Cardio vs. Weight Training: Which Is Better for Weight Loss?



Losing weight isn't easy, but dropping pounds – whether a little or a lot – is one of the most common health and fitness goals. One of the most confusing aspects of losing weight is how to get started. Do you need lots of cardio to lose weight or should you start weight training? It can be hard to know which is a better use of your time.


I'll get to the point quickly, both cardio and weights can help you become healthier and more fit. A cardio workout burns more calories in a single session than a weight-training workout. However, your metabolism will stay elevated for longer after weights than cardio, building muscle and burning fat long after you've put the weights down. Thus, the ideal exercise program for improving body composition and health includes cardio, weights, and a good diet.


The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) is one of the largest and most respected organizations that gives exercise recommendations. It has published evidence-based recommendations for weight loss.


How Much Should You Exercise per Week?

Overall, the ACSM states that less than 150 minutes per week of moderate or vigorous physical activity like cardio is probably not enough for weight loss. However, it states that more than 150 minutes per week of this type of physical activity is sufficient to help produce weight loss in most people. In addition, research shows that people tend to lose more body weight when they have higher levels of physical activity.


Which Types of Exercise Should You Do?

Interestingly, ACSM's review of the research found that weight training alone is not very helpful for weight loss. However, it is important to remember that even if your weight doesn't change, your body composition may be improving. For example, weight training can lead to an increase in muscle and a decrease in fat. If your muscle and fat change by the same amount, the scale may stay the same, even though you got healthier.


One large study in 119 overweight or obese adults helps put everything into perspective regarding exercise and weight loss. Participants were divided into three exercise groups: cardio, weights or cardio plus weights. After eight months, those who did cardio and cardio plus weights lost the most weight and fat. Meanwhile, the weights and cardio-plus-weights groups gained the most muscle. Overall, the cardio-plus-weights group had the best body composition changes. They lost weight and fat, while also gaining muscle.This means that a program that combines cardio and weights may be best for improving your body composition.

Let us help with your weight loss journey!


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