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Is strength training or cardio training more effective for weight loss?

The most important number you should know when it comes to losing weight is your resting metabolic rate (RMR). The RMR is basically how many calories your body will burn while in a resting state, an example of this state is sleeping. You can find a location to get your RMR tested, you can use existing mathematical formulas, or you can use a product like an Exerspy to get your caloric burn calculated.  Once this number is identified, you need to add up the number of calories burned throughout your activity and exercise taking place during the day. Once these numbers are ascertained, you add them together with your RMR to get your total caloric burn.

Wendy Batts
Fitness Specialist

Both forms are important for successful weight loss. To lose weight, the amount of calories we eat from food needs to be less than the amount of calories we burn throughout the day. Both strength training and cardio are beneficial forms of exercise that you can do to assist in burning more calories. Our muscle tissue is very metabolically active, meaning that it requires a lot of energy (calories) for our bodies to maintain. Therefore, strength training is extremely important because it forces the body to maintain muscle tissue even if our caloric intake is reduced; cardio training does not necessarily force the body to do this. However, cardio training helps burn large amounts of calories per session and keep the heart and lungs healthy, making the body more efficient in delivering energy and oxygen to the muscles (which aids in burning fat). So really, cardio and strength training are like peanut butter and jelly – they are good alone, but much better when matched together!

Dr. Mike Clark, DPT
Fitness Specialist
Moving more and eating less is the most effective strategy for long term weight loss. I recommend that you incorporate both cardio and strength training into your exercise plan. Strength training will help you build more strength and muscle. This will allow you to burn more calories at rest
Both forms of training are very effective for weight loss. Weight loss will occur anytime you burn more calories than you consume. Therefore, both cardio and strength training are an essential component of any successful weight loss program. Cardio type exercise will help burn calories while strength training helps to produce lean muscle mass. The more muscle mass you have the more calories you will burn. Proper nutrition is also a critical part of any successful weight loss plan. You can do as much cardio and strength training as you want but in the end if you are still fueling your body with poor nutritional choices you will not see any weight loss.

Both strength training and cardio are beneficial forms of exercise that one can do to assist in burning more calories throughout the day. Losing weight is all about managing calories intake and calories use. To lose weight the amount of calories we take in from food needs to be less than the amount of calories we burn on a daily basis. Muscle tissue is very metabolically active meaning that it requires a lot of energy (calories) to maintain. Therefore, strength training is extremely important because it forces the body to maintain muscle tissue even if our caloric intake is reduced; cardio training does not necessarily force the body to do this.

The answer is a beautiful combination of both. Doing cardiovascular training can burn more calories because there is very little rest, but resistance training helps to create tone, helps to put lines in your body, and also increases your caloric burn after your workout. Also, your body does not know whether you are running on a treadmill, rowing a boat, climbing a mountain, or lifting weights, so resistance training in circuit can be done as a form of cardio.  And, let’s not forget the importance of diet as a weight loss component.

Both forms of training complement the other. Strength training allows the user to create muscle size and strength, the benefit in this is that muscle burns more calories at rest. In combination with low to moderate intensity cardiovascular work, body fat is more efficiently used for fuel for the workouts and subsequently a change in body composition. Be aware that muscle takes up less space than fat, yet weighs more than fat, therefore numbers on the scale can be deceptive.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.