There are a lot of workouts to choose from these days, and each promises better results than the other. Cardio has been all the rage up until quite recently when fitness and other professionals began to educate us about the benefits of weight-lifting.
All of this has left us a bit confused as to which workout is best for our weight management goals. The short response to this question is yes. However, they both have their pros and cons, and the real answer is that it depends on how much time you have to work out, how quickly you want to burn fat and what your overall health and fitness goals are.
Focus on cardio for weight loss
Cardio is the way to go if your focus is on:
- Losing weight,
- Improving your heart health,
- Increasing your lung capacity,
- Boosting your immune system, and
- Even losing some muscle if your normal exercise routine has made you a bit too bulky for your liking.
Cardio also burns more calories per session than weight training, which helps to create the calorie deficit that you need to lose weight. For example, if you weigh 73 kg and jog for 30 minutes, you will burn around 250 calories depending on your pace and metabolism, whereas you would only burn between 130 to 200 calories if you lifted weights for the same amount of time. The downside is that too much cardio can break down your muscle.
Building muscle and bone density
On the other hand, weight-training helps you to build more muscle and bone density. Muscle is heavier than fat, which means that the scale will show that you’ve either gained or are maintaining your weight depending on the amount of muscle you gain.
So why is everyone kicking up such a fuss about weight lifting if cardio burns more calories and has so many health benefits? Doesn’t that automatically mean that it burns more fat? No. The real secret to fat loss and to keeping it off lies in the afterburn. Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the rate at which your body burns calories within a 24-hour period when it is resting. Afterburn refers to the number of calories that you burn over a certain time period after working out.
Because it takes more energy to move muscle, the afterburn effects of weight lifting can last anywhere between 15 to 38 hours, whereas they only last an average of 10 hours after a cardio workout.
Combine cardio and weight-lifting
Most personal trainers recommend a combination of both, which depends on your health and weight management goals as well as your lifestyle and personal taste. There are two different approaches, but combining them is easier than you think. For example:
- You can incorporate cardio into your weight-training sessions by jumping rope between sets or by alternating cardio and weightlifting days.
The downside of choosing one over the other is that your body eventually adapts to your workouts after a while and your progress slows down until you change it, whereas a combination will actually maximise your body’s fat burning processes. It forces you to change your workout more frequently, and every time you do, it jumpstarts your body out of its what it is used to and revs your metabolism.
Lastly, no matter which option you choose, your diet is crucial to your success. You still have to eat healthily as well as watch your calorie intake if you’re serious about fat loss and improving your overall health and fitness. The best way to find the right balance between all of these factors is to speak to a qualified personal trainer who will tailor a healthy eating and exercise plan specifically for you.
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