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Which is Better? Cardio or Weights for Weight Loss?

Are you trying to lose fat, but are not sure which is better, cardio or weights for weight loss? Learn how weight training to your exercise regime burns fat.

Quickest Fat-Burner: Cardio or Weights?

Excess body fat is the common health enemy of people around the world. It is associated with multiple physical problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. If you are like many people, you have trouble controlling the amount of body fat you have. Sadly, the problem often becomes worse as you age and lose muscle tone. But no matter your age, you can improve your health by losing excess body fat.

Remember, you should never give up on having a healthy, body but knowing how to get one can be confusing. If you are currently trying to get into shape, you probably wonder which method works more quickly: cardio or weights for weight loss? You may be surprised by the answer. Both methods are excellent ways to get rid of unhealthy fat, but one way has a distinct advantage.

Using Cardio to Burn Fat

You really cannot go wrong with cardio. Cardiovascular activities offer you multiple benefits, and upping your cardio activity is one of the best and fastest ways to burn fat and lose weight. Cardio exercise increases your breathing and blood pumping rates, which works out your lungs and your heart. You’ll also benefit by exercising your large muscles such as those in your torso and legs. You’ll definitely gain strength in those areas if you embrace cardio exercise.

Cardio is also an excellent way to burn calories and lose weight. The total calories burned per half hour depends on several factors, including your current weight, the activity that you choose, and the level of exertion you put forth. A 154 lb. person will burn somewhere between 140 and 295 calories in 30 minutes during cardio activity. Average calorie-burning totals for 30 minutes include:

• Hiking - 185 calories

• Walking - 140 calories

• Running - 295 calories

Of course, simply cutting can result in significant fat loss as well. Your unique metabolism determines how many calories you must burn to lose weight, but in general, you’ll need to burn 3500 extra calories to lose a single pound.

Cardiovascular workouts are excellent for your health and can improve your lungs and heart while helping you lose weight. However, while cardio is a good way to lose fat, weights are better. Weight training will help you trim more fat while improving your body shape and building lean muscles.


Weight training, or resistance training, is often known as bodybuilding, a way to increase your strength and develop bigger and/or more defined muscles. Weight training also burns calories. For instance, weightlifting for 30 minutes should burn somewhere between 90 and 126 calories depending on your body weight. More intense weight lifting can up that amount to between 180 and 252 calories every 30 minutes. Your heart and lungs do not get the same benefit from weight training as they do from cardio, but you can lose weight, which will naturally result in some fat loss.

But weight training works in other ways to reduce your fat level. When your body encounters enough resistance, it begins to build more lean muscle. Lean muscle increases your metabolism which then burns more calories and fat. Plus, lean muscle continues to burn calories long after your weight training session is over. Your body will keep on burning fat cells even if you go home and sit in a chair after your workout.

But weight training goes even further when it comes to shrinking fat reserves. A new study has shown that weight training may actually alter your body’s relationship with fat cells. This type of exercise changes the way your fat cells operate through a process called mechanical loading. When you lift, push, or pull, you stress your muscles. Then the cells in these muscles release a substance that communicates with your fat cells, triggering them to begin burning fat. And this process doesn’t end with the affected muscles; it can cause you to burn fat throughout your body.

Both cardio and weights are effective ways to lose weight and burn fat, but weight training has the edge over cardio when it comes to losing fat. Consistent weight training will help you get rid of unhealthy fat more quickly than cardio and also sculpt your body by building lean muscle.

That’s not to say that weights are better than cardio exercise. Most health professionals would recommend that you do both in order to maximize the health benefits. Weights do not give you the same heart and lung workout that cardio does, and you can’t be healthy if your heart and lungs are not. A combination of both methods should give your body the most benefit.

Fat-burning Cardio Workouts

Cardio exercises will help you lose fat by increasing weight loss. Some of the best calorie-burning activities are:

• Running

• Bicycling

• Circuit training

• Stationary bicycling

• Aerobic dance

• Rowing machine

• Jogging

Again, your body weight and the intensity of your workout will dictate exactly how many calories you burn, but the above exercises burn approximately 400 - 800 calories per hour.

Fat-burning Weight Exercises

You should begin weight exercises using minimal weights or just your body weight. You can then build up to heavier weights as you progress. These exercises are fast fat-burners because they engage multiple muscle groups at one time as well as trigger fat cells to shrink.

• Squats

• Deadlift - lifting weights from the floor to your waist.

• Lunges

• Kettlebell swing

• Push-ups

• Pull-ups

• Bench press

Again, when you begin using weights, you must begin slowly and increase the weight gradually to avoid injury.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to answering the question: "Cardio or weights for weight loss," it isn’t a question of either-or. A healthy fat-burning regime should include both types of exercise. But weight training will burn fat more quickly due to complex body processes at the cellular level. Lean muscle burns more fat, so developing more of it puts you into a fantastic cycle of fat-burning. Also, new studies show that weight training triggers fat cells to shrink, allowing you to lose fat long after your workout is over. If you haven’t made weight training part of your fat-loss strategy before, you definitely should now.

Getting healthy means embracing a number of healthy lifestyle choices, including exercise, healthy eating, and lowering stress. Developing a personalized exercise regime is a great way to begin your fitness journey.


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