The Main Event of the fitness questions! The fight everyone wants to see! The argument about what is more effective for burning fat, cardio or resistance training, has been going on since the fitness industry began.
When I started as a trainer many years ago the stance of most trainers was cut and dried. Cardio burns fat, weights build muscle. No questions asked. It was that simple.
Women went to Jazzercise and Hi-Lo Aerobics or the stairmaster..
Men went straight to the weight room.
It was widely believed that if women lifted weights they risked becoming big and bulky.
Men were warned that if they did hours of cardio they would lose strength and size.
If you ask the average gym-goer they would repeat this same philosophy to you.
Cardio burns calories resulting in weight loss and weight training makes you big.
Seems simple enough doesn’t it?
Falling for this common misconception for all these years is the reason many people fail to see results and find their progress in the gym hindered. So let’s examine the facts round by round and see the real winner!
Round #1- Total Calories Burned
If we look at total calories burned during a one hour training session of weight training, depending on the intensity, the average person will burn between 200 calories on the low end and 450 calories on the high end.
A one hour session of cardio, again depending on the activity and intensity, usually burns anywhere from 200 calories on the low end and up to 450-500 calories on the high end.
Now I do know that most of us think we are in that high end of the calorie burning scale but the truth is very few people are. If you look at what most people consider cardio exercise is usually just a very long walk. Go into any gym or health club at 5 pm and you will see every treadmill in use…Every elliptical trainer occupied and the pace…slow.
If you watch most people lifting weights you will notice similar patterns. One set of an exercise, long walk to the water fountain. One more set, send a text message or talk to a friend. You get the idea.
So actually on the average you will usually burn the same amount of calories doing cardio as you would lifting weights.
However, there is a difference in one thing…what happens after the workout.
Cardio does burn calories but only during the activity. Once you stop…the calorie burning stops. Weight training is metabolic. This means that when you break down the muscle tissue during the workout the body has to continue to work to repair the muscles. The result is even after the activity, the body continues to burn calories for up to 24 hours.
This edge puts weights slightly ahead enough to win this round.
Round #2 – Stress Relief
Stress is another major factor that affects your fitness level. Increased stress levels cause the body to release a hormone called cortisol which has been linked to fatigue, increased fat storage in the midsection and increased anxiety.
We all know that there is nothing better for clearing your head after a stressful day than a difficult, fast paced cardio workout. Going for a run or hitting the heavy bag can do wonders for your mental state during stressful times.
Cardio elevates serotonin levels in the brain, a key neurotransmitter involved in improving symptoms of depression and anxiety reduction and chronic fatigue.
Cheaper than a pill without the negative side effects.
Now there is no doubt that lifting weights can make you feel better during stressful times. However studies have not been able to find the same effect on serotonin levels from lifting weights compared to cardio activity. The metabolic nature of weight lifting also increases cortisol levels if your protein intake is not high enough.
Until the studies show us something different, round 2 has to go to cardio!
Round # 3- Injury Prevention
Injuries are a huge enemy of staying in shape. Nothing can derail a consistent fitness plan faster than an injured lower back, injured knee or ankle sprain.
Consistent weight training using multi-joint exercises such as squats, pressing and row movements if done correctly can improve the strength and elasticity of connective tissues and joints. If you add some solid core training you can strengthen the lower back and improve posture.
Cardio training’s repetitive nature puts tons of pressure on the joints, ligaments and connective tissue. When you add the impact of hard surfaces the chances of injury are greatly increased.
This round has to go to weights.
Round #4- Overall health benefits
While most people are motivated to go to the gym so that we can look good in our favorite jeans, wear the cute outfits and not be embarrassed to take of our shirts at the pool we have to consider our overall health.
Cardio has been proven time and time again to prevent heart disease, improve circulation, lower blood pressure, reduce the chance for obesity and prevent the risk of type 2 diabetes. All of these are the major causes of death in the United States. Doing regular cardio exercise 3 to 4 times a week will increase your life expectancy.
Lifting weights 2 to 3 times a week has been proven to reduce fat storage in the abdominal area which reduces the risk for many diseases.
Round 4 has to go to cardio.
Who is the winner?
Well as you see both cardio and weights play important roles in burning fat, reducing stress and improving your overall health. Attempting to find one more beneficial than the other is not possible.
If you want to be a winner the solution is to incorporate both regular cardio activity and weight lifting into your overall fitness plan.
Sounds like too much work and too many hours in the gym?
I know none of us wants to spend countless hours in the gym everyday.
That is why I created all of my popular workouts that are the ultimate combination of resistance training and high intensity cardio training all in less than an hour a day in the gym.
Annihilation:Total Body Training System combines high intensity interval training, bodyweight and resistance exercises, core and ab training and intense running drills to get the most out of every workout.
Lean Body Boot Camp brings the same intensity and results with a reduction in the high
impact exercises for those who experience joint and lower back issues.
These small group training systems are on going at various times 6 days a week.
My newest training system Annihilation:Total Body Revolution 14 Day Workout is for those who need that extra push or jump start to burn tons of fat in a short period of time.
I am always coming up with new and different systems to help everyone get the most out of their decision to live a strong and healthy lifestyle. If you have any questions feel free to send them to me anytime!
Thank you for reading as always!