Should I do cardio or weight training to lose weight?

cardio vs weight training for weight loss
If you are looking to lose weight you may be wondering which exercise is better to get the job done – cardio sessions or weight lifting?

These are 2 popular types of workouts – let’s look at how each workout works for weight loss.

Cardio Burns More Calories per Session

Scientists have researched how many calories people burn during various activities.

Based on this research, you can use your body weight to estimate how many calories you will burn during different types of exercise, including cardio and weight training. Generally, for most activities, the more you weigh, the more calories you will burn. So, if you weigh 160 pounds (73 kg), you will burn about 250 calories per 30 minutes of jogging at a moderate pace. If you were to run at a faster pace of 6 minutes per kilometer, you would burn around 365 calories in 30 minutes. But, if you weight trained for the same amount of time, you might only burn around 130–220 calories.

In general, you’ll burn more calories per session of cardio than weight training for about the same amount of effort, BUT (and here’s why weight training is so beneficial in weight loss) weight training is more effective than cardio at building muscle, and muscle burns more calories at rest than some other tissues, including fat.

Building muscle is key to increasing your resting metabolism – that is how many calories you burn at rest. So, weight training helps you burn more calories throughout the day.

Specifically, research has shown that you burn more calories in the hours following a weight training session, compared to a cardio workout. Interestingly, there are reports of resting metabolism staying raised for up to 38 hours after weight training, though no such increase has been reported with cardio. This means weight training benefits are not limited to the duration of your exercise session, you may keep burning calories for hours, or even days afterwards. For most types of exercise, a more intense workout will increase the number of calories you burn afterward.

Then we get high intensity interval training  (also known as HIIT) workouts, which provide similar benefits to cardio, but in less time. These workouts involve short bursts of intense exercise alternated with a low intensity recovery period. Usually HIIT session last anywhere from 10-30minutes.

HIIT May Burn More Calories…

Some research has directly compared the effects of cardio, weight training and HIIT. One study compared the calories burned during 30 minutes of HIIT, weight training, running and biking. The researchers found that HIIT burned 25–30% more calories than the other forms of exercise.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that other types of exercise aren’t good for weight loss.

HIIT and Traditional Cardio May Have Similar Effects on Weight Loss

Research examining more than 400 overweight and obese adults found that HIIT and traditional cardio reduced body fat and waist circumference to similar degrees. Some research estimates that you may burn about 300 calories in 30 minutes of either cardio or HIIT if you weigh about 160 pounds (73 kg). One of the benefits of HIIT is that you can spend less time essentially exercising, since rest periods are included between the intense periods of activity.

Perhaps Using Multiple Types of Exercise May Be Best

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 refining your body composition.  

But let’s not forget…both diet and exercise are critical for long-term success

Most people know that some form of exercise and healthy eating are essential for optimal health. All major health organizations recommend changing both your diet and exercise routine to promote weight loss.

Commitment to the best exercise program is not enough, as you still need to pay attention to your eating habits if you want to elevate your progress of a lean, healthy body. A good exercise programme & healthy eating habits (with a reduction in empty calories) is what is needed. Diet AND exercise are important factors in maintaining weight loss & building a stronger body. Researchers found that the combination of dietary changes plus exercise led to 20% greater weight loss than dietary changes alone after a period of 10 weeks to one year. What’s more, the programs that included diet plus exercise were also more effective than diet alone at maintaining weight loss after another year.

The end result….

Both cardio and weights can help you become healthier and more fit.

A cardio workout burns more calories than a weight-training workout.

However, your metabolism may stay elevated for longer after weights than cardio, and weight-lifting is better for building muscle.

So it seems that he ideal exercise agenda for improving body composition and health includes cardio and weights. You will get your best results if you include both. And watching what you put into your body as fuel. As you can’t outrun your fork 😊

Share This Post

Share on facebook
Share on email
Share on whatsapp
Share on pinterest
Share on print

Subscribe To My Newsletter

To Get Your Weekly Wellness Updates

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More To Explore


I struggle with cramping during & after exercise, why?

Cramps are popularly believed to be the result of a salt deficiency, but this is actually very rare. The spasms are actually caused by the inability of the muscle to relax, and this is likely to be due to low magnesium & potassium