn fat but also improves your appearance.
More importantly, while running is a pretty high-impact exercise that is not suitable for people over 50, you can strength train forever by modifying the level of difficulty.