Weights vs Cardio

If any of you read any fitness blog of any kind for long enough you will come across an article that asks the question "which is better for losing weight? Cardio or weights?"

Just to clear it up, weights means resistance training, lifting weights or your own body weight like push ups. Cardio is short for cardiovascular, anything that makes your heart beat from about 50% - 80% of your maximum heart rate.

How Weight Loss Works

Weight loss can happen a variety of ways. Losing a limb or vital organ will cause sudden weight loss, as will liposuction, but let's focus on the common garden variety calorie burning. As you probably know, you burn calories to exist. Sitting down scratching yourself will burn calories as will running a marathon. Obviously, they burn a different amount. You have to burn calories no matter what you do.

So with that in mind what burns more calories? Weights or Cardio? Well there isn't really a solid answer.

Firstly, don't get mixed up with weight loss and fat loss. Weight loss is the overall cutting of body weight which will mean fat and muscle disappearing.

Fat loss is what many people who follow Instagram fitness models will aspire to. This means eliminating fat and keeping the muscle to generate a toned look. If this is the aim then weights are the way to go, this will ensure that muscle is preserved and as the fat disappears you will look like more like Usain Bolt than Mo Farrah.

Advantages: Weights vs Cardio

It's also worth noting that if you are quite large and are looking to lose weight you might find picking weights up easier than jogging. Thumbs up for weights.

Cardio encompasses a large range of activities. Running, cycling, rowing, and lots more all fall under the cardio umbrella. They increase the heart rate to a level where calorie burn is accelerated which as we know burns a variety of calorific material in your body. Fat, Muscle, stuff you ate (it varies depending on what your body has available and how hard you're going). Because of this you're less likely to look like the Rock.

But there is a resistance training element to these exercises. Cyclists predominantly use leg muscles to push down on pedals, Runners also use leg muscles and engage their core muscles the whole time they run. Rowers use upper body to pull against the water and their legs to steady themselves as they drive back.

Our Conclusion

In reality the answer isn't weights or cardio but how much bias you give one over the other. You'll find that most weight lifting websites are quick to rubbish cardio and running websites are full of people concerned with not bulking up in case they become too slow. Which is strange as both groups inadvertently end up doing both cardio and resistance in some form.

A healthy routine will encompass both weights and cardio. Cyclists improve greatly when they incorporate leg resistance training, track cyclists don't get those legs just from pedalling, and runners who do arm, shoulder and hip strength generate an ability to drive themselves forward better. Likewise, a healthy cardio vascular system is one of the staples of a long healthy life and ignoring it would be to your detriment.

In the end, you should do more of what you like doing and do a bit of the other as well, this will improve your overall performance in what you like. I like to run a distance and on a Sunday and it's not unusual for me to do a ten miler. But I also do weights and core exercise solely to improve my running.

I understand that for bodybuilders (and most others) that giving up four hours a week to put one foot in front of another is pretty unthinkable, but on the flip side standing in front of a mirror doing weights for an hour whilst listening to the Top Gun soundtrack and day dreaming about the film's volleyball scene doesn't do it for a lot of people either.

Of course, all of the above comes secondary to diet. It doesn't matter if you choose to do your work on the road or in front of the mirror in the gym, it all counts for nothing if you consume more calories than you need.

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