The great debate…which is better for fat loss, cardio or strength training? Now, I don’t claim to be an expert in this area (yet), but with a lot of research, using my own exercising experiences and with a little help of my nutrition program, I can confidently compare the two and give you some very reliable information that will help you reach your goals.
First off, anyone on a calorie-reduced programme will lose weight-both muscle and fat. On a severe calorie-reduced programme, muscle loss can account for up to 50% of weight loss. However, muscle loss can be minimised by the right choice of exercise. When weight training exercise is added to a weight-loss programme, more muscle is preserved and a greater proportion of weight loss is FAT loss.
Intense resistance exercise should be included in your fat-loss programme for two reasons. Firstly, your resting metabolic rate (RMR) will be elevated for up to 15 hours post-exercise, due to oxidation of body fat. Secondly, weight training acts as the stimulus to muscle retention. The more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism. This is the primary reason males typically can eat more than females without gaining weight-they have more lean muscle mass on their body, thus they are burning more calories around the clock.
And although adding aerobic (cardio) exercise to your fat-loss programme will burn more calories and offset some muscle wastage, don’t rely on aerobic exercise exclusively. You could still lose substantial amounts of muscle tissue with cardiovascular exercise-some studies have estimated as much as 40%. This is because cardio does not act as a sufficient stimulus to ensure muscle retention while you are on a calorie-reduced programme. Muscle loss will subsequently result in a lowering of your metabolic rate.
Another benefit of weight training over cardio training is that it can allow you to completely reshape your body. Cardio training generally will help you lose weight, but like I said it will be a combination of muscle and fat; therefore you’re left with a smaller version of yourself. For some people, they are fine with this result and are content to just lose the weight, but others are looking for a more attractive physique. Resistance training not only helps you to lose weight (specifically body fat), but you end up with a much more toned look that enhances the natural curves of your body.
Now, I know what some women are thinking, if I lift weights am I going to look too ripped and masculine? This is an unfortunate misconception because the reality is that females do not have enough testosterone in their body to develop this degree of musculature. What it will do though, is raise your metabolic rate, promote greater fat burning and help give your body more definition.
It’s time to break free from the thinking that cardio equates to fat loss and weight training equates to muscle building and weight gain. It’s simply not as black and white as it seems and often the biggest difference between fat loss and muscle building is more related to diet than anything.