While you are in the gym, cardio burns more calories than lifting weights (weight training). For instance, a person weighing 70 kgs doing weight training and cardio for 30 minutes each would burn:
- ~350 calories (or kcal) running at 9.5 km/hr on a treadmill
- ~210 calories (or kcal) doing vigorous weight training
(calories estimated using NAT Nutrition Analysis Tool Kit)
Well, then the answer to what exercise to do to lose weight is: Cardio. Right?
Not exactly, and here’s why –
1. With cardio, you burn calories only while you exercise. Although the calorie burn is almost 66% higher than the calories you expend when you weight train, the benefit is limited to only the time you exercise. This is not the case with weight training, here’s why:
2. With weight training, you get the benefit of burning calories even after your workout. This is the Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption or EPOC effect. In simple words, muscle building takes energy aka calories. When you do weight training your muscles break down and after your workout, they are rebuilt, which requires energy i.e. calories!
3. Increase in metabolism with weight training: Unlike fat, a muscle is an active tissue and consume calories just to exist! As your body changes its composition- increase in your muscle mass, increases your metabolism.
Now as you sit in office from 9 to 5, you are burning more calories than you did previously!
4. The muscles you develop will change your body frame. With cardio, you only become a shrunk version of yourself, think body of a long distance runner. Whereas by lifting weights you can tone and sculpt different parts of your body.
For the guys this is more dramatic as the testosterone in their body gives them volume and strength. For the ladies, you just become a slimmer and more toned version of your previous self.
5. You gain functional strength in your body. That bag of groceries is not too heavy anymore; you can carry your kid in your arms, play with him without pulling your back and also squat, stretch and bounce your way through life. 😀
With weight training you will have the strength to do your daily tasks efficiently and smoothly.
You can improve your stamina also through weight training by engaging in High Intensity Full body Training (HIFT).
Nevertheless, cardio is something that many people enjoy and the calories you burn is nothing to be scoffed at. So, here is the verdict: Cardio is a great way to burn calories but lifting weights is the only way to raise your metabolism permanently. The more muscles you have, the more calories you burn 24/7.
Therefore, to answer the initial question as to which one you should favour to lose weight: If you are one of those who find it difficult to drop pounds then a mix of both is highly recommended.
In cardio, opt for high intensity interval training (HIIT). So, weight training on three days and high intensity interval cardio on two days.
Do you have a preference of one over the other? What is your workout regime and what results did you see?