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Why Weights Are Better Than Cardio For Fat Loss

Updated: Oct 26, 2019



If you read the headline of this article and were intrigued or skeptical, then good. The debate between whether cardio or weights is best for fat loss has continued on for decades and the goal of this article is simply to create some logical arguments that the latter is better than the former.


However, before we get started, it is important to point out a couple key things:


1) Cardio is not worthless. You have a heart (despite what your friends or significant other may tell you) and it is the most important muscle in the body. That means you need to exercise it! However, there are many ways to increase your heart rate and practice your recovery – weight training is one of them.


2) A great exercise program should include BOTH cardio and weights, but if you’re trying to lose fat and have minimal time each week, then there is clearly a winner when it comes to which will serve you best.


3) Nutrition is the #1 key to fat loss – it is way easier to control caloric intake than it is to control caloric expenditure. If your nutrition isn’t in check, then neither form of exercise will save you.


Ok, now that we have that out of the way, here are the compelling reasons why lifting weights is better for fat loss than cardio:


Muscle Is Important

Building and maintaining at least a fair amount of muscle is important and not just to pick your kids up or help your friends move. Building a moderate amount of muscle will reduce your chance of injury and make look better in your beach gear as well as increase your metabolism. While the jury is still out on exactly how many more calories your body burns per pound of muscle, it is clear that there is a positive effect on burning extra calories and on controlling blood sugar.


Weightlifting is far superior to traditional cardio such as running or biking at building muscle and as that body fat starts to come off you’re going to finally achieve that “toned” or “athletic” look that you are likely trying to achieve. Not to mention that if you’re already cutting calories to lose weight, lifting weights is the best way to keep the muscle mass you already posses whereas just performing cardio could actually cause you to lose muscle.


Weightlifting Can Be Cardio

When most people think of cardio they typically consider the traditional forms – running, swimming, biking, and other similar activities. However, one concept that is gaining popularity is simply lifting weights in a faster or more intense fashion. If we really think about what the purpose of cardio is (to increase the heart rate multiple times per session in order to improve recovery) then we realize that we can actually lift weights in a manner that will accomplish that same goal.


To do so, we must perform more than one exercise in succession before resting or reduce our rest time in between sets. That doesn’t mean form should go out the window, but rather we should use moderately heavy weights as opposed to maximal ones and often choose exercises that are non-competing (don’t use the same muscles). Not only will this get the heart rate up, but it will also increase the amount of work completed in the training session which means more results in the gym with less time commitment.


You Want To Age Gracefully

While we may want to look like a model today, we also have to consider that what we do with our bodies today will affect our lives in the future. Lifting weights not only builds muscle which will reduce injury potential and increase balance and coordination, but it will also improve bone density. All of those benefits will make the aging process easier and more pleasant. Not to mention that it is much easier to maintain a solid training regimen over time as opposed to trying to get started late in life.


Performing a significant amount of traditional cardio, on the other hand, can be a bit problematic. Running, for example, can subject the body and joints to a lot of impact and over-use injuries over time. We only get one body so it’s important that we are making good decisions on how we care for it.


Think you’d like to start a consistent weight training program but don’t know what to do or where to begin? Click here to meet with a coach in person and find out how we can help you be successful.

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