One of the most common reasons people have for starting their fitness journey is because they want to lose weight/burn fat to change how their body looks and improve their health. There are two key exercise strategies that are applied to try reach this goal: cardiovascular exercise (cardio) and resistance training in the form of weightlifting (lifting). Cardio and Lifting are both great forms of exercise and have a variety of benefits but they both contribute differently to fat loss. In this blog, we will compare these two in terms of their impact on weight loss to help you understand them better.
Fat is stored energy in the body and when discussing fat loss, you need to talk about calories burned. For your body to burn fat, you need to be burning more energy than you are consuming, so burning more calories than you are eating.
Cardio: Cardio exercises, such as running, cycling, swimming, and aerobics, are excellent for burning calories during the workout. They elevate your heart rate and increase energy expenditure, which helps in creating a calorie deficit, a crucial factor in fat loss.
Lifting: Weightlifting also burns calories during the workout, but the calorie burn might not be as significant as cardio, especially during a single session.
On average one hour of lifting weights will burn 300 calories, whereas one hour of running can burn double that in the range of 600 calories. Please note, these numbers are just benchmarks and will vary greatly based on individual differences like height, weight, age etc.
In simple terms, your metabolism is essentially the process of the body breaking down food and converting that food into energy. Your metabolism is heavily influenced through your lifestyle and exercise plays a role in this.
Cardio: Cardio workouts primarily focus on burning calories during the exercise itself. While some forms of cardio, like high-intensity interval training (HIIT), can boost your metabolism for a short period after the workout, the overall effect on your resting metabolic rate is usually temporary.
Lifting: Resistance training, on the other hand, contributes to an increase in lean muscle mass. Having more muscle increases how many calories your body burns at rest since muscle requires more energy than fat to sustain itself. This means that having more muscle can boost your basal metabolic rate (BMR) in the long term. Having a higher metabolic rate makes losing fat significantly easier since your body burns more calories meaning you can eat more food/calories while still losing weight in comparison than someone with less muscle mass.
Cardio: Cardio exercises are effective for burning fat and can lead to overall weight loss, including both fat and muscle mass. However, depending solely on cardio for weight loss might result in some muscle loss, which could be counterproductive in the long run.
Lifting: Resistance training supports fat loss while preserving and building muscle mass. This can lead to improved body composition, making you look leaner and more toned even if the scale does not show a significant decrease in weight.
Both cardio and weightlifting have their place in a well-rounded fitness routine. For weight loss specifically, combining both approaches can lead to reaching your goals the fastest. Cardio aids in burning calories and improving cardiovascular health, while lifting helps maintain or increase muscle mass, which in turn supports long-term weight management and overall body composition. For best results, consider incorporating a mix of cardio and weightlifting exercises into your workout routine while also focusing on a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.