Which one is better for Fat Loss: Cardio or Weight Lifting?
This question has been a hotly debated topic for a long time, and I’ll bet you yourself may have asked this once or twice throughout your fitness journey.
There’s no better way to answer this question than to look at how your body responds when you do a Cardio workout vs. a Weight Lifting/Strength Training workout.
First, Cardio Exercises like running, cycling, walking, rowing, swimming, etc.
• More Energy and more Energised Muscles – this happens at the cellular level. After a long, strenuous bout of cardio, your body copes by producing more mitochondria in the skeletal muscle cells. The mitochondria is the “powerhouse” of the cell, and more of them simply means more energy produced by the muscle. Your muscles would be able to work for longer periods of time (muscular endurance).
• Increased Heart and Lung efficiency and endurance – your body also adapts by producing more capillaries or blood vessels. Your heart and lungs also improve their capacity. All of this allows faster delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles.
• More Fat burn – our body’s main energy source is glycogen in the muscles and not fat. This is simply because they are readily available and easier to process than the more chemically complex fat. But with more mitochondria, your muscle cells will be more efficient in using fat stores as energy source.
Now let’s look at Strength Training or Weight Lifting.
• Larger Individual Muscle fibers – hold your horses for a second. This does not necessarily mean bigger, bulkier muscles right after you lift weights. Your muscles actually break down after you lift weights, and your body recovers by a process called protein synthesis. This allows the individual muscle fibers to heal and ‘grow.’ Muscles are more metabolically active than fats, so they use up energy even at rest.
• Better Bones and Disease prevention – if cardio is great for the heart and lungs, weight training is excellent for muscles and bones. Strength training improves bone density and may help prevent type II Diabetes.
• Boosted Metabolism – Strength Training also increases mitochondria capacity in your cells to some extent. And because you’ll have more metabolically active muscles and more energy, this will result to greater fat burn when you workout and even at rest.
So which one is better for fat loss?
You may find the answer a bubble-burster if you are a pure-cardio or pure-weight lifting fan, but they are both great for fat loss. If you don’t care about strength or tone, then just go for just pure cardio workouts. But if your goal is to get fit and strong while looking lean, then do both. You might increase your “weight” at first, especially when you start lifting weights and gain some muscle, but you’ll notice you’ll be burning fat more efficiently as your body improves from both cardio and strength training.