Which is Better for Weight Loss – Cardio or Weights?
One of the most frequently asked questions of fitness trainers today is, “Which is better for weight loss, cardio or weights?”. For a long time, cardio has been considered the best exercise for weight loss. More recently, however, strength training has appeared as the must-do fitness regime for speeding up your metabolism. A faster metabolism may mean you even lose weight while you sleep.
So what should you believe?
Luckily for us mere mortals there are people out there with the time and patience to take care of the research behind this. To try and get an answer once and for all, Duke University Medical Centre researchers conducted the largest study of its kind. They created a ‘Cardio vs Weights’ experiment.
For 8 months they tracked 119 volunteers who were overweight and previously inactive. The volunteers were split into 3 groups:
- Just cardio
- Resistance training
- Cardio + Resistance training.
The results of the experiment were very interesting and helpful for forming an answer to the Weights vs Cardio debate. The cardio group, who mainly worked out on treadmills or elliptical machines, lost an equal amount of weight and fat as the cardio + weights group, despite the shorter overall workout time. The weights-only group lost the least amount of weight.
So, perhaps the question you now need to ask yourself is what do I mean by lose weight? Just losing weight may mean that you are losing lean mass as well as fat. Here is what happens when you do just cardio or just weights;
Losing Weight with Cardio
Minute for minute cardio undoubtedly burns more calories than strength/weight training. This is why performing aerobic exercisers means you will lose more weight in less time. Cardiovascular exercise also has other health benefits, especially for your heart, but it’s also a great stress buster. Muscle tone, however, is not improved by cardio alone and you may be left with a ‘soft’ physique after your weight loss. This is because you are losing ‘lean mass’ as well as fat.
Losing Weight with Weights
Though weights won’t put you on the fast track to weight loss, strength training is still important for weight management. In fact you may event gain a few pounds to start with. However, when you build muscle, you increase your metabolic rate because maintaining bigger muscles means your body burns more calories. Even while you sleep!
Everyone loses muscle mass with age as it is part of the metabolic slowdown that comes with middle age. However, regular strength training perks up a sluggish metabolism and prevents weight gain whilst creating a toned and more muscular physique.
Like cardio, weight training also has other benefits for your health. It increases bone density, which prevents the onset of osteoporosis, and increases glucose handling, which aids in the prevention of type II diabetes.
So, Which is Best for Weight Loss?
The answer is a combination of both. The best solution is a fitness plan that includes both cardio and strength training. Cardio will help you to burn the calories faster and lifting weights will help you to create a toned physique, as well as increasing your metabolism to help burn more calories.