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Should You Do Cardio Or Weight Lifting For Fat Burning

When trying to lose weight you want to get the most out of your workouts. Find out whether cardio or weight lifting is best for fat burning.

Losing weight can take long enough as it is. There are ways you can approach your weight loss journey smarter instead of having to work harder.

A lot of people assume cardio is better for calorie burning because of the common view of someone trying to lose weight. Sweating on a hometrainer while barely eating anything.

Is this really the best way to lose weight? Is cardio really better than weight lifting for fat burning?

What exactly is cardio

Cardio exercise is the kind of exercise that gets your heart beating by a moderate amount. Normally, you are able to this kind of exercise for a long time since it’s not too intense.

Examples of cardio are jogging at a low tempo, using the stair climber, bicyling, rowing,…

If you want to be 100% certain you are doing cardio you would measure your heart beat during exercise and stay under 80% of your maximum heart rate.

Your maximum heart rate is a very personal thing but a general rule is by doing 220- your age.

A more subjective way of measuring is exercising at a temp at which you can still have a chat with a friend.

You usually perform traditional cardio on a treadmill an elliptical stair climber a bike or even on a rowing machine. Cardio is an aerobic training, exercise that depends primarily on the aerobic energy-generating process.

Weight training

On the other hand traditional weight training where you lift a heavy weight load for a certain amount of reps before taking a break. Then you repeat for more sets. This workout is considered anaerobic training, physical exercise intense enough to cause lactate to form.

With anaerobic training oxygen alone cannot supply enough energy to meet the demands placed on the body. Glycogen from the muscles is primarily used to fuel the activity.

Generally speaking, you’ll burn more calories for each session of cardio than weight training for about the same amount of effort. Minute per minute, cardio burns more calories.

weight lifting for fat burning

That’s not the end of cardio vs weight lifting

So if we’re looking at the numbers during exercise, cardio takes the lead in terms of calorie burning.

However, that’s not the only part of the story. The right kind of exercise can also help you burn more calories long after.

At first this sounds kind off strange. How can exercising burn calories after you’ve stopped moving?

Exercising helps you increase muscle mass. Your body is always burning calories to keep itself alive, even for example when you are sleeping. Your heart needs to keep beating, your body needs to keep doing its several processes to keep you alive. And it uses energy for this.

Now, the more you weigh, the more calories your body uses to do all these things. And on top of that, the same weight in muscle burns slightly more calories than the same amount of fat. It’s also a lot healthier (and looks better).

This is a big reason why weight loss plateaus show up regularly. You lose weight, this makes it so you burn less calories, the habits that previously put you in weight loss modus are not enough anymore.

Cardio and weight lifting can help burn fat

So, if you’re looking for long term weight loss and you have to choose between the two, weight lifting will be the most time-efficient kind of workout. It will multiply all the calories you burn throughout the day (and night).

If you’re looking to burn the most calories in the next 60 minutes, cardio is probably your best bet.

You can also combine the two for ultimate fat burning. If you plan on doing them in the same workout session it’s best to to the weight lifting first.

However, the best workout plan for you isn’t always the one that burns the most calories. For example, if you absolutely hate doing weight lifting, chances are you won’t be consistent with it. Exercise that doesn’t get done doesn’t burn any calories.


Matt Claes

Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.