Weight Training Vs. Cardio for Fat Loss


Weight Training Vs. Cardio for Fat Loss

Many people think that if you want to lose fat, you should do more cardio, and that weight training is only if you want to build muscle. This is simply not the case. You can use weight training to lose fat, and in many ways it’s actually better than cardio. Falling into this mindset that you need to do cardio to lose weight is one of the biggest mistakes you could make and could hinder your progress towards your goals.

Weight Training Increases Short-Term Calorie Burn

The first reason weight training is more beneficial compared to cardio in the fat-loss war is due to the calorie burn post workout.

Studies have demonstrated that after a weight-training workout, metabolism can be boosted for up to 38 hours post-workout. This means that rather than burning 50 calories an hour while sitting at your desk, you’re burning 60. 10 calories might not seem like much of a big deal, but you multiply this by 38 hours, you can see what a big difference it can make in your daily calorie output.

When you figure that out on a monthly or quarterly rate, it becomes even clearer how regular participation in weight training will really increase your capacity to burn calories.

With cardio training, you might get an extra 50-80 calories burned after a steady state session, but this will depend upon the exact intensity and duration of the workout. In order to generate a high amount of post-calorie burn from cardio, you would have to be exercising for a substantial amount of time!

Weight Training Increases Long-Term Calorie Burn

The second reason to potentially use weight training over cardio is that your long-term metabolic increases. While it’s a good thing to be burning more calories for 38 hours after the workout, that’s not going to help you two/three weeks from now, unless you are consistent with your workout program and nutrition.

What weight training will help you to do is build up lean muscle, which will then support your body to burn calories.

When you calculate your basal metabolic rate, the more muscle you have on your body, the higher this rate will be and the better the calorie-burning results you will obtain.

Since muscle tissue is fairly stable (as long as there is some stimulus on the muscle and you are consuming enough protein, it won’t be lost), this proves to be an effective long-term strategy for losing body fat.

This is the main reason males can on average eat more than females without gaining weight. They have more lean muscle mass on their body, therefore they are burning more calories day to day.

Weight Training and Body Shape Changes

The third benefit that weight training has over cardio training is that it will allow you to completely reshape your body. Cardio training will generally help you lose weight however, this weight loss is typically a combination of fat and muscle which means you may drop size, but shape will likely not change too much.

When you are performing resistance training, while following a calorie-restricted diet, then you stand a better chance of losing body fat and help to enhance the natural curves of your body.

This will give you a much more complimentary look overall with your transformation than if you just lost weight doing cardio.

Women Who Weight Train

One thing that should be mentioned at this point is that many women will stay away from lifting weights, particularly more than 6-10kg, simply because they believe doing so will cause them to gain excessive amounts of muscle mass. Females do not have high enough testosterone levels naturally to develop the same amount of muscle as males.

What lifting heavy weights will do for men and women is raise the metabolic rate, promote greater fat burning, and help give more definition when the body fat comes off.

Cardio and the calorie burn it provides

One thing that you might be thinking about is the different calorie burns during the actual workout.

If you do a longer cardio session where you burn 400-700 calories then this certainly is beneficial when it comes to fat loss!

You will have to keep doing these long cardio sessions if you are going to have to keep start seeing that weight loss. Time will likely become a big factor with this one, and boredom could start to play a role over time.

To conclude, weight-training session may not burn as many calories per minute during the actual workout (depending on how intense the weight lifting is), the overall calorie-burning gains you receive typically are superior to those of cardio.

Cardio and its Health Benefits

Clearly cardio has several health benefits. Strength training has health benefits as well, but cardio training has a bigger influence on cardiovascular health as the heart and lungs work harder for longer when you do it.

It wouldn’t be sensible to remove cardio from your fat-loss training program but you should be adding plenty of weight training alongside your cardio. Overlooking this form of exercise while playing the fat-loss game is a big mistake that’s going to hurt your progress.


Stop thinking that cardio equates to fat loss and weight training equates to building muscle and weight gain. That’s simply not the way it is. While doing cardio can help your fat-loss goals, in a lot of ways weight training is more effective and will also give you a more toned body shape.

While lifting weights can help you build muscle mass, that muscle mass will in turn help you lose fat mass. If you just want to lose fat and don’t want to get overly muscular, don’t worry, that takes a lot of concentrated effort and won’t happen just by weightlifting occasionally.

If fat loss is your goal, lifting weights will enhance your chance of achieving it so make sure you are adding it into your program!