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Weight Training Vs Cardio

The age old debate between weight training and cardio. In this Vision PT article, we share why you absolutely need both to achieve your goals!
Fitness and Training
Fitness and Training

By Tobias Norman at Wahroonga

Weight training vs cardio

Which is better for weight loss?


This article is going to explain to you, the reader, why weight training can have the most impact on the fat burning process, when it comes to exercise. Keeping in mind that your exercise program will only have a 30% impact on your ability to lose weight, where your diet will have a 70% affect, that being said however, we will be focusing on that 30% and how to best optimize your time with it. Now don't get me wrong, cardio has its place and does help with the overall process of burning fat but we all have busy lives and trying to fit in one to two hours of cardio can seem somewhat of a stretch. So let's begin.

How does weight training affect the body vs cardio?

First off, I need to explain what anaerobic and aerobic training is as it will play a big role in understanding the following information. Anaerobic exercise, means without oxygen. The body is using stored energy (ATP) as its main fuel source and doesn't require oxygen to perform a movement. As an example, sprinting is considered an anaerobic exercise along with squats. This is because the body doesn't have time to get the oxygen it needs to perform the movement and needs to use its stored energy. Now stay with me here… The last one is aerobic exercise or an exercise that uses oxygen as its main source of energy. Now exercises such as long distance running or cycling would be classified as aerobic as the body is constantly using the oxygen you are inhaling, to power the movement. Now I hope I haven't bombarded you too much here.

It's been the common understanding of most people, inside and outside of the gym, that if you want to lose weight you have to jump on the treadmill for hours on end and must also hate the experience. This just isn't the case. Performing weighted exercises for a significantly shorter amount of time can see the same results achieved and you can have a blast doing it. A study done in 2005, demonstrated that when performing short term anaerobic and aerobic exercise, you will see that anaerobic exercise burn more energy and releases more protein into the blood stream. So what this study showcased is that weight training burns more energy than cardio, when performed at the same time. This is why I believe weight training to be so beneficial when trying to lose weight! You can burn more energy/fat and also do it in a shorter period of time.

I want to ask you a question however, would you like to also burn more fat when you are sitting at work? More than you currently are at the moment? I think the common answer here would be a resounding "YES!" I'm sure you have heard the word "Metabolism" thrown at you by your trainer during your nutrition session one and two? Well a person's basil metabolic rate (BMR) is the rate at which they burn energy/fat at rest. This rate can be affected by your diet, current weight/muscle mass and even your body type. So there is one factor out of the three that I have listed that has the biggest effect on your metabolism, one that you can actively control, and that is your muscle mass. If your bodies' muscles mass increases, so does your metabolism! Which in turn means you are now able to more fat when you are at rest, whether that be watching tv, sitting at work or even sleeping. To add more benefits to weight training, it is the best way to increase your muscle mass (hypertrophy) whereas solely doing long periods of cardio will see a decrease in muscle mass           (atrophy).




Quick summary:

  • You don't have to slug out hours upon hours of just cardio to achieve your results
  • Weight training burns more energy compared to cardio (when performed for the same duration)
  • Weight training increases your muscle mass which increases your metabolism
  • An increased metabolism means you are burning more fat at rest
  • Muscle Hypertrophy is to increase muscle à Muscle Atrophy means a decrease in muscle

All of this being said, your diet and how consistent with you are with it, will have the most effect on you and your body composition. None of what I have said will come to fruition, if the body doesn't have the right energy coming in. This is where I believe most new people to the fitness industry fail, they don't understand that you exercise only has 30% of an effect on changing your bodies composition, where what you eat and when you eat it has a massive 70% effect. Furth more, this article is by no means meant to scare you away from cardio, it's to drill home that weight training doesn't make you a massive body builder, but it can have a massive effect on your weight loss journey. However, like with all good things in life, you must have balance. A balance between; Cardio, weights and your diet in order to achieve your goals. So make sure you hit your weekly cardio hours along with weight training and a good consistent diet.







*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.

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