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The Great Debate: Is Cardio or Weightlifting Better For Weight Loss?

When talking with new clients either in the gym or online, one of the most common questions that pops up when talking about fat loss is: is cardio or weightlifting better?

There are several answers to this question and when I am explaining my point of view usually what comes out from them is “well I read in a magazine that ______ is better.”

C’mon Nancy, you’re better than that!

I’ll do what I can to help steer you into, what I feel, is the right direction.

Weight Loss 101

What it ultimately comes down to is calories in versus calories out. Weight loss occurs when we expend more calories than what we consume. Quite frankly, you could eat brownies for every meal and lose weight (which sounds fantastic, but not ultimately going to improve our health).

And when it comes to weight loss, keeping our calories in check is typically a daunting task for most. How many people are willing to give up that dessert, or those couple glasses of wine with dinner on majority of nights to lose weight? And that’s what makes weight loss difficult for most.

But, we can also achieve a caloric deficit by exercising.

So what is going to produce results?

Well, actually both cardio and weightlifting can result to weight loss. That answer isn’t saying to stick to one method, but rather combining them if possible.

I understand why people tend to lean to the cardio side of things, reasons being:

  • Getting on a spin bike or putting on running shoes is easy.
  • A lot less expensive, due to not needing a gym membership.
  • People don’t know where to start with weightlifting.
  • People are scared they will become too bulky (which is not true).

And thanks to social media, we are constantly reminded of this image…

And I believe it makes people become nervous entering a gym feeling as if everyone is going to judge them.

Why I believe that weight lifting should take priority towards your weight loss goals.

When it comes down to it, you will probably burn more calories during a cardio session than during a weightlifting session. Potentially, a whole lot more. But it’s what is happening after the workout is key. Once you step of the treadmill you stop burning calories. After a weightlifting session you continue burning calories after. It has different names, but most commonly known as the Thermal Effect of Exercise.

Why does weightlifting burn more calories after completion than cardio?

  1. Weightlifting is causing some microscopic muscular damage. As a result, it takes more energy to be able to repair and recover. Cardio does not cause very much, if any at all, microscopic muscular damage.
  2. Muscles are more metabolically active than fat tissue. So when we have more muscle mass we burn more calories, even at rest (metabolism increases).
  3. Cardio does not help with building muscle. You become skinnier, but don’t tone up your muscles at all.

When it comes down to it, it is ultimately up to the individual what they like doing best. If they absolutely hate lifting weights I’m not going to shove it down their throat till their blue in the face because that’s what I prefer. Whatever gets you active and moving is good for me.

My final say

When it comes to my preferences, I feel you should focus on weightlifting 2-4x per week and supplement with cardio days. Those “off” days still allow you to exercise without causing an insane amount of stress to the body, but still getting work in.

I feel, in my honest opinion, that adding some muscle mass is going to give you the most bang for your buck. And if you’re interested in wanting to build more muscle mass and become a healthier version of you, consider becoming a Morton Fitness Online Client by clicking here.

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